Jim Holt writes:
I thought it was simply thrilling. I had never heard anyone say “goddamn” on TV before, or even “queer,” at least in that specialized pejorative sense. I was a “teen for Gene” — that is, a callow supporter of the liberal antiwar candidate Eugene McCarthy — so my political sympathies were naturally with Vidal, who deplored our ruinous imperial meddling in Vietnam, as against Buckley, who was so hawkish that he talked cavalierly of using tactical nuclear weapons against Hanoi. But I was mesmerized by Buckley’s rhetorical deftness, by his eloquent and often deadly ripostes.
I’m no great fan of Buckley but yes, when you grew up watching this stuff, the stupidity of the (below) average “conservative” reader (and, occasionally, editor) can be exasperating.