William F. Buckley, founder of the National Review, died at the age of 82 on Wednesday. Mixed feelings would seem to be the order of the day. His verbal tics and odd manner of speaking made him an often-lampooned character and I certainly disagreed with most of what he had to say. But in an age when the most celebrated and prominent conservative “leaders” are shallow carnival barkers like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, one gets almost wistful for the days when an intellectual like Buckley could serve as the principal conservative spokesman for so long. Those days are long gone, though. Today’s partisan shills can’t hold a candle to him and the quality of political debate in this country has fallen far enough that there is no one like Buckley on either side with any prominence anymore. I think we’re all worse off for that.