William F. Buckley Jr.’s Canny Cover Of James Watt’s Regrettable Remark

520 words - 3 pages

William F. Buckley Jr. was a renowned conservative American political author and commentator. Buckley founded National Review, a conservative political magazine, in 1955. He also hosted nearly 1,500 episodes of Firing Line from 1966 to 1999 and wrote over 50 books. Buckley came to the defense of James G. Watt, the Secretary of the Interior of President Ronald Reagan, after he stated that an advisory body set up by him included a “black, two women, two Jews and a cripple.” Watt was accused of “a panorama of bigotry and hate” by Senator Lowell Welcker and his controversial statement resulted in termination as interior secretary. In Buckley’s “Watt’s tongue works faster than his mind”, he gracefully comes to the defense of Watt and raises several compelling arguments defending ...view middle of the document...

” In 20th century politics, the balanced ticket extended to both Jewish and black political associates as well. Later in the century, homosexuals and the handicapped requested direct representation so that a balanced ticket would include Americans of Italian, Irish, Jewish and black ancestry, a homosexual and a handicapped. Although Watt did the right thing by including a black, two women, two Jews and a handicapped in his advisory board, it was socially unacceptable to mention the fact.
Furthermore, Buckley notes that Watt’s choice of words was ill-chosen, particularly his choice of “crippled” rather than “handicapped”. His use of “women”, “Jews” and “blacks” raised no social objections unlike his use of “cripple”. Buckley admits that Watt should not have said what he said. He is guilty of an unfortunate choice of words; however there is no evidence proving him guilty of “a panorama of bigotry and hate” like Welcker accused him of. Buckley says Watt simply stated the plain truth and suffered immensely for his mishap because he disregarded social cues. Watt should be punished for his irresponsibility with his tongue rather than accusations that have no evidence backing them.
Overall, it is undeniable that Watt made a regrettable statement and irresponsibly chose his words when describing his advisory board. However, Buckley raises several good arguments in Watt’s defense: Watt was simply stating the truth and there is no evidence revealing that Watt’s comment was ill-intended. Buckley’s defense of Watt is successful because it is short, straight to the point, includes facts, and also includes political history which reveals why Watt made the controversial statement in the first place. Next time Watt makes a public statement, he will be sure to consult with Buckley before further damaging his public image.

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