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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 27, 2009 1:00pm-1:30pm EDT

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moratorium, or day of protest on october 15. the moratorium looked to be a big thing on college campuses were keychains and boycotts of classes were planned. some kids in my high school decided to join in. i thought they were wrong. i also thought there was something phony about the exercise, simultaneously bringing an copycat. the moratorium supporters presented themselves as the dissidents, but they were tagging along with a national movement mimicking their elders. i decided to put counter posters, anti-protest protest on the school walls. i imagined myself as a latter-day martin luther, taping rather than hammering out criticisms of orthodoxy for all to see. i generated my posters by typing them out over and over on the
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black typewriter using carbon paper to produce more copies at a time. i had only 12 contentious theses, not luther's 95. after a nights work, i gave my posters to the world on the 15th. . . deer bob off the beginning of my letter, added a conclusion and send it away.
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months passed without a word from national review. i assumed they had not liked the submission and thrown away. this was standard procedure in journalism. after the new year, i got a letter from a c hçó simon, the managing editor, deer mr. brookhiser, please forgive our slowness in dealing with your manuscript. it somehow got buried on my desk. this, i would learn, action was standard procedure. priscilla buckley, bill's older sister and managing editor, and i have read it and weçó want to publish it. anyone who submit something for the approval of the world expects in somee1 corner of his mind that he will be approved but when approval actually çóca, it was startling.
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the world2od public events which included the media that reported on it, was out there, and now someone from out there had signalled back. to contribute to freight expenses. the idea that i might be paid in addition to being published was icing on the cake. about the time the check arrived, i began getting letters from readers. there were 20 in all, which would be a small response in the
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days of e-mail and texting but in 1969 when each of these communications had to be sealed, stamped and dropped in a mailbox, it was impressive, all the more to someone who had never gotten a letter from anyone he did not know. i know why the assistant managing editor, mr. buckley and ms. buckley, published it, the dog walking on its hind legs, 16-year-old speaks. i was also a dog bites man. there were plenty of young people even in the late 60s who were conservative or simply not liberal, but they were not the young people you saw on television, or in most magazines or newspapers. the archetypal young people in major media, whether admire or feared, were idealistic liberals, radicals or copulating druggies, heroes, rebels or freaks. here, said the editors of national review, was a kid, a
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high school freshman, who speaks for the and scene. there was one more reaction to the peace, the most important of all. a blue 3 x 5 card, with national review's name and address in bold, william f. buckley jr. editor, below that, in spindly red ink, a message, something like richard, congratulations, or rick, very nice. in time, i would learn that every contributor to every issue of national review got such a card from william f. buckley jr. which did not diminish its value, rather the reverse. the cards were a courtesy in a profession that often skipped courtesy. over the years, i saved many such cards, a fraction of all the ones that were sent. since they are not dated, i can't tell now which came first.
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no matter, they were a beam of attention from the top. i go on a little bit to give the back story of bill and me taking us up to 1970 and the introduction ends, at 44, bill's age when he accepted my article, he was conscious of the passage of time. in nearly 60s, a younger colleague said on one of his interviews, bill was in fine form, like a jet with a switchblade. the toughest question was save for walking out the door, bills marley knocked aside. when the door closed, he turned to rickenbacher, grinned, and said i can keep this shit up in july and 40. he kept it up much longer. but he senses when he is no
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longer a literally an infant. out of the blue, here came a kid pulling the same stunts he had pulled in college, only he was doing it in high school. bill may have thought even then, maybe i have found another means. the rest of the book, and the next 4 years of my life, have 3 movements which are already there in the opening that i read you. the first of these movements is a portrait of a remarkable account by a young man. one of the reasons for doing this book is we are losing bill a bit. his tv show went off the air in
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1999. becoming media conscious after that, no longer know who he is. my wife and i go out to dinner lot so waiters and waitresses are all kids, they don't know, they would certainly have known in 1990, 1980, 1975, of course they know who bill buckley was even if they never read national review, just because he was out there imitating him. as happens to every figure of the media, part of him has passed. he will in door and he will remain but there needs to be an act of recovery. that impelled me to write this book. among the many things we tried to recover was his affect as a public figure. he was stylish, he was funny.
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those who remember him, conservatives and liberals, universally acknowledge that. the conservatives, because it was so important to us that there be a conservative who was stylish and funny, liberals because it please them, they were entertained by the spectacle, and not threatened so much by the style of his tumor. we also have to remember that bill was very aggressive, especially the farther back you look. if you click on some of those youtube sites, he could be a killer. if he thought you were arguing from an errant authority, or you were threatening the country or its well-being or its peace, he would cut you in new one, and he did it over and over again.
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my favorite instance combining both, i tell the story in the bullpen is also in one of his posthumous book, cancel your own goddamn subscription, was a run in he had with arthur fletcher jr. they were arguing by mail, and one of slicken share's letters, referred to national review or the national inquirer or whatever you call the magazine. bill wouldn't have it. in his reply he said how would you like it if i wrote beer arthur, or whatever you call yourself, if you ever need to slap down a pulitzer prize-winning story, that is the way to do it. this is what it is like and cut it out. just a brilliant little arabesque in one sentence.
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another of the things to recover about bill was his passion for talent. he looks for it everywhere. he would go to the big names, he offered $5,000 a year to be a columnist for national review. unless i get -- unless you get much richer or i get much for which i am afraid will happen sooner, i can't take you up on this offer. but he also grabbed it when he saw unknowns. he hired gary mills out of the jesuit seminary, he had left the seminary, never written anything for anyone. bill was the first to right back, the beginning of his career. he hired leonard as a drop out.
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doing a story on one of castro's early prisoners, john was 19-year-old. he also grabbed me at the age of 14. a second movement in right time, right place, is the time and place. 40 years is a long time. it goes from the vietnam war to the surge in iraq. we missed obama's election. but all of that history, the fall of communism, it is all fair. one of the lessons for conservatives at this moment, we are pretty glum because things are pretty grim. they really are grim. you have to remember it has been worse. the late 70s were awful. they were just awful.
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there was watergate, there was the fall of vietnam, there was an energy crisis, there was gerald ford's good but bumbling intentions, jimmy carter's unionists, cubans were patrolling africa, soviets were occupying afghanistan. was an awful time that ended with ronald reagan. i am not saying every disaster ends with ronald reagan. they don't. sometimes they just keep getting worse and worse. but it is important for conservatives to remember we have been through a very bad patches before. i hope that is another thing this book can remind people of. the third movement of the book is a portrait of the
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relationship, a relationship between an older man and young demand. i was a boy when i started. i would have been called youth, i became a younger man. in a longer ways it was love at first light on both our parts. as often happens with love at first sight, mistakes are made. as i realized, as i was writing this book, bill was looking for an air and i was looking for an idle. neither of those quests can ever really worked, and it will inevitably produce frustration and misunderstanding. in our case, some bumps along the road, a year after i went to
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work for national review, this was 1978, bill took me to lunge and he said he will succeed me when i step down at age 65, in 1990. and you will own the magazine, you will be the second editor, here is the plan, here is the timetable. i was flabbergasted. i was thrilled, but i was also stunned. the plan seems to be going according to plan. 9 years later, 1987, i come back to my desk and there is a letter on my desk addressed to me, confidential, bill was out of town, a key part of his ammo in certain situations. i opened the letter and it said he will not succeed me. i quote it in the book, you have
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no executive ability. i have not documented this, but it is the case, time to make new plans. that was that. at age 32 i went from being very precocious to being retarded in the sense that i now had to get another career, at the age of 32. there were many other bumps and twists and turns along the way. it took time and it took effort on both our parts to reestablish a relationship. robert frost said we love the things we love for what they are, but to do that you need to know what they are, that can take a lot of work to figure out. when you work with someone
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periodically, when you see them regularly, there is a lot you tend not to say, because you are part of that person's life and they're part of yours. a routine is established. i did get to say once to build something like a final judgment of what he meant to me. this was after he sat down as editor, and henry kissinger offered to give him a big dinner party at his apartment, bill picked the guest list, he invited my younger colleagues and friends. this was a young crowd. bill said a few words, there was
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a time for tests. i gave a toast. this is something i actually had to modify, i quoted a lot from a poem by w b yates and my editors if you are quoting so much, you're going to have to pay permission. so i thought all right, i will do a lot of paraphrasing. here is what i said on that night. it is called beautiful, lofty things. people were important to him in his life. supporting himself between the tables, speaking to a drunken audience, nonsensical words. one of them is his lover, how the station, waiting a train,
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that straight back. that straight head. one of them was yates's father. yates's father got involved in the controversy over the play, playboy of the western world. irish nationalists were outraged, they thought was disrespectful to the peasantry who were the soul of the nation. the up or, yates's father thought this was cretinous behavior, he just hated it so he took the nationalists on. yates remembers that. my father on the at the stage, a ranging crowd, this land of saints, a plaster thing, beautiful, mischievous head thrown back. it is not my place to, and on
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your head, but no one i know has been more respectful of saints, more mischievous to plaster. thank you very much. [applause] half the people in this room can dispute every detail. do we have a mike for the questioners? i will recognize you. >> my question is a bit disrespectful but i am going to ask anyway. i read about your book in all street journal review of your book, christopher buckley's book, and one of the things i do
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know from reading the review was that william f. buckley had a heavy dependency on ritalin and used it frequently. this for me raises the issue of whether you want to disclose this. i had a teacher who said we live in an age where we like to see the feet of clay of our idols. what concerns me about that aspect of your book, which is fantastic, which i am sure it is, those types of revelations at this point in some way, i worry, create an undermining of what it is that bill buckley was trying to advance, and god knows he had enough people who did not believe as he did and would take any opportunity to attack him. i am curious what your take on this is. is probably a minor item in the book but i am curious.
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>> please do read the book and read the discussion of that. it was an to run him down. one of the points i was making was his institutions in doing this. the only reason i learn about it, not that i was spying on him in his office or any thing. i was coming down with the flu or had a cold or something like that and bills that would you like some ritalin? i told my wife, who is an anesthesiologist's daughter, she has a merck manual on her desk, and she says what? no, you don't want to do that. there is no hypocrisy issue here. bill was very bold in urging that our drug laws, which i think have many manifold
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perverse aspects, be changed and reform, whether it be against marijuana, laws against medications that be given to the intractably ill, he also campaigned about that for many years, so this is not -- this is not something he would have been ashamed at on a policy level. you know, look, in the whole man, it is a small matter. but it is an aspect of him comment and it was an aspect of i am living my life and i have things to do and how do i do it and one way i'd do it is with the help of all my co-workers. another way i'd do it is with france's bronson. another way i do this is with discipline and another way is writing columns written by jerry
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garvey, there were many ways. this seemed to him to be another way. i guess the point, part of the point is when a man is biting off so much and chewing so much and getting so much right, it is strange, there might be some things that he doesn't, that has to be part of the picture. yes, sir? >> since the name of christopher buckley has been mentioned by the last questioner, i feel that i can ask this question. in visible tag team. do you have any views on what christopher buckley has done? among the choices, this is a multiple choice question, the
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powerful father figure rebelling against that, he is actually sort of unbeliever in utopian socialism more he is just stupid? >> there is a poison tilt. i don't have views on what christopher has done. he wrote about bill's best writing about his life. next question. in the very back. >> i was wondering if you could comment on buckley's relationship to his hall monitor, yale. you are critical of aspects of
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the education? i don't know that he was ever honored by gail, set me straight on that. >> yale was founded in 1701. they had a tricentennial. i didn't go to it, but there was a celebration of famous alumni produced there. bill told us afterwards, i shared the stage with big bird. that tells you that he went to this and was part of this, certainly there were yale institutions, primarily the yale daily news. a day. there is that too. the yale daily news was something he loved and cared about and kept touch with for years. he would also go back to the political union which he had been a member of, a forum for debate. this was useful to him because
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he would fill the debate, that was a forum that he picked and cared about. he taught at least one writing course at yale. he did not burn every bridge, but he did see, and he saw quite correctly in the late 40s and nearly 50s, yale was running con, was conveying an oppression to its alumni saying you are all christian capitalists in a school the stand for that. and they didn't any more. they had changed. they probably changed as recently as the 40s. they were sailing under false colors and it was a very bill-like skin related to dear arthur, saying this is what you
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are doing. may be the final point is you can do that but it doesn't need to cross the stores again. i think he still had a connection to the skull and bones. there were friends he made at yale who were dear friends all his life. it is a complex picture but he would also never have forsworn the truth that he had told about yale in 1951. yes, sir? >> michael meyers. if you were his protegee and he was your mentor, the time that he told you you were not going to succeed him, how many sleepless nights did you have after that and how did you deal with it in terms of not lashing
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out? my real question is i remember bill buckley as a conservative, in terms of movements during his life, he was really reticent, maybe not even a johnny come lately, to the use of federal power in terms of the civil-rights movement, from the conservative's point of view that federal government should not be used against states' rights, did he use federal power to create and force an equal opportunity, equal access. >> in terms of my reaction, i do go into this in great detail. my first reaction was hollow pain. one is an adult and one has to get through the day, the week, the year, that process of that


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