Framing the Dialogue

Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription

“Everybody knows that William Buckley is a master of words; it is only the use to which he puts them that restrains one’s enthusiasm.”

John Kenneth Galbraith

The founder and one-time sole stockholder of the National Review Magazine is well known for his august vocabulary. William F. Buckley, Jr.was perhaps one of the most revered and reviled conservatives of our day. Cancel your own goddam subscription was his response to a disgruntled subscriber as part of the Notes & Asides portion of the magazine. The exact quote was; “Dear Dr. Morris: Cancel your own goddam subscription.” Mr. Buckley is polite even showing ire.

This book is what I would call the greatest hits collection of letters and responses from 1967 through 2004. I started reading this with trepidation thinking it would be rather dry and boring. It was rather dry, but in his humor which I liked and not at all boring. Buckley’s wit and brevity made for a very pleasant experience. There were occasions when my eyes glazed over paragraphs where readers droned about proper punctuation, but that was part of Mr. Buckley’s persona. His readers love to try to catch him in a rare grammatical mistake.

The starting quote was the best quip against Mr. Buckley and he nobly included it in his book with the response, “Dear Ken: No riposte. On this one, you win. A deep bow.” William F. Buckley comes across as an intelligent and perhaps warm individual. It seems like he embraced the public image that media thrust upon him. He seemed exceedingly intelligent, but there are a great many bright conservatives. I am impressed most by his wit and you’ll enjoy it on display in Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription. I’ll leave with one of my favorites to whet your appetite:

“Mr. Buckley:

You are the mouthpiece of that evil rabble that depends on fraud, perjury, dirty tricks, anything at all that suits their purpose.

I would trust a snake before I would trust you or anybody you support.

A. Ruesthe

[no address]

Dear Mr. Ruesthe: What would you do if I supported the snake? Cordially, WFB”

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