"He was our prophet. Without him there would have been no conservative movement, no nomination of Goldwater in 1964, no election of Reagan in 1980, no winning of a Republican Congress in 1994." So wrote James Humes to the sister of the late William F. Buckley Jr. in a personal note of condolence that he shared with listeners on Backbone Radio, March 2. Humes is the author of books on Reagan, Churchill, Lincoln, and Shakespeare, as well as a speechwriter for five presidents.
The Buckley tribute also included personal reminiscences of him by Charles Kesler of the Claremont Institute and by hosts John Andrews and Matt Dunn. Here is the full text of James Humes's handwritten letter:
Bill was the leading star in the glittering galaxy of your family. But in the rest of the Conservative world he was our prophet.
Without him there would have been no Conservative "movement," no nomination of Goldwater in 1964, no election of Reagan in 1980, no winning of a Republican Congress in 1994.
He was the Founding Father - the combination of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton in our political philosophy - not to mention Edmund Burke.
His resplendent vocabulary manifested the brilliance of his mind and his rendering on the harpsichord radiated a baroque elegance to an all too arid and godless society.
Like the trans-oceanic yachtsman he was, he charted like a Columbus, new horizons for Conservatives to sail. In the world of intellect and politics he did, in Shakespeare's words, "bestride our narrow world like a colossus."
James Humes March 1, 2008