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William F. Buckley, the elegant, articulate political conservative, is dead at age 82, according to the New York Times. Buckley "marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American discourse," says the Times. Don Freeman, retired columnist for the Union-Tribune, interviewed Buckley several times, both in New York and San Diego. "He spoke and wrote beautifully, but English was his third language," says Freeman. Buckley was born in Mexico where his father made a fortune in oil. The young man learned Spanish. Then the family moved to Paris where Buckley learned French. Then the family moved to the U.S., and English came to the fore. Freeman remembers that Buckley had a New York apartment at 72nd and Park Ave., as well as his Connecticut home. Freeman interviewed him at the apartment in the morning, and was going to the theater that afternoon. But it was Columbus Day, and cabs weren't available. So Buckley took his son's "motorcycle-like vehicle" and wheeled Freeman, riding in the back, to the theater. Freeman asked Buckley why he used such big words. "Because they are in the dictionary," replied the author/polemicist. After giving a speech in San Diego, Buckley was given a bottle of wine by his hosts, who apparently didn't know Buckley was a wine connoisseur. "He said it was inferior," recalls Freeman. Actually, "he had a lot of personal warmth, a feeling for people that you wouldn't think someone in his economic position would have."

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Comments

MarkScha Feb. 27, 2008 @ 10:33 a.m.

WFB and Joe Alioto debated at USD around 1975; it was the first political event I had been to.

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Don Bauder Feb. 27, 2008 @ 11:29 a.m.

Response to post #1: I would like to hear more about that. My guess is that Buckley chewed him up in the debate. I can't see Alioto holding forth. But maybe I'm wrong. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 27, 2008 @ 1:36 p.m.

Response to column: I remember listening to Buckley with great interest after graduating from college, then I grew out of it.

I have evolved into reading Don Bauder instead, and you are much more informative on what we really need to know so we can make the right decisions to save San Diego.

Thanks for continuing to ride Rocinante into the sunset.

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Don Bauder Feb. 27, 2008 @ 1:57 p.m.

Response to post #3: You are too flattering. To my knowledge, Buckley never had any proposals for reforming San Diego. It was not on his radar screen, although he came to the city with some frequency. He did, of course, run for mayor of New York when he was much younger. He wrote a book about it, "Unmaking of a Mayor." His campaign provided reams of entertainment, and the book was a great read. Come to think about it, just about everything he wrote was a great read, even if you didn't agree with him. Some thought of him as an insufferable snob, but those who followed his career, knew him, or just watched him on TV, knew that he was a class act. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 13, 2013 @ 9:33 a.m.

Some thought of him as an insufferable snob,

I plead the 5th.....

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MarkScha Feb. 27, 2008 @ 2:34 p.m.

Don, you are pretty much spot-on as to Alioto, as best as I can recall. He seemed to rattle easily.

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Don Bauder Feb. 27, 2008 @ 6:37 p.m.

Response to post #5: You can bet that the rattling sound didn't come from inside Buckley's head. He was a bright one. Although he was an arch-conservative, some of his best friends were liberal intellectuals, such as John Kenneth Galbraith. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 28, 2008 @ 2:54 a.m.

Response to post #6:

Those were most interesting times to be alive Don now that you bring up memories of John Kenneth Galbraith along with Bill Buckley. Ironically I have never forgotten good old Senator Everett Dirksen's comment on porkbarrel spending "a million here, a million there, and pretty soon you've talking real money" on the Huntley-Brinkley Show, and the time when they had TV cameras outside his home recording the marching lobbyists going in and out of his house with brownbags, allegedly.

But then they were also the nightmare not fun at all days of Viet Nam produced and directed by two of our previous democrat followed by republican worst case presidents combo Johnson and Nixon, so nothing has really changed with our extension of manifest destiny to “promote and defend democracy throughout the world” to this date. And I still remember Ike warning us about the M-I-G complex (his original draft included Government but it wasn’t PC enough to remain in the final address) and we sure are learning a hard lesson for ignoring that, and now we have former Supreme O’Conner warning us about money and politics corrupting judges through America.

Don, is this the decline part, or have we entered the fall phase yet? One thing for sure, if San Diegans don’t pay attention to Don Bauder and The Reader and the Davies/U-T totalitarian state is allowed to continue it won’t be long before the fall state in San Diego.

Can’t wait for Erie’s “history” book on that one, to add to my Will and Ariel Durant collection, beside my Hans J. Morgenthau textbook on international relations that all seem to keep repeating.

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Don Bauder Feb. 28, 2008 @ 6:59 a.m.

Response to post #7: You mentioned Ev Dirksen. How well I remember the Wizard of Ooze, U.S. senator from Illinois (my home state). When I was a senior in high school, our class had the annual trip to Washington. Dirksen, then a senator (this was 1954) gave us a little talk -- all b.s., of course. I also remember him at a Republican convention (1960, I believe), introducing Herbert Hoover. Intoned Ev, "He has been vilified, and drenched in contumely...." Dirksen used to run an overt scam and get away with it. A lobbyist would come to him wanting a bill passed. Ev would say that a study would have to be done. He would recommend his law firm in Pekin, Illinois. The contract would be let and the bill would be passed. Steve Erie's long-awaited expose on San Diego should come out in 2009. Best, Don Bauder

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Dannyboy Feb. 28, 2008 @ 11:25 a.m.

Mr. Buckley was not easy to follow. Yes he used more words from the dictionary then most in his discourse. He tended to express arrogance and distaste for the common man and specially liberals. He loved to just out talk you. His explanations were long and convoluted. To my view complexity is usually about hiding something not about uncover and discover. I am surprised at the responses to what he was about at the political level.

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Don Bauder Feb. 28, 2008 @ 2:45 p.m.

Response to post #9: There is no question that lawyers and politicians use long Latin words because they are trying to conceal the truth, not shine light on it. Possibly the same could be said for Buckley. But he did it with such elegance! I could forgive him for obfuscating an argument with 50 cent words. Everybody else, I couldn't forgive. Best, Don Bauder

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MarkScha Feb. 13, 2013 @ 9:03 a.m.

"Buckley does not so much speak as exhale, but he exhales polysyllabically..." said Edwin Newman in one of his 1970s language books.

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