Buckley Encore

Monkey Typing Shakespeare

Why am I revisiting this post? There was an online column by Dick Cavett in the Times today, that describes his friendship with WFBuckley. I loved Cavett’s show as a kid, but his column makes him seem a bit of a shallow fawning admirer, much like David Brooks revealed himself to be in his memorial column. But then again, as Cavett makes clear, he wasn’t, as they say, a political person.

Among the many responses online to the column, some favorable, many savaging Buckley, was this absolute gem of a letter. (Emphasis added.) The no-nonsense description of class mentality is like a bolt from the blue! This is how things are. Take it from one who knows!

Consider Brooks’ comment that he wanted to be WFB in the light of this note – You?… a middle class Jew! This letter is a bit of straight talk from the social stratosphere, a realm that likes to stay out of the limelight as it pulls its strings. [For some statistics, visit The Super-Rich, The Plain Rich, The Poorest Rich..etc. a slightly loopy, but very informative website.] Brooks’ column brings to mind that wonderful scene in “Reversal of Fortune,” the movie about Desrshowitz’s defense of Claus von Bulow. When Claus wants to introduce his girlfriend to Dershowitz, she at first doesn’t recognize the name, then responds, “Oh, the Jew!”

Response No. 13 March 8th,2008

Hi Dick Cavett,

Unfortunately after all these years you have exposed yourself and your wife for the common people you are. That is not a bad thing. It is just a shame you spent so much of your life trying to hide the fact that you grew up with nothing, achieved something and eventually expected everything just because of whom you thought you had become rather than who you really are.

Bill Buckley was born into extreme privilege. He never had to work for anything and he knew it. His Mommy made sure of that. If it wasn’t for the privilege of his birth, he would have been just another drunk, drug addict without a high school education much less a college edu living on the street somewhere. Brains do not equate into educational equality. Money, privilege and connections do, not necessarily in that order. This is not rocket science. All people raised in my class know this. People like you and your wife do not know this simple fact. That’s why nothing ever changes.

You were not fortunate to know and think you were friends with Buckley. People in your class are never viewed as real friends in their, Buckley’s, class. (You know this, but you will always be in deep denial.)

Bill Buckley was fortunate to know you and your wife.

You will not understand this, but people in my class and Buckley’s do.


— Posted by Catherine Brunson Young

2 Responses to Buckley Encore

  1. John Sawyer says:

    It would be nice if she was more clear exactly as to what “class” she considers herself in. Her statements can be interpreted as if she were part of Buckley’s class, or as if she’s not, so it’s unclear. Does she see herself somewhere inbetween, able to understand both all “upper” and all “lower” classes?

  2. lichanos says:

    Yes, a little ambiguous, but I read her as being a member, albeit a caustic and critical one, of the upper crust set. I think she understands the fawning side of Cavett’s experience quite well.

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