Bill Buckley Needs A Mirror

James S. Valliant's picture
Submitted by James S. Valliant on Mon, 2006-10-16 16:53

Drunkenness can excuse only so much. William F. Buckley's obsession with Ayn Rand has once again turned ugly -- as this bizarre new swipe shows.

Of course, the Dear Leader bears a much closer resemblance to Bill himself, as their similar weakness for scotch suggests, but self-awareness has never been Bill's strong suit.

Has Buckley ever shown a fraction of the concern for human liberty for which Rand was so famous?

Noodlefood has already noted the mendacity.

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James S. Valliant's picture

Buckley has waged a decades-long jihad against Rand that has taken the form of much more than a single grossly irresponsible review. Articles like M. Stanton Evan's "The Gospel According to Ayn Rand," or even Buckley's own "Ayn Rand: RIP," are simply vile.


Elijah Lineberry's picture

feel I should defend William F. Buckley, as I have been reading his work since the age of 12 and rather admire him.

Firstly, can I say to James Valliant that 'yes' Buckley has shown concern for human liberty. Smiling

WFB and Ayn Rand had a falling out over the review of 'Atlas Shrugged' in 1957, written by Whittaker Chambers, appearing in National Review.

WFB had not read the book himself, and did not read it until the 1980s, but took the view that contributions to National Review should not be censored...(a bit like it would be rather like someone falling out with Lindsay because of something someone else wrote on the website [which Lindsay had personally not read].

There was another reason for the 'falling out' between Ayn Rand and the conservative/libertarian faction in America in the 1950s/60s and it was this...

The leading 'conservatives' such as Buckley, Barry Goldwater, and numerous others...they were all wealthy, patrician, successful chaps who went to private schools and Ivy League universities and rather enjoyed 'Country House' weekends socialising and discussing political events of the day.

Ayn Rand was an immigrant, had not managed to lose her accent after several decades, was rather 'brash' and...quite simply..did not exactly 'fit in' with the conservative, ivy league 'Country House' weekend set, where you are meant to dress properly, talk properly, drink a scotch or two and be 'Clubable'.

I say that, not as a term of abuse or criticism, but merely as a other words, for purely snobby reasons she did not cut the mustard with the Conservatives, despite seeing eye to eye on 90% of matters in the 1950s.

In addition to these snobby reasons, a lot of conservative/libertarian chaps during that period were critical of Atlas Shrugged, and for a good reason...

It portrayed wealthy, elitist, people who inherit fortunes as being stupid, decadent and bored.

This contrasted with the sort of people the Conservatives, such as Buckley, knew...people who inherited great wealth and made the family fortune much larger...and most certainly were not alcoholics, decadent, stupid, lazy ...but in fact 'sharpies' working hard with the rather generous hand they had been dealt.

In a modern day context...where are the Rupert Murdochs, Kerry Packers, Ernesto Berterellis, Grosvenors, Mellons, Holmes a courts and numerous other rich, elitist familes...people who have become several times richer than their parents ever were, due to their own creativity and intelligence.

Due to the lack of these sort of people...(the people the William Buckleys' and Barry Goldwaters' actually knew)...they viewed Atlas Shrugged as being unrealistic, Objectivism as a fringe cult and contributed to a falling out.

There were also problems..(surprise, surprise)...with the arrogance of Nathaniel Branden, who was viewed as a tosspot, when Rand would drag him along to social events and introduce him to William Buckley or Senator Goldwater or George Bush (no, the other one, the Father) or Richard Mellon Scaife or whomever.


Ted Keer's picture

Today's (19 October) N.Y. Sun carries a column by John Stossel, who is regularly hosted on its pages. Likewise, Ayn Rand is often quoted verbatim to fill space between columns, and advertisements for Objectivst events have been listed in its pages in the past.


In Defense of the New York Sun

Ted Keer's picture

Well, unless somebody's actually reading Buckley, no one would be noticing his absurd pronouncements. I'll admit that I do read him, although not always in full, as his dotage progresses. Much more fun than George Will and Gary Wills I must say. A guilty pleasure perhaps, but calorie free. And I can reap the grain and discard the chaff.

As for the New York Sun, where he was linked above, it is a wonderful publication. The paper actually does its own investigative reporting. The editorial policy is quite objective and the editorial outlook is pro-liberty and pro-capitalist. Mark Steyn, a very witty libertarian writer is syndicated there. The paper consistently surpases the New York Times in quality and the New York Post in entertainment value. Circulation outside the NYC area is limited, but on-line subscriptions and subscriptions by postal delivery are available. The Sun was the first paper to break the evidence which, for some bizarre reason, the Bush administration does not want to address that Saddam did indeed have the so-called WMD's and terrorist links that the leftist media keep insisting never existed.

If you reside in the NYC area I suggest that you ask for the paper at your local news stand, it is published weekdays at 50 cents. If you reside outside the NYC area, check it out on a regular basis on-line to get the full news on issues which the print media otherwise fail to address.

Ted Keer, 19 October, 2006, NYC

William F. Fuckley

Chris Cathcart's picture

William F. Fuckley continuing to earn his name, I see.


James S. Valliant's picture


Getting It Wrong

Jeff Perren's picture


Not the whole thing, no. But I read Bidinotto's review, so I got enough of the (disgusting) flavor to want to vomit. (Yet one more reason I avoid Buckley's rancid dishes.)

I agree he found those sources well suited to his purposes. Of course, I'm sure we can both agree that Toohey, er, Buckley hardly needs much help when his purpose is character assasination. If it hadn't been the Brandens books, he'd have been quite happy to just make it up out of thin air, I'm sure.



James S. Valliant's picture


Don't get me wrong, Buckley obviously started to develop his "agenda" against Rand long before the Brandens' books, but their influence on his other attacks on Rand is clear. As I said in response to Sciabarra, the motive for the assault on Rand is, of course, ideological, and pre-dates the Brandens. They just provided what is now the preferred tool for slander and ad hominem.

Have you read GETTING IT RIGHT? In interviews, Buckley has stressed that the negative portraits of "Rand's movement" from which he drew so much were written by close associates of Rand, etc.


Jeff Perren's picture

Though Buckley may have used snippets from PAR, etc to fit his own agenda, I'm sure that agenda was formed long before either of the Brandens were even known to be associated with Ayn Rand.


No Mystery

James S. Valliant's picture

Of course, gentlemen, this is from the author of GETTING IT RIGHT, a book deeply influenced by the Brandens' portraits of Rand as an "authoritarian" cult leader.


jtgagnon's picture

Rambling is all Buckley ever does. He's a rambler-extraordinaire.

More pseudo-intellectual nonsense

Jeff Perren's picture

"It is widely noted that for all that he thinks of himself as a leader with a divine afflatus to bring to his people and the world the fruits of Juche (the North Korean variant of Leninism, with a little Ayn Rand mixed in), he is himself a man of total self-indulgence, devoted to porn, Scotch, and Daffy Duck cartoons."

Always the pretentious pseudo-intellectual, you have to wonder just what the fuck Buckley actually means by that bizarre description. But, since it's Buckley, it's hardly worth the bother to try sorting it out.

Bill is correct

... when he identifies both the pot bellied dog eater and Rand as his enemies.



Lanza Morio's picture

Buckley makes no sense here at all. He's rambling.

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