William F. Buckley

I was thinking, gee whiz, maybe I am one of the reasons Sen. Joe Lieberman is having such a tough time running for re-election in Connecticut. Here's the story:

In October, we threw a great big party in Washington celebrating the 50th anniversary of National Review magazine, which I founded -- well, that's easy: 50 years ago.

At celebratory events, one invites celebrities, not merely fellow cultists. So in the morning, the White House gave us a special seminar, and then lunch with the president for a few of us. That evening at the grand reception pre-dinner, Condi Rice was there, and assorted congressmen and journalists. When I reached the head table I found Senator Lieberman there, two or three seats away from Rush Limbaugh.

I don't actually remember having a personal hand in deciding who sat at the head table, but I was not surprised to see Joe Lieberman. We have a few ties.

Ten years after I served as chairman of the Yale Daily News, he was elected to that position, and we found ourselves sharing an obligation to look after an old employee and his unruly son. This brought on several meetings, amiable, but without any dissimulations: He was a rising young Democratic star, I a risen conservative star. But we had a common role in effecting the fall of a Republican star, incumbent Sen. Lowell Weicker.

Senator Weicker aroused such animus among alert conservative citizens of Connecticut that a few of us took solemn oaths to work against his re-election in 1988 -- when he was opposed by Joe Lieberman.

Members of my family were no doubt influenced by Senator Weicker's reluctance to admit brother James Buckley, elected U.S. senator from New York, to membership in the Republican caucus in the Senate. Weicker made the point that Senator Buckley had been elected not on the GOP ticket, but on the Conservative Party ticket. A committee was formed (BuckPac) arguing that a vote for Lieberman was a vote for ideological decontamination of the Republican Party, Lowell Weicker having, by 1988, emerged as the weepiest liberal willow in public life. Moreover, he had perfected a self-infatuated pomposity that made voting against him a carnal pleasure.

William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

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