Ed Meese, Bill Buckley and Ed Feulner

An audible gasp could be heard throughout the building when news spread that William F. Buckley Jr. died this morning. Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner (pictured above with Buckley, center, and former Attorney General Ed Meese, left) has issued a statement:

Without Bill Buckley there would be no National Review. And without National Review, there would be no conservative movement, no Heritage Foundation, no President Reagan – or an America that’s recognizable today.

Buckley’s work has long been appreciated here at Heritage. In 2007, Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement author Linda Bridges told a Heritage audience:

Whatever else conservatives disagree about these days, and they disagree about a lot, the one thing they don’t disagree on is the centrality of Bill to the conservative movement.

In 2003 Dr. Lee Edwards wrote of Buckley in his essay The Origins of the Modern American Conservative Movement:

In the first issue of his new magazine, National Review, Buckley sounded the clarion, averring that conservatives lived, as did all other Americans, in “a Liberal world.” National Review would not submit but would stand “athwart history yelling Stop!” confident that “a vigorous and incorruptible journal of conservative opinion” could make a critical difference in the realms of ideas and politics. National Review, then, was not simply a journal of opinion but a political act which, like the publication of Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind, shaped the modern conservative movement.

And in 2000 Feulner wrote in an op-ed celebrating Buckley’s 1,429-episode run of Firing Line

Buckley was first in many areas and inspired a generation – my generation – to follow in his footsteps. … Buckley made his mark because he was himself, something rare in a media world run by focus groups and target demos. His impact continues, however. National Review still sets the standard for opinion journals, liberal or conservative.

Feulner’s statement on Buckley today concludes:

Through his magazine, numerous TV appearances, long-running newspaper column, dozens of books and thousands of lectures, Buckley ‘taught’ modern conservative thought to me and millions of other Americans who now proudly live this philosophy. I will miss my teacher and my friend.

UPDATE — 4:37 p.m.: We’ve posted Feulner’s remarks about Buckley from 1999 when he was presented with the Luce Award.