Dissent & Citizenship: Norman Mailer and William F. Buckley, Jr.

you we’re very fortunate to have professor chemicals here with us today ah he’s a University of illinois-chicago associate professor about the vehicle professor of Catholic studies religious studies and is also president of the Society for us intellectual history which is a really fantastic organization is probably the best blog of any history blog that I know of su sih us I hburg um a native of Los Angeles Kevin Schultz lives in Chicago Teachers 20th century American history with special interest in religion at the racial history and American intellectual and cultural life he’s published really widely and politically quite amazing work I’ve given numerous invited talks his first book is an exceptional study that I had the privilege of getting to read some of its draft forms it’s entitled try faith America have post-war Catholics and Jews held America to its Protestant promise close by after in 2011 an hour paperback it shirts to decline the idea of the US as a Christian nation and the subsequent rise in the notion that the country was promised on a tribe big idea that came to be called judeo-christianity great power and significance in American political and intellectual life and chemicals is what really documents that the first time you know you know a way this impacted the field quite substantially and it also backed out of Egypt or anyone here who’s uh who’s taking any of my classes Schultz is also a beautiful writer his prose was fantastic so if you haven’t bought his book on mailer and Buckley you might want to if you make sure the complicated subjects accessible and interesting which is very rare for any writer of any kind much less or someone who’s doing serious historical or Kyle work I’m trying to reach broad audiences so let me focus on the 1960s and this most recent book of his luckily a mailer the difficult friendship that shape the nineteen sixties came out in last summer summer 2015 it was an Amazon number one new release in US history it’s been really widely reviewed acting list a lot of the places review repeated Boston Globe New York Review of Books Wall Street Journal Los Angeles Times The New Yorker and on all the places that we all aspire and review and very actively favorably at that he’s also the author of a fantastic textbook kiss that so on top of all the other stuff he’s got textbooks we actually met though many years ago when I was finishing my dissertation and he was finishing he had just finished his PhD and so I count him also as a friend as well as a scholar traveler and so it’s a great pleasure to be able to host Amira corvallis hopefully he will impress you as much as he has impressed me and hopefully we all will be able to impress him with our thoughts ruminations eqa as much as I hope uh the spire so without further ado I’ll please help me in welcoming kyra Schultz or what I hope will be a fantastic top thank you all very much for coming out thank you Chris for not calling me the greatest lover since Casanova I was want to do that how did they luckily no people’s the greatest lover since casting them yeah but you know compound or something like that but next time Chris you can call me the various lovers in spasm and you know we find I’d like to thank the Department history philosophy and religion which is doing all sorts of great stuff for the undergraduates here I just want to throw a pitch for that department which is you know my world here at OSU you have a real talented crop of a nationwide recognized scholars in your department in my field which is a little intimidating I’ll give this talk here with you because you here have some of the cream of the crop and I would strongly encourage you to take advantage them I’m not just Chris you certain my friend so I have to say that but also people though I don’t know who might be sitting out in the audience take advantage of it because it’s a real nice thing to have so just want to throw that out there then in the department thank you very much for helping me copier and then especially the citizenship in crisis series of which this is one of the talks I think you know there are only a handful little problems in American society right now and you look at the ongoing presidential race and you just

see like the anger and the frustration of the population and a lot of people want to continue it and they don’t know how and I think dealing with this in ship in crisis is just writing up this out of way and then my talk in being a history guy my talk is about the 1960s and i think i can make a pretty good case for the break that we have in our politics today that you all have inherited has its origins 50 years ago in the 1960s the arguments that guys like Bill Buckley or Norman Mailer mighty characters were having worth some of the same arguments over lazy faire economics over the good of the commonweal over what role is the individual play in this big massive society so I think it’s just a great service of the University you have been very lucky to have that as part of just what’s going on here Oregon State so that’s enough for my thanks if you look normal to me for a second you got kind of a taste of who William Buckley you know this sort of very prestigious right when conservative who sticks his tongue out like a snake all the time has this expansive okay Larry you know there’s sort of conservative par excellence and the normal nail of the sort of like five foot seven pugnacious guy looks like he’s going to punch in the nose when he’s talking you got a sense of who these guys are and that was about the sense that I have of who they were when I started the project that became in this book that just came out not too long ago so I knew a little more about them than you did and if you let me sort of build me some ID like to start with with breeding parts of the letter and this was the very first letter that I saw between these guys and it’s really what kicked off this is this whole thing and I think more than kicking off sort of a book about a bromance between your eyes it also showed me that by telling a story of this this bromance I might be able to answer the most important question of the 1960s so that’s a lot I know so tell me I failed later or not but that’s what my goal was you know you might as well I’m big right so here’s the way dear bill wrote Norman Mailer in 1965 50 years of 51 now I writing you this letter and great Envy I think you are going finally to displace me as the most hated man in America and of course the opposition is bearable only if one is number one to be the second most hated man in the picture will probably prove to be a little like working behind a mule for years and you know when you work behind you that right that’s Norman Mailer luckily almost certainly laughs the line hit great sense of humor certainly laughs with the line as he did dozens of other lines that mailer wrote they’re really funny you’re so mean to each other but they were really funny but this letter that I have just a ton of songs it was like four pages single-spaced long had a ton of substance and this particular letter was sent to Bill Buckley William F Buckley Jr to say his name properly just days after he gave what I think is probably the most toxic speech that he ever gave it was a speech to a collection of New York City cops the Holy Name Society the Catholic order invited a bunch of Catholic cops and because ninety percent of the New York City police forces Catholic this is the largest gathering of police and luckily was invited to prop them up this is right after the summer riots in New York at 64 and 65 and most importantly it was just weeks after the debacle at Selma right well probably many of you i hope i’ve seen the movie Selma and know that the atrocious actions of the police when they beat down the civil rights marchers with billy sticks and with all sorts of guns weapons things like that it’s just totally indefensible happy defend the cops who align themselves with the Ku Klux Klan to be a peaceful civil rights march right but that’s what Buckley tried to do in this speech and his speech was more along the lines of what you expect to happen of course the white cops in Selma are going to beat these civil rights marchers there is anybody surprised the police are here to keep order and when order threatens to be destabilized or the police do the police keeper so the police were acting in the right in doing what they did in Selma right it sounds just as bad it sounded just as bad in 1965 is it sounds now and so the newspapers throughout New York they just do their knives and they slay ugly or siding with the cops of cell how

on earth can then do this and bubbly was totally taken aback and he had discovered that one of the fathers of the Holy Name Society and recorded audio recorded his talk and so he thought that he could get the recording played for the press and then they would realize that they were mischaracterizing his speech so he sends some poor staffers and for assistant to go to meet father whoever at the Holy Name Society in the tape and he hastily calls together this press release so his porsche staffers like 22 year old kid or whoever shows up 23 year old young adult i apologize i’m going to go whenever boat shows up with the tape and he walks into the room it’s a he walks into the room and it’s filled the hundred reporters and cameras and everything like that and he just sort of sheepishly hands over the tape the hit play and here’s Bill Buckley doing his thing and then right at the moment when he’s about to talk about Selma the tape breaks and everybody leans in and the sports athletes initiative on tape still broken where the cameraman comes from the back they start fussing with it and about five minutes later they find something that state fixed here it is and suspiciously enough there’s 30 seconds missing from the tape and it was the 30 seconds or he had talked about Selma so now the newspaper reporters are angrier than they were before and they wrote even worse headlines the next day you know racist Bill Buckley sighs with Selma once again right and in that moment right that’s when Norman Mailer writes this letter to his friend you know I write you this letter in great Envy you’re the most hated man in America but the letter goes on that’s what was so rich about this letter after spending a few pages describing the errors that Buckley made defend selma and in a few pages also trying to talk about how difficult it is to be a police officer having to make split-second decisions on do you receive violently or not I mean is there anything more topical today then dealing with that question right and here’s Norman Mailer dealing with it and then all the other concludes the letter in a great way he says listen I think our public debating days are probably over for a time at least as wrestlers were now both villains and that excites no proper passions I was imagining like two bad guys in the World Wrestling Federation like nobody cares if you have a good guy a bad guy and you’re really excited still this may open something interesting which is that the two of us have a long careful private discussion one night because I think in all modesty there’s much in your thought which is innocent of its own implications and there’s much surplus in my thought which could profitably be sliced away by the powers of your logic and what it’s trying to do is say William F uh police conservatism from devolved into sort of brutal law and order violence right and he’s also offering to learn from Bill Buckley how his left winger ISM can be saved from Pollyanna visions of watching manatee is capable of it was this real rich genuine letter and intents to learn from somebody who was your political enemy in some ways and then he signed the letter incorrigibly yours Norman and that was almost a title for the book incorrigibly orbs no matter there’s like no but I thought it was a great incorrigibly yours all right well broccoli gets this letter and he writes back immediately your bill I want to thank you for your warm and amusing letter and anyway I have a lot more to teach even merely out a reason good luck Elise tilden yet and then he says and I love this part is a postscript he says can I quote part of the letter that refers to the shameful detest nations of the press how to press it wrong Jim can I use you my left wing friend too but to fight back against the press and Mahler core strength back mimis is no you can’t use me because then I’m going to be aligned with the cops at Selma and I’m not going to become a planner just because of defending you and so when Buckley does write about this incident and he writes about everything which is a real boon to historians he leaves out mailers part and that sa gets collected in a book about nine months later and i love this fine in the archive he sends a copy of the book to Norman Mailer that has this sa tot selman in which trailer is not quoted and in the index of the book where I think he knew norman mailer was going to look first right under the name mailer luckily took a pen and wrote a

smiley face and it is high I mean there’s so many we do luckily the ensigns his letter cordially yours I screw you that’s right okay now now I beg your forgiveness for telling the sort of lone star after that but for me it’s what started the whole the whole project the big questions that I was going after it was about five or six years ago I was sitting in bed when you get a little older sometimes you have sleepless nights you might discover I was having one of these and I was reading a magazine and Norman Mailer had just died and he just sold his papers to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas for 2.5 million dollars which paying a lot of child support with that so he ate kids so he sold it with 2.5 million dollars and this magazine published some of the letters and one of the letters was the one that I just just ready and I SAT straight up in bed when I read this here was Norman Mailer who most you probably don’t know who was but I had this sort inkling who he was he was sort of the involuntary day of the post-world war two American left he was a novelist and writer his real best forms writing essays political essays and the best character and his storage was always himself um you could speak about the ego the guy but he he well he was on the left and he wrote novels that had lots of bad words in them intentionally he’s trying to push American societies was before this happened all the time its first most famous book the naked in the Dead which some people still consider to be the best World War 2 book ever written a novel from American perspective it uses like hundreds of times the word Fe ug because you couldn’t use the real word and he was trying to depict how American soldiers really talked so he used that word a lot in the late 60s there was a band called the thugs because they love Norman Mailer’s writing style so here what and there were sex scenes like graphic sex scenes which I don’t need to describe if you get plenty of that on your day-to-day basis he advocated socialism in some of his books I mean here’s a guy on the Left pushing all sorts of boundaries he was an iconoclast he was a libertine booze all the time drugs all the time he was a husband sixth women the lover to countless more one of the great benefits of having going around the country giving this talk is being approached I like 85 year old women who talk about the time Norman Mailer’s to do so in 1959 both cool and very weird at the same time he wants stabbed his life with a four-inch penknife during a drunken fight it mr Hart by millimeters and she still didn’t divorce him for a year later and he pressed charges he was five foot seven inches tall just pugnacious in this barrel chest that sort of entered the room before he did holy crap here’s Norman Mailer somebody was going to use bad words talk about graphic sex scenes and really push things in our face well how could somebody who was that sort of extreme on the Left pushing boundaries be friends with somebody like William F Buckley Jr who was sort of a mirror image on the right the oliphant every bleh the American right in the 1950s and 60s he was a traditionalist who loved to sail he had the sailors tap three more all the time he was the founder of this magazine called National Review which is still in circulation and before like Fox News and right-wing media that we have today came around there only a handful of right-wing outlets and national review was the kingdom of them all like he starts in 1955 and it was Buckley’s journal he was the founding editor it taught wrong Greg and I would be a conservative for instance and Ron Reagan said that many times Buckley was also the host of firing line which you got a little glimpse up before we started and you know he had he crafted the talking points of the right for 30 years from 1950 through the 1970s and into the 1980s now how could these two guys be friends that’s what really popped me brought me up at night when I saw that and yet there was this letter right that shielded compassion French joking Karen humor and knowing this and all the stuff that makes that makes friends not only were these friends and this was the beauty of it all especially for US history nerds not were they friends but they were debating all the major topics in American life in letters and on TV

they were debating everything that came through the United States so I go to the archives and I find dozens and dozens of letters and most of these letters are when their friendship was most fertile or in these key decades the early 1960s the late 1960’s and 1970’s and they were debating not only you know who was right it was wrong but like they were debating they questions like what kind of life is worth living like America is rich in fat after World War two how can we use that wealth to allow our citizens to live a more fulfilling life I that’s what they were debating right sometimes it got esoteric and they got sidetracked and sometimes they got right down to the nub of it and it was beautiful of these letters were really really good and it was at that moment when I read these letters that I realized I had a potential way to answer what is I think the most troubling question of the 1960s people are always asking us his stories to think big might as well and the big question of the 1960’s has to be how the decisions of the richest most powerful nation that the world has ever seen by the end of the 1960’s find themselves at each other’s throats so violently and viscerally divided how does that happen why does that happen and what are the results until what the answer we’re living with the results today and that’s what I set out to answer in this book but before I found out that my hunch that I might have a way to answer this question might be right I’m doubling the archives and learned all these amazing things about their friendship and it was so these guys were like idiots they were funny they were smart they were everywhere anyone you can possibly imagine in the 1960s they knew and were friendly with any protest they were there writing about participating in and they were so funny as how they went about discussing this the reviewer for The Times of London when he reviewed this book a couple months ago he said Kevin Schultz evident had a lot of fun writing this book and so did I reading it I was like yeah I won I did it I did what I set out to do because it sure was fun to write so I’m glad this person at least had fun reading it I mean these stories they’re so good and they’re going to parties at drinking your slang Sinatra there’s Mia Farrow there’s Truman Capote neither’s jump Gideon all these characters Lord is sign up all these characters were part of their eyes it was just part of the circles that they were swimming in and what are they debating civil rights movement Vietnam women’s rights movement student protests of the 60s Cold War I mean everything that was big and transformative in the late 1960s that was their subject matter and it was all right there in these letters it was great the first met the guys first these two men first met in nineteen sixty-two it was showbiz that brought them together mailer was already famous for the naked and the dead bugs in it a few G’s in it and for his outspoken sort of left-wing politics that first emerged really in a really great book of 1959 I love the title advertisements for myself what it was it’s a collection of his essays that he was trying to get rid of to me to work on his next big book he realized that nobody wanted to see a collection of his old stuff so he wrote italicized entries and conclusions to each piece and in those italicized advertisements to a colon he basically described why the youth of the 1950s were so angry you’ve heard of rebel without a cause right here’s Norman Mailer telling you why the rebel is angry and they actually do have a cause holden caulfield might have had an itch and here’s norman mailer telling me what they’re trying to scratch right so it catapulted him to be this sort of iconic youthful figure on the radical left bodily was famous two already he had this early famous book in 1951 called God and man at Yale which basically sets the tone of modern conservatism to this very day nanny state economics needs to get away from the individual who needs to go strive for often his his or her own sort of benefits and situational secular ethics is not right you need to honor our Christian heritage right so if these two things sound familiar on the conservative party today here it is a

nineteen fifty one bill wagle spelling it out for the rest of America he also usefully came up with the phrase the liberal establishment which is still in currency today he hated the middle he hated the American middle and he sort of divisive Lee called it the American the liberal establishment so that’s not good thank you very much for that and then the parallels between these two guys not only famous they became kind of like odd this shockingly weird they were born within a few years of each other within a few miles of each other they were mostly shielded from the worst in the early 1920s is when they were born they’re mostly shielded from the worst of the Great Depression they both fought in World War two but joined sort of when the battles were over and they fought on the periphery of action both had early Fame both even within weeks of each other literally been three weeks of each other they start founding journals Buckley as i mentioned with national review starts in fall of nineteen fifty-five and then when Baylor starts the village voice in New York which is I guess was when I mentioned it to people in New York they say it’s not that important anymore but once upon a time it was a prominent sort of ironic voice of the radical left in New York City and that was motivated and they start these magazines within three weeks of each other like I said these sort of parallels yeah a little bit creepy well their first meeting it was a producer who brought them together this guy named John golden whose name was actually Robert golden but he didn’t think anybody named Robert ever got really big in this life so he changed his name to John and the reporter told her things like what are you talking about he proposed that that a debate between Robert Frost with frost and robert graves with robert kennedy moderating to see if Roberts really good get dick butt golden is nobody wanted to bring a person iconic young person on the right Bill Buckley and an iconic young person on the left Norman Mailer together to say okay we’ve got these young people these rebels without a cause these Holden Caulfield’s who’s going to lead the path forward the left or the right let’s have Norman Mailer and Bill Buckley debate the future and so he brought them together in Chicago my fair city now to debate the future but golden was no dummy this by changing his name he was no dummy time this debate that happened two days before this heavyweight boxing match between sunless floyd patterson and this is battle my people cared about boxing it was a big deal i guess ever since i seen nobody’s really cared about boxing but this was back in the day when oxidant mattered all right where the owner named Muhammad Ali was beginning to make a name for himself is right before that moment and so he knew roldan knew that there would be all these reporters and cover the fight and so two days earlier why not come down and listen to Bill Buckley and Norman Mailer the bay together and the reporters came 3,500 people filled the grand medina theater in Chicago there were posters all over town a picture of one in the book it was billed like I don’t like Buckley v Naylor was billed the same way the sports worse actually took bets luckily was favored on six two six two three two one I think was no joy after one with the odds that broccoli would win and the debate didn’t disappoint it was really fun to read actually they were like wanted to beat each other up from the very beginning so Bill Buckley gets up and he starts and he says I don’t think I can keep Norman wheelers interest very long especially as I described the right wing because us conservatives don’t have enough sexual neuroses to entertain nor mahler but I’ll try and be interesting enough to get him to raise his eyes from the world’s genital glance I was the first line wait right like this is going to be amazing and it was they rent then they argued the Cold War the civil rights movement the role of religion and American public life they debated all sorts of things and then they had this general these folk singers who are invited to do this happen intermission entertainment i can’t imagine like peacefully poopsie guitars and these guys has coming out battling each other after the intermission the new wine folk singers after the intermission they were asking each other questions and buckling was this incredibly skilled debater he was the best ever to come out of the Ivy League’s he was the Ivy League champion at Yale where he went and he they sent him to England and he just destroyed Cambridge and Oxford he was just a world-class literally world-class debater and so he was trying to corner more than a learn all these physicians about the cold war do you think these people who are behind the Iron Curtain deserve to have these awful lives ba ba

ba and and he’s using these old quotations to the plumber mainland sitting so frustrated may there eventually just throws his hands in the air and he says you can if you want me to lay down and you can run over me with the railroad of your logic that’s fine but if you want to sit here and debate what I wanted to be let’s get to it and what I want to debate and I love this line is the nature of man right why are we here what is our purpose and how can we live fulfilling lives and if this was a cartoon there would be a huge light bulb that goes off over William F Buckley said because he just stopped talking and to the shock of everyone he seeds the rest of his time to Norman Mailer now will godly love to talk he could fill the air with anything for hours and hours and hours every sin they’re saying he’s he’s eating his time to normal Ian Baylor protested what what do you mean but nonetheless he sees the rest of time Mahler does this motlop job and then all the sports reporters had to exchange a lot of money because at the end of the date norman mailer and one by a bone of six to three two one and maybe wasn’t sure what happened until a couple weeks later and he gets a phone call and it’s from Bill Buckley and Brock said we have some business to attend to why don’t you come up to my house of a man etiquette and we can discuss this business they could 11 with lawyers or the phone or anything like that but he invited him up to his house so mailer said sure so Layla goes is in a motorcycle with a white t-shirt you know he’s a rebel right he shows up and they go in the discuss business playboy magazine and offer to buy the rights to the debate and so now this leads to a my more embarrassing research moments when I’m sitting there looking at old microfilm in the library of Playboy magazines under like grainy breasts up on the stage likes quickly scrolling through Instagram so Playgirl magazine actually publishes these debates in 63 but they go to the transcript really quickly and then Buckley turns to male and he says how much time you have I you know I drove an hour up there are plenty of time let’s go sailing neighbors like what the hell let’s go sailing and so sure enough they drive down to the dock in Stamford Connecticut they get on this 34-foot sloop and they do Buckley’s famous sail across the connecticut sound for three so three hour cruise right three or two or whatever it is and I wish they had a tape recorder on the boat but they didn’t so I felt like I want to make up what they talked about what I do know is when they got off the devote the boat they were they were fast buddies girlfriends I know they got hammered I know that much did that made it into the documentary evidence but I don’t know what they talked about what I do know is that in the weeks months and years after their sailing trip there are dozens of letters firing back and forth luckily mainly becomes friends of Buckley’s wife they come up with nicknames for each other he called her slugger look if she was such a tough lady and she called him chuky ba lam which she learned from her swedish army to use her Scottish she Danny which means like sweet little sheep or something like that which is a weird name for Norman Mailer but I have these letters as they took dear CBL and it took me weeks of trying to figure out what the hell that meant but there are multiple letters to see me out is chuck e ba lam go figure okay they became friends so I spent some time to figure out okay why are they friends so I happened these two political enemies be friends and I came up with a bunch of ideas one they’re both white Ivy League educated men at a time when it was white ideally educated men who felt comfortable talking on the out of the nation like they just have that instant connection right there and more recently or as interesting Lee Mahler was sort of secular Jew and Buckley was a practicing Catholic but neither the point is were sort of mainstream establishment process so even though they were white I really get to kidding them they were sort of on the outside of that sort of position of power so they had that in common second they both have a deep love of the United States like a really deep love of the United States may I call it a searing love of country and they thought when the country lived up to its better angels there was no better country in the world and they both took it as their

mission to get the country to live up to their better angels and thirdly and this might be the most important part is that they both hated the mainstream middle in America one from the left looking at all those sort of white picket fences and leave it to beaver just hating that society you know as a secular Jew with sort of middle-class aspirational parents he just thought life was much more rewarding than what that mainstream leads to be for life had to offer whereas mailer thought the nanny state was too I mean Buckley caught the nanny state was too strong and he hated the sort of kind of corporate capitalism that existed in the 1950s so from the left and the right they both aided the middle and then the fourth reason that they might have liked each other is that they both sort of wanted to be celebrities and they realized that they could beat the yin to the other person’s yeah and they can do debates like this where they can talk about casanova tell jokes and it would propel both of them into the spotlight they never admitted that but it’s hard to sort of see that as anything but a big part of their friendship once they met you know they were like you know I freaking hate the movie Forrest Gump it’s like a moral and historical abomination but they were sort of like for supper they show up at every important event of the 1960s here they are debating James Baldwin in 1964-65 about the civil rights movement with Baldwin thinking Baylor’s wrong just like all the left who are overly sexualizing black people and thereby diminishing the possibilities of 16 a million Americans he also hates the right conservative Buckley there’s a great debate between broccoli and Baldwin that you can watch on YouTube now well I mean after the talk it’s a this great debate about these two powerful intellects debating the civil rights movement in 1965 and broccoli trying his hardest to defend that conservative position that black people are not civilized enough his words not mine they were democracy they need to get better educated and that also they hadn’t pulled themselves up by the bootstraps the same way that the Irish of the Italians of the poles had you know completely ignoring 300 years of structural institutionalized racism and it’s hard to deny that those arguments have left some facets of modern American ism today so here they are debating James Baldwin here they are debating the Vietnam War here they are the 1964 convention talking about Barry Goldwater who’s introducing modern American conservatism to the republican party right they’re both there they both have their own troubles with Barry Goldwater and there’s this great letter from bodily to mahler or he says I shudder to think about what you’re going to write about that August convention right I mean they both there there they were just sort of everywhere both of men decided to run for mayor of New York City the different years so they have to cover the other one which is great in 1965 here’s Liam F Buckley running for mayor of New York City the great line that Norman Mailer writes about his conservative Bill Buckley friend is no one I suspect is more majestically unsuited for becoming mayor since it is possible old bill has never been in the subway in his life Buckley’s personality is the highest camper ever going to find in a morality no other actor on earth can project simultaneous hints that is in the act of playing cod or of the Yacht Club little inside joke right joseph goebbels robert mitchum who had just played like this rapist Andy hero maverick saveur Knowlton narula this is conservative Catholic and the nice prep school kid next door as well as the snows of yesteryear if you didn’t talk about politics if he was just the most camp gun ever to walk into Gunsmoke I give up my Saturday nights to watch bill ugly but let’s talk about politics time to time and this program for New York City is to drop an atom bomb beau space on the atom bomb of the Chinese a man like that cannot be kept from getting an enormous minority vote and he was writing of course Miller said Lockleys votes will not come from people who even know what the word camp means no historical swill come from the kinds of girls who want to work at film telephone their whole lives he means the angry sort of light organ classes and Buckley of course not only spectacularly loses the election but he steals enough

votes from the law or Democrat a beam so that his archenemy John Lindsay wins the morality of New York City 1965 luckily was passed but Richard Nixon and lots of other Republican strategists watch this election very closely and the sort of Southern Strategy that Nixon develops and the silent majority of this sort of angry white working class who vote for Buckley that those become the voters that Nixon starts to court in 1968 and you can argue that some facets of the Republican Party of trying been trying to court ever since turnout for years later here’s Norman Mailer running for New York City I mean this stuff he couldn’t be written for me any better it was perfect his main promise was to have the city of New York secede from the state of New York if you walk around New York City today you’ll still see buttons that say 51 on them the 51st state this harkens back to the mailer attempted the mayor campaign one of these slogans was throw the bums in there were all sorts of like they were at racetracks like they were all the great places where you would want a politician to be he jus loses spectacularly and he manages to steal enough votes from the only progressive for guy named Herman podido so that the mainstream liberal John Lindsay its reelected in natomas 69 so they both from their respective positions still not votes from their own parties that john lindsay has elected both times they almost got in a fistfight together in 1966 over the weave in a war i really wish they would have gotten in a fistfight it would for my book but it didn’t happen because mailer was too drunk there was a Truman Capote’s famous black and white ball in 1966 mailer is drunk and angry he saw McGeorge Bundy sort of former national secretary advisor I mean a security advisor an advocate of Vietnam War and he wants to go pick a fight with McGeorge Bundy his friend the poet and writer Lillian Hellman steps in and says what are you doing Gorman and she’s talking down in front of everybody Baylor’s let’s go downstairs and fight Baylor goes to the bar after lillian hellman sort of made me feel anything his line was the younger brother to her sister and he has about 7 or 12 more drinks and he wants to get in a fight and he sees William ugly over in the corner and he walks over to insist put up your dukes and mail it looks at it was like what I’m talking about ins put up your dukes we’re gonna fight about Vietnam Buckley looks at his ease out drunk he is and he just puts his arm around and they go walk off this is a beautiful moment the way I it would be better for sales of my book at the thought but then um and of course they’re also at those political conventions from 1968 the one where Richard Nixon gets nominated and he eventually goes on to the comp resident 68 a lot of us have impressions of the 60s is sort of the hippies the radical left it’s really good to remember that in 1968 Richard Milhous Nixon was elected president the powder grounds of the left and the right fighting one another and of course they were both in chicago in 1968 which many of you may not know about but it was probably one of the more violent political conventions in definitely 20th century American history if not all in American history it’s where Mayor Daley of Chicago promise to keep law and order in the streets and by which he meant he was going to have the police force beat the hell out of all the NGO not vietnam war protesters who were advocating a piece plank outside and so the great image that you can see today on television split screens one screen is inside the convention all world of delegates are voting and the other screen are these light blue a loaded police just beating a crap out of a bunch of anti-vietnam war protesters one of the speaker’s inside the hall referred to it as the Gestapo tactics going on the streets of Chicago it was a really divisive campaign and of course with Buckley and Mahler are there mailer is torn he looks at those hippies and says those people are not responsible left but Mayor Daley is not a responsible right I have to choose between the irresponsible left and the irresponsible right and ironically enough Bill Buckley feels the same way and he loses his Center in one of the more most famous television episodes in political American political history ABC television had brought Bill Buckley to

the bait wharfedale during the conventions and so again the split screens the cops are beating the crap out of the protesters outside and here you’ve got a lefty and righty and gore Vidal says something like look at those crypto Nazi technique going on outside but Lisa don’t you think that’s a little strong and Videl says well the only crypto Nazi I can think of sitting in this room is you bubbly says god damn you queer I’ll punch you in the face if you keep calling me a quickness on live TV if we keep calling him crypto not saying you’ll stay plastered and the guy poor host on ABC television’s ties like oh let’s not call each other names and God they started calling each other you got I mean this there’s a documentary that was the best at enemies it was called it was a very popular last year that was pretty it was an ok documentary but it took this moment and told the history of the 60s through this moment and then happens is really interesting by the 1970s these guys start to become less famous in a way there’s no famous but they’re no longer so critical to the times my favorite example comes from 1971 a toy company wanted to do cards of all the famous political actors of the era and so there’s Richard Nixon wearing this red robe holding a staff and nothing else and he’s the king of spades and his wife Pat Nixon is the queen of spades and in this deck there are two jokers it’s Bill Buckley and Norman Mailer the drawings became the cover of the book these were the drawings that they sent over and in 1976 in another example there’s television show Good Morning America they invite buckley and baylor to come to the debate 76 presidential election and Buckley start sinking back 14 years earlier we had been the dominant force for 3,500 people in two hours in Chicago now we’re going to be a good morning america how much time do we have and the producers from Good Morning America say six minutes and he says nah man I oh I won’t do it what do you mean you can’t say anything in six minutes so they had a love it at him 11 minutes and nobody recorded anything that either then said during those 11 minutes on good morning america and in fact the most memorable thing that happens is after they have breakfast after good morning america they go down to the street corner to hail a cab for mailer and they’re looking at the street corner and there’s this station wagon that’s sort of out of control and it looks like it’s coming right for them and right at the moment when it’s about to hit it veers off and the window goes down and it’s Daniel Patrick Moynihan who had just been elected to the Senate from New York on that very would be elected that very day and he rolled his window and he says damn i could have got you both with one swipe that’s the most memorable moment from that debate so piecing all this together and to get back to the big question before before i let you ask some questions how does this relate to that big question how do the richest i mean how do the people in the richest society human history has ever known it go to each other’s throats within the matter of a short decade and to give it away the answer is is freedom and freedom i think is the key word to understand what happens in the 1960s when the times were good the economy was mostly pretty good both of the left and the right as symbolized by ugly and naylor demand more freedom mailers freedom was out of the left of freedom of speech you keep the fog defending right freedom of social my expectations the jewish aspirational longings to have the weight that you fence and stuff he didn’t want and you thought I was totally unwilling he wanted to have a more fulfilling America out there he wanted to be sort of freed from the pretension of social expectation which I know we all feel today especially when you’re young adult trying to figure out what you want do the rest of your life right and he wanted what those expectations were to be different than what he had felt as a young man in the 40s and in the 50s but Buckley’s cause was also freedom but of a different kind he wanted freedom from the state freedom for my taxes freedom from sir the liberal assumptions that guided American life he wanted freedom from the government telling us what the good life

was you know he had this very opulent background a house with 114 rooms six pianos in it private tutors he really wanted to conserve that kind of life that he thought was being threatened and over the course of the 1960’s what they narrated what they wrote about what it dissipated in was a debate about freedom how much freedom could Americans have what would it look like and much freedom and this was the key question could you have without it affecting the common good how much freedom could you claim for yourself could a person claim for him or herself without feeling disconnected from the rest of society and by the time they began to gauge the costs of that question it started to look out at the revolutions that had spawned the hippies who only wanted to do the catchphrase in the 60s do your own thing right well if you do your own thing you’re not contributing to the commonweal at all or if you push too far against is in a libertarian ethos well you’re there’s no money left over to pay for public schools or roads or hospitals or anything like that and that’s how i came to the answer of my question which is the sort of mostly very pieces of my book for the store it’s not just this straight romance all of that serving the fun part of the story but it’s also a way to understand the 1960s it explains why so much change happens so quickly nobody was defending the middle nobody was defending the commonweal the left was radicalizing over personal freedoms and the right was radicalizing over economic freedoms and with nobody defending the center cracks began to appear in how people understood what it meant to be a citizen in the United States freedom in America is a really powerful word maybe the most powerful political clarion call we have nobody wants to deny anybody their freedoms not in America and so it was very hard to push back against that and we’ve seen that ramification today you know I think of Elizabeth Warren and even Barack Obama a little bit talking about you didn’t build that campaign somebody paid for those roads or the state schools for your employees to get educated things like that I don’t know how much traction that had but that was an attempt to create a language that was against sort of this lion ization of individual freedoms and so what happens is with the lion ization of freedoms the set of assumptions by which we live today come into existence so instead of like a corporate capitalist environment where the richest 1% are paying really high amounts of taxes where the general sense is india lotus line what’s good for General Motors is good for the country and vice versa in the late 1960s and early 1970s that breaks apart and now we want lazy their economics with low amount of taxes and what’s good for General Motors might be to move its factories in Mexico and might not be so good for the United States that’s the ethos in which we live or another way to think about it or from the left is we’re searching for traditions you know to make America great again is one clarion call of great event for whom what’s the diverse multicultural tradition that we can go on on to today that will have traction and it’s sort of a instead of being certain rules about words we use ways that we address our superiors and we didn’t like to use that word or how short your hair should be or what clothes you should wear you know if you look at the 1950s television shows men were obeying rules that’s how they were to appear and now let’s carry the day do your own thing right and in a way that none of us would want to curtail but in the way that has important social ramifications in some I think Buckley and Baylor start these revolutions in the 1960s and by the late 60s early 70s they watch these revolutions carry on by a younger generation and go off into extremes that neither one of them is terribly comfortable with and that’s why they become certified figures who are jokers on playing cards at the end of the day and we’re living with the ramifications both the left and the right demand in great numbers of freedom at the cost or lack of concern maybe for the greater common good through it all fortunately for my book they say friends

in the early 1970s Playboy magazine asked Buckley who he felt inferior to and he sit there any waffles around this is Oh lots of people and eventually he said Norman Mailer after all he’s a genius and I’m not of course he’s really more alive than I have I couldn’t resist the urge mahler return the favor in 1975 a charity group in New York City actually was presenting this Norman Mailer society which is a real thing and after I gave a part of this talk and read this section in the book this woman comes up for me who looks a lot like Norman Mailer and it turns out to be Norman Mailer’s daughter he said oh the charitable auction was for my prep school in New York City so at a charitable auction he auctioned off an evening with William F Buckley and mailer is the keynote it’s all read from you this section that he wrote he went full Buckley with his crazy stupid excessive vocabulary here to auction off an hour with that intellectual in chilling it’s brewing giggling right in the product of conservatism iram bent if not always ideological irrigate i’m happy to say that the successful bidder will receive a full hour of conversation and attention from Sharon Connecticut’s own bucking William F Buckley we must breathe deep avoid the gash in early on and prepare to bid up our wallets for the right to be received by that score adorable exponent of hollow for asus that natural practitioner of missus often e and miscellanea that said Ulis seeks hour of the CIA now rendered semi you slit I fear by the links of spiro agnew but nonetheless phenomenally well worth bidding up if you have a taste for tongue Italian with America’s own semi paternal columnist that Baba Yaga from Yale mr. William F Buckley and his gang of drilling boobs they made seven thousand dollars after the option Mahler sends Buckley a clean copy of the speech which I found in the archives dear bill yours to frame or flip away and Buckley responded immediately and he says dear Norman thanks a million for the text of the option which I shall attempt to decipher as soon as I find myself next to a substantial dictionary I have not yet met the highest bidder but I shall attempt to sound as you would have me sound let’s meet soon as ever bill thank you very much you