• John Kador

Two William F. Buckley Stories

William F. Buckley, the great conservative publisher of The National Review, had attitude and self-confidence in spades.

Here are two stories about Buckley, one from the beginning of his career; the other toward the end.

In the mid-1960s, William F. Buckley was just starting his career as a lecturer.  He was invited to speak at the University of Texas. The Daily Texan university newspaper was rather liberal at the time and criticized the University for paying Buckley a speaker’s fee that was apparently larger than any fee received by previous speaker. A furious front-page editorial questioned whether the young speaker was worth it.

Buckley spoke at the basketball auditorium. The bleachers and floor were packed with students and excitement was in the air.  How would Buckley react to the criticism about his fee?

Buckley had a copy of The Daily Texan in his hand as he walked out to the podium. He held the paper up for all to see, and in his stentorian voice read the most accusatory part of the article aloud. Then he turned to the audience and said, “I never said I was worth it. I only said I wouldn’t do it for less.” The audience erupted in rollicking applause that lasted more than a minute.

The second story concerns a letter to the editor sent to The National Review by a subscriber who took umbrage at one of Buckley’s editorials.  After explaining why he thought the editorial in question was the stupidest thing he ever read, the  subscriber wrote, “And cancel my subscription!”

Buckley published the letter in its entirety.  In his response, he wrote only this: “Cancel your own goddamn subscription!”

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