Sunday, March 02, 2008


2 Mar 2008 15:31 Africa/Lagos

[b]NEWSWEEK: COVER: Mr. Right, R.I.P. [/b]


DAVID BROOKS ON BUCKLEY: 'He changed the personality of conservatism.'

MICHAEL GERSON: 'The loss to conservatism and to America is real ... Buckley Jr. leaves an unfilled spot where wit and joy once stood.'

NEW YORK, March 2 /PRNewswire/ --

In the current issue of Newsweek, Editor-at-Large Evan Thomas looks at how William F. Buckley Jr. largely inspired and held together the conservative movement that is collapsing today. "He changed the personality of conservatism," New York Times columnist David Brooks tells Newsweek. "It had been sort of negative, and he made it smart and sophisticated and pushed out all these oddballs and created a movement." More recently, says Brooks, conservatism has "lost something." In the conservatism spawned by talk radio and TV, the haters and know-nothings are back, ranting about immigrants and liberals, Thomas writes in the March 10 Newsweek cover, "Mr. Right, R.I.P. (on newsstands Monday, March 3).

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"It was a lot more philosophical under him," Brooks says. "At those nightly salons, Buckley liked to talk and argue about ideas and literature and the nature of man; politics were rarely mentioned. The new conservatives are not as intellectually creative as those dealing with communism and socialism." Brooks had been an editorial assistant at Buckley's National Review.

Also in the cover package, Newsweek Contributor Michael Gerson writes an essay about what Buckley's loss means to conservatism. With Buckley's passing- as with the passing of Reagan-conservatism has one less grand, unifying figure. One less leader regarded with respect and affection by every element of a sprawling coalition, from libertarians to religious conservatives. Buckley united the movement because he embodied it, and he embodied it because he largely created it. Conservatism will survive Buckley's passing, as an edifice survives the death of its architect. But few remain who understand how the building was built."

And Katrina vanden Heuvel writes in an essay, "I come to Newsweek not to bury Buckley, but, believe it or not, to offer respect for the man and the editor. More important than any of the particular ideas in which Buckley believed was his belief in the power of ideas themselves."

She writes that despite his "uncompromising conservative beliefs, Buckley reveled in transpartisan friendships, most notably with the late John Kenneth Galbraith. (One of Galbraith's favorite phrases-"Modesty is a vastly overrated virtue"-may well have been coined to describe his skiing partner Buckley.) While he could deploy a sometimes vicious wit-which could descend into cruelty-Buckley disdained the kind of partisan shoutfests that too often pass for political debate on our TVs today.

(Read cover story at

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CONTACT: LaVenia LaVelle of Newsweek, +1-212-445-4859

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