Ahh, Firing Line! If I leave a TV studio these days with what Diderot termed l’esprit de l’escalier, I don’t always blame myself. If I wish that I had remembered to make a telling point, or wish that I had phrased something better than I actually did, it’s very often because a “break” was just coming up, or the “segment” had been shortened at the last minute, or because the host was obnoxious, or because the panel had been over-booked in case of cancellations but at the last minute every egomaniac invited had managed to say “yes” and make himself available. But on Buckley’s imperishable show, if you failed to make your best case it was your own damn fault. Once the signature Bach chords had died away, and once he’d opened with that curiously seductive intro (“I should like to begin .  .  . ”), you were given every opportunity to develop and pursue your argument. And if you misspoke or said anything fatuous, it was unlikely to escape comment. In my leftist days, if I knew I was going on the box with Buckley, I would make sure to do some homework (and attempt to emulate him by trying to make sure it didn’t show).