William F. Buckley: conservatism’s become “a little bit slothful”

Joseph Rago in the Wall Street Journal:

111205wfbThere is something out of time about lunching with William F. Buckley Jr. It goes beyond the inimitable WFB style: the mannered civility, the O.E.D. vocabulary, the jaunty patrician demeanor. It is also something more than mere age. “Well, I am one day older than I was yesterday,” he says, with rather good cheer. Yet if there’s anachronism to Mr. Buckley, it is also a sense of being present at a moment of creation.

For all his versatility as editor, essayist, critic, controversialist and bon vivant, Mr. Buckley is widely credited as the driving force behind the intellectual coalition that drew conservatism from the fringes of American life to its center, with such side-effects as the utter collapse of the Soviet empire. “There’s nothing I hoped for that wasn’t reasonably achieved,” declares Mr. Buckley, who will turn 80 later this month. “Now, I’m going to have a cocktail,” he announces, flashing his oblique grin. “Will you join me?”

More here.