POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES
Buckley was an articulate and rather disingenuous man, one who truly was a bit off his rocker.
Anyone who watched Buckley on television, flicking his tongue almost like a rattlesnake and rapidly blinking his eyes, couldn't doubt he was a bit unbalanced and simply enjoyed conflict and argument for their own sake.
He was a vital part of what critic Robert Hughes has called "America's culture of complaint."
The culture of complaint is one in which the combat is enjoyed for its own sake with little meaningful discussion happening and little desire to achieve understanding or change.
It is a verbal form of Rome’s gladiator battles, and just about as intellectually meaningful.
Buckley’s television show also frequently put up debaters who were supposed to represent two sides of an issue but, to the observant watcher, clearly did not. That is to say, Buckley often loaded the dice.
Further note on the infamous Buckley-Gore Vidal exchange many years ago on American television, tapes of which the American network likely will never release or has destroyed out of fear of lawsuits.
Vidal did call Buckley a "crypto-nazi," a personal attack which at least had the merit of being about politics (as well as being true).
Buckley called Vidal "queer" and threatened him on national television, a personal remark having nothing to do with politics and revealing very clearly the kind of prejudice that motivated Buckley.
He had no class, except an assumed, fake quasi-British accent which he managed to permanently acquire from a short stay in Britain.