Memo To: William F. Buckley, Jr.
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Your Perry Como Column
What a wonderful column about Perry Como!! When I saw that you were writing about the singer’s death last week, I thought it unusual, until I read it all the way through. Of all the eulogies written about Perry Como, I think this would mean the most to his family and his old fans, because of the surprising touch that came at its conclusion. I almost stopped halfway through, having read the NYT obituary, but you pulled me along and I was glad you did. My wife Patricia. (who almost never recommends that I read an opinion column, figuring I already have too many of my own) also read your memorial and mentioned it in glowing terms, and I readily agreed as I had read it earlier in the day.
Come to think of it, Bill, your column is one of the very few I look forward to reading any more. And I remember the time when I didn’t. Back when Patricia and I were producing the annual MediaGuide, I remember we complained in the 1988 edition that “he’d [William F. Buckley, Jr.] lost his cutting edge, that he’d diluted his energies writing those mystery books we never read, his columns knocked out on portable word processors in taxicabs between Park Avenue and LaGuardia.” Now that you have turned the heavy lifting at National Review over to the unexpected (to me) exemplary talents of editor Rich Lowry, retired your the Firing Line show, and slowed the whodunnit output, I find your reservoir of accumulated wisdom is overflowing. And as we said in 1988, you’ve always had such enormous talent, that all it took on your part was a morsel of effort for your columns to shine. The Como column would have warranted **** in the MediaGuide. So would your April 3 column, “The Sopranos’ Underside,” as you found the popular show “most interesting in its confirmation of the psychological depravity of the viewing audience.” You really should think of an anthology of your timeless writings on topics like these, social and cultural, as opposed to spot commentaries on the political world that have a different kind of historical value. I’d be glad to help you pick them out!