I didn't start reading National Review until about four years ago, I never saw "Firing Line," and I haven't read any of William F. Buckley's books...I came to conservatism through my dad, my grandpa, and a World History professor who was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA (probably not her goal in teaching the freshman class, HA!). So I've really enjoyed seeing the tributes, memories, video clips, etc, that have been posted on the National Review website and all over the intertubes the past week. I've added some books to my queue as well. I've learned a lot about U.S. history that I sure as hell wasn't taught in school...
The thing that really stands out, and from what I read this seems to be fitting, is that every obit, column, article--even from hostile mainstream sources like the AP and the NY Times--uses big, uncommon words. This is the first time I've had to look up a word used by the AP since I was 10 years old (épater, which means "to shock or startle")...after all, their style sheet says to keep it at a sixth-grade level or lower. I've had to look up even more from conservative writers. I've learned more words in the past week than I have since I moved to Milwaukee.
Talking about WFB, Rush Limbaugh said something like (I'm working from memory here) "you know you're not as smart as these people, but you hope by being around them and listening to them you'll become a better person." Totally sums up how I feel about the blogosphere, the pundits, and the writers...I felt pretty dumb after meeting Jonah Goldberg and some UW students at Madison last year, but I also felt energized by hearing the discussion. I hope eventually I'll have something to contribute, but lately it's taking a backseat to my 80 million other interests.
Plus, some of the words are good in Scrabble, and I remember them better if I know the definitions. :) (EPATER* is bad because it's French; EPIGONI is an alternate spelling of EPIGONE, both good.)