In Memoriam: Some of William F. Buckley’s Greatest Quotes

“Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.”

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

“Back in the thirties we were told we must collectivize the nation because the people were so poor. Now we are told we must collectivize the nation because the people are so rich.”

“I think it is the centrality of the assumption that the Catholic Church is the Church that was founded by Christ. But they all have polisticity, for sure. A lot of people do think that. And if it’s so, then you’d want to say, well, give me a good reason for not joining it? Now, I know there are an awful lot of reasons, awful lot of subtle, theological questions here, but that is the point that is most–that, plus also its general record and the constancy of its performance are morally–I find that pretty impressive. Two thousand years is a long time.”

“You cultivate the essential virtues: high purpose, intelligence, decency, humility, fear of the Lord, and the passion for freedom.”

“It had all the earmarks of a CIA operation; the bomb killed everybody in the room except the intended target!”

“Liberals, it has been said, are generous with other peoples’ money, except when it comes to questions of national survival when they prefer to be generous with other people’s freedom and security.”

“The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.”

“I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth.”

“I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

“The academic community has in it the biggest concentration of alarmists, cranks and extremists this side of the giggle house.”

During a sailboat race from Miami to The Bahamas in 1973, Buckley was declared lost at sea. Asked if he was ever frightened at the possibility of perishing on the high seas, he replied; “No, I just stayed busy emptying champagne bottles, stuffing them with dirty notes I’d written to Fidel Castro, and casting them into the ocean”.

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