I was talking to a friend of mine recently about Bill Buckley's place in modern conservatism and when I heard of his death today I felt sadness. His was an intellectual conservatism that he indefatigably defended throughout his life and, though it can be taken for granted now, there would not be a robust conservative movement without him.
He moved in circles that included Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, Friedrich Hayek, and other luminaries but he stood out. Among the most important figures in the modern history of conservatism I place him in the triune with Limbaugh and Reagan - men that consistently presented a political ideology of liberty, property rights, small and decentralized government, individualism, and all with the best of humor.
My earliest memories of Buckley, when I was developing my political views, is him on Firing Line interviewing a member of the cognoscenti and letting ideas be explored in a way that wasn't found anywhere else at the time. His debates were especially important because it allowed two opposing sides time to tease out the nuances of their positions without commercials and avoiding soundbite portions. It was a full meal for my developing mind. He will be missed.