William F. Buckley Jr. died this morning at the age of 82. While liberalism was his favorite target, liberals could not find a more gracious intellectual opponent than WFB. He disarmed even the most radical activists. He seems so anachronistic now, in this age of blogs and non-stop cable news. Amidst the shouting matches, spin, and ad hominem attacks that dominate our political debate today, it's difficult to remember that a man like Buckley and forums such as Firing Line ever existed.
It's an axiom that political writers hope to influence politics, and I think it's safe to say that no American writer of the last half century had a more significant impact on our politics than he. Whether one believes that influence was for better or worse will, of course, be determined by political sympathy. But mere partisanship ought not prevent one from relishing Buckley's intellect, style and the voluminous service he performed on behalf of the English language.