When Buckley and Kristol, not to mention Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, were alive, they were hated and vilified by the same sorts of people who now claim to miss the old gang. (…)
…those who pine for the good old days fail to grasp that the good old days were, in the ways that matter, often quite bad. The heyday of the “institution builders” was a low-water mark for conservatism’s political success (that’s why they built institutions!). Conservatism hardly lacks for top-flight intellectuals these days, but the intellectuals aren’t the avant-garde anymore. Thanks to their success at building institutions and spreading ideas, the battle has been joined. And now is not the time to wax nostalgic for the planning sessions.
UPDATE: Instapundit writes…
Buckley was charming because he had to be. He got a lot of attention because it was a time when liberalism was at its zenith, and so was its control of the media. Liberals were secure enough to let guys like Buckley on, but only guys like Buckley, whose I’m-a-member-of-the-club aristocratic credentials made him seem safe. And only so long as he was sufficiently nonthreatening.
Times are different now, and the Buckley approach, exquisitely adapted to the 1950s and 1960s, wouldn’t work today. Miss it if you want, but it’s like missing Elvis. And a Buckley impersonator wouldn’t be Buckley any more than an Elvis impersonator is Elvis . . . .