First, I have to comment on this response by Buckley's hand-picked replacement to head up his magazine, The National Review - Rich "Right, but never Correct" Lowry:
Buckley was, Lowry said, "an Ivy League-educated, silver-tongued, witty and erudite guy who could take on all comers — and he had just an incalculable influence."
This is perhaps what Lowry intended to say, but due to his inability to pronounce multisyllabic words correctly (and I'm not joking), he said "eriudite" and "incalcable" influence.
The part of the story that blew my mind was from his biographer, but that part of the story is not part of the audio at npr.com (not sure why). The essential gist of the biographer's comments (and I wish I could remember his name) were that Buckley had a genius for friendship, and never talked about politics unless he was getting paid to do so. He stated quite plainly that Buckley didn't care about politics and thought it was boring.
He didn't care. He didn't care. He founded the Young Americans for Freedom, he started a magazine trying to make conservatism respectable, said that people with AIDS should get tattooed so we can identify them, and fought against every step of the civil rights movement (a position he later regretted, although I take that with a grain of salt.) And he didn't care. Banality of evil, my friends.
The good news, though, is that according to his son Christopher:
He drove out the kooks of the movement. He separated it from the anti-Semites, the isolationists, the John Birchers. He conducted, if you will, a kind of purging of the movement.
Thank goodness there are no more kooks, anti-Semites, isolationists or John Birchers (scroll down the the Notable Members section: Ronald Reagan was a member of the Beverly Hills branch!) amongst the conservative movement anymore! Thanks, Mr. Buckley!