William F. Buckley

John Derbyshire, the author and columnist (and my confederate at National Review Online), lets everything hang out, in this season of mutual confidences exchanged. He struggles for a category in which his devilments would naturally fall, but does not succeed -- he just says that he is a "dilettante." He lists a few dozen of his idiosyncrasies. They include: "Never passed one year without consuming a tobacco product of some kind." "Never seen a complete episode of 'The Simpsons,' or a complete between-ad-breaks segment of 'Larry King Live,' or more than 15 seconds of 'American Idol.'" "Never set foot in Africa, Australasia, Oceania, Central or South America." "Never responded to any of William F. Buckley Jr.'s spoken opinions with: 'I'm afraid you're totally out to lunch on this one, Bill.'"

He wisely illuminates his enterprise by recalling Dr. Johnson's line, "Depend upon it that if a man talks of his misfortunes, there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him." As always, Johnson has the last word.

I end by acknowledging that the season is open to entirely unexplained, let alone systematically examined, teasers. To display my own: How about a national drive to buy a chair for Wolf Blitzer when he appears on CNN?

Now, since we all know that CNN could come up with a chair for Wolf using its own resources, what we are really complaining about is something else. Look for the larger meaning, since there has to be a larger meaning. Somebody said to the producer, or else the producer said to somebody, "There is too affluent a feel to CNN. We must inject it with something that suggests the relevance of speed, the deliquescence of mere events, the electricity we bring to the ... whole ... global scene!"

Pause. One after another, the company are beginning to nod their heads. "We'll have Wolf standing when he makes his commentary! That will confirm our psychological ... qui-viveness--"

"Qui what?" Marjorie removed her glasses, looking up.

"Ya want that in Latin, Marjorie? What you need is a cigarette."

But all of them had now made notes, and Wolf is chairless.

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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