A right time for Buckley

It's only reasonable that, with America's conservatives riding high, a man who was conspicuously conservative before it became fashionable should have a place in the sun. William F. Buckley Jr. did not have to wait for that often promised conservative tide which raises all boats. Boatsman that he literally is, he has always been somewhere near the crow's nest looking over the horizon -- to the right, of course.

Now his magazine, National Review, has celebrated its 25th anniversary. His public- TV show, "Firing Line," is celebrating its 15th anniversay. His candidate, Reagan, is in the White House. He finds time to write thrillers and play the clavichord. He insists to an interviewer that the little characteristics that some might call affectations cannot be called affectations because they are completely natural with him.

We buy that. Buckley is someone who has made conservatism fun as well as controversial, who has defended 10-dollar words in an age of deflated language, who has managed to keep liberals as friends even while applying his stiletto smi le to their notions. We hope he will always rather be right

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