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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Milford resident recalls Buckley

By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief

When Jack Fowler of Milford first ran for public office in 1997, he received a $500 campaign contribution from his big boss, William F. Buckley Jr.
“I’m holding a check and I can’t believe that Bill Buckley gave me a check and that I’m running for public office as an alderman,” Fowler, who is publisher of the National Review, recalled Wednesday, the day Buckley died.
Fowler in 1997 was part of a splinter group that ran against the Milford Republican Town Committee’s endorsed slate of candidates. Fowler was elected to the board, where he served for five years including a stint as majority leader.
Fowler, shown above with the late U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde, said it’s with great sadness and respect that he looks back on the life of Buckley, a Yale University graduate, and the founder of the National Review, the most widely circulated conservative magazine.
Fowler said Buckley had the “intellect, charm, and energy to single-handledly spearhead the modern day conservative movement.
“There was no conservative movement until Bill Buckley came in,” Fowler said.
He said Buckley’s support of Ronald Reagan helped him capture the presidency, and the conservative movement ignited by Buckley led to the “fall of communism.”
“The National Review was the only voice in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s that spoke for the billions of people who were oppressed,” Fowler said. “The fall of the Berlin wall could be traced back to Bill Buckley.”
Buckley, 82, was found dead in his Stamford home; the cause of death is unknown though he suffered from emphysema. Buckley founded the National Review magazine in 1955. Buckley was an editor, columnist, and the star of television talk show “Firing Line,” and once unsuccessfully ran for mayor of New York City.
Fowler said when he learned of Buckley’s passing he was “very sad,” but he knew Buckley had been very ill recently as he had battled emphysema.
“I knew and feared this day was going to come when Bill died,” Fowler said. “I hoped it didn’t come but sadly today is the day.”
On Monday, Fowler was one of eight people invited to dine at Buckley’s New York apartment, but Buckley was too ill to show.
“It was odd having dinner in his apartment without him being there,” Fowler said. “It was a sad omen.”
He said about 30 of the magazine’s New York employees were informed of the news Wednesday and there was a long list of sad faces, and calls of support came pouring in from across the country. U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-CT, spoke about Buckley on the floor of the U.S. Senate Wednesday for 13 minutes.
Fowler said Buckley always took the time to meet and talk with him. Fowler said that when he was a young associate publisher for the National Review, he came up with a new idea for a magazine.
“I thought it was a genius idea,” Fowler recalled, though the magazine never took off. “Bill took me to lunch. He was so kind and supportive. To be a young conservative Republican and to think Bill Buckley made time for you I was stunned by it.”
Fowler also recalls fondly that Buckley signed a copy of the National Review from the same date he was born: June 18, 1960.
“He wrote me the nicest inscription,” Fowler said. “There was little Bill would say no to on a personal level.”
Fowler said Buckley also was known in the state for his intense dislike of then U.S. Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., R-Conn. Buckley led an opposition group in an effort to get Weicker kicked out of office, and is credited with helping signal to conservatives it was OK to vote for Lieberman, who narrowly defeated Weicker.
“American has lost one of its finest writers and thinkers,” President Bush said in a statement. “He brought conservative thought into the political mainstream, and helped lay the intellectual foundation for American’s victory in the Cold War and for the conservative movement that continues to this day.”
Buckley retired as head editor from the National Review in 1990, but remained very active in the operations. In 1999 he ended “Firing Line after a 23-year run that included guests such as Richard Nixon.
“There is something about the Buckley DNA that should be captured and shared with everyone,” Fowler said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great picture of Jack (looking very confused), but that is not Buckley. It looks more like ex-Illinois Republican Congressman Henry Hide.

March 17, 2008 at 3:40 PM 
Anonymous The Scarlet Pimpernel said...

Hey Brown. Sounds like you are the keep of all knowledge. Perhaps you should run for Emperor of Connecticut or perhaps the world.

March 25, 2008 at 8:12 AM 

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