William F. Buckley Jr.

I can manage to go back instantly to sleep after breakfast, and did so today fighting a 2-a.m. arrival-time from San Francisco the night before. But was roused after a half-hour. I had a newspaper column to write before television. My theme: Was it provocative for Kenneth Starr to mention in his report that one of the days in which Clinton and Monica had at it was Easter Sunday? OK, I thought, for Starr to track his daily movements. The President rose … met with staff … went to St. Ann’s for 11 a.m. service … returned to White House … met with Monica Lewinsky for 24 uninterrupted minutes … summoned National Security Council … That’s OK, but why insert that it happened on Easter Sunday, unless the intention was clearly catechetical? I recalled that Teddy Kennedy had egged nephew William along to one more bar on Good Friday before the beach rape/seduction. I side with the anti-Starr people on that one.

Quick lunch before Firing Line with Mark Green, recently overwhelmed, along with Geraldine Ferraro, by Chuck Schumer in a contest for the Senate Democratic nomination to fight Sen. Alfonse D’Amato. Green was for several years a regular on Firing Line, with Michael Kinsley, and the interplay between us is informal and friendly. He lost because he was outspent 10-1. He said that many who heard his concession speech told him he sounded so buoyant everyone thought he had won. “I will never give another concession speech,” he said. Next time out? Mayor of New York.

On to the studios, where Green and John Fund of the Wall Street Journal spoke of the November elections, inconclusively because nobody knows what will happen in the elections. Show No. 2 was with John Podhoretz of the New York Post, bright, lively, and John Leo of U.S. News & World Report, grave but with a spark. I asked whether any sexual impropriety could lead to impeachment, or is it absolutely necessary to add such as perjury and obstruction of justice? They writhed a little over this one but declined to opine that any consensual sex would trigger impeachment, though Podhoretz thought it would have happened back during the Cold War if it had transpired that JFK was doing it with the girlfriend of the Mafia boss. James Schlesinger next, sometime director of the CIA, to ponder whether the Agency is discredited (largely) but whether its function must be performed by somebody (yes). He says U.S. Intelligence suffers from unsuccessful recruitment of bright types, owing in part because no sense of mission is in the air, the Soviet Union having gone away.

Schlesinger, dubbed “still the most arrogant man in Washington” by Mary McGrory quite recently, was genial and much concerned about the weight of U.S. obligations (see the current issue of National Interest).

I had signed up to go to the annual Wriston Lecture of the Manhattan Institute, featuring Tom Sowell, but I backed off. “Fatigue, dear Bill, you have never experienced it, but one day you will.” (Whittaker Chambers, letter to me, June 1961, a few weeks before he died.) I did check in with Firing Line producer Warren Steibel after the shows and said to him that one day—someday—Firing Line has to close down. It’s 32 years old now. Maybe with the advent of the millennium?