William F. Buckley, Jr. in Foreign Eyes

Friday, February 29th, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr. died on Wednesday morning (EST), discovered as deceased by his writing desk in his Stamford, CT home by his cook. There’s no doubt that this marked the passing of a notable man, and there immediately followed the appropriate deluge of eulogies and appreciations from both the American Left and Right.

But what about beyond the borders? What, if anything, did Buckley mean to foreigners? You’d have to think that the sophistication of his speech, especially his vocabulary, made his writings and especially his Firing Line television program rather hard for the non-native-English speaker to digest. And God help any such person who appeared on Firing Line, at least any who had to face Buckley before the TV cameras without accompanying guests present to help carry any argument and take off some of the rhetorical heat. Being there one-and-one with Buckley would be like being in a duel, with your pea-shooter against the other guy’s submachine-gun. (more…)

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