I hate to sound like a geezer but after having listened to a bunch of people born in the 70s and 80s lecture me about what an asshole William F. Buckley was, I want to say one thing.
There is a qualitative difference between Bill Buckley and the conservatives of today. I know he had shitty political opinions and the reason I do is because he told me so. Buckley openly embraced racist, McCarthyesque views that he not only acknowledged but defended. Which made it possible to have meaningful, substantive debate between the left and the right.
That isn’t possible with today’s conservative leading lights, the Straussians who philosophically believe it’s their obligation to determine what you should think and then tell you whatever they need to in order to get you to believe it. Do they really think the surge is working? Fuck if I know, but it doesn’t matter — they think you should. If it keeps the fundies in line, big ups for intelligent design.
You can’t argue with them about what they really believe because they won’t acknowledge it. It’s all coded in a bunch of focus-grouped language about "school vouchers" and "no child left behind" and they never admit that what they’re really trying to achieve are orchestrated corporate raids on the public sphere. You’re stuck trying to pin down a moving target whose specialty is hypocrisy and bad faith as a matter of principle. It becomes impossible to have a dialog that doesn’t simply devolve into utter gibberish.
Buckley’s honesty, even in the defense of an ideology you might not embrace, was a whole lot easier to deal with than the intellectual hairballs being coughed up by the right today.