The William F. Buckley Prize Is an Award I’m Unable to Reject


RUSH: My friends, I do not accept, as a general rule, offers of awards. I’ve always had a problem accepting awards. I don’t really know all the reasons why. They just seem in many cases — well, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been offered an award, but that I have to show up to get it, which means it’s not really an award. It’s a sales pitch. And then I see all the awards that are handed out.

Do you know how many awards are given to video documentaries that nobody’s ever seen? I mean, I would venture that 80% of the award winners at PBS have never had their products actually seen. They’re rated by some inside group, and the awards are given out for public relations reasons or what have you. So I instinctively reject them, politely, but I instinctively reject them.

But I was told that I had been elected to receive an award recently that I was unable to reject. And it was from the National Review Institute. It is the William F. Buckley Jr. Prize for Leadership and Political Thought. This was an award created shortly — well, not shortly – but sometime after he had passed away. And of course Buckley was one of my inspirations. He was a fundamental individual in helping me to be able to explain what I believed instinctively, helping me to explain it to others.

And it was one of the greatest — you know, I’d spent my life reading columns and books by William F. Buckley and never thought I would ever meet the guy. I mean, it was such a remote possibility, it wasn’t even an objective. I remember even his magazine, National Review, I’d never seen a copy of it, but people talked about it. I remember I once got the courage — I’m in my twenties doing this, to show you how naive — I got the encourage to call the office, National Review in New York, to ask them if I could subscribe.

I thought you had to have a certain level of qualifications to be able to read the thing. And, “Of course you may,” like easy as pie. So I subscribed, began reading it, and it just inspired me even more. And then after I got to New York in 1988, a year and a half, two years later I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Buckley and we actually became very good friends. And it’s just one of those things in life you never expect to happen to you that did in my case.

I’ve had a very close relationship with all the people on the editorial side at National Review, even before I met any of them, even before I met Mr. Buckley. So they called and they said, “We’re having our annual dinner in October, and in fact it’s where you live, it’s in Palm Beach at The Breakers, and we would like to give you this year’s edition of the William F. Buckley Jr. Prize for Leadership and Political Thought.”

I did stop to think about it. I mean, I did not instinctively say yes. I did have to think about it ’cause once you say yes to one then you’ve kind of set a precedent. It’s harder to say no to any others that come forward.

Now, previous winners — this is another reason why I was inspired to accept this — Charles Krauthammer has received this award. Victor Davis Hanson has received it. George Shultz, the former secretary of state for Ronaldus Magnus. The esteemed author Tom Wolfe and Ed Feulner, who was really the engine and the intellectual heft behind the Heritage Foundation at the time this program started in 1988, ’90, and so forth.

So this is pretty august, exclusive air here that I’ve been asked to share and breathe. So I happily accepted it. And a good friend of mine, Gay Gaines, who has been tireless in working for the advancement of conservative — she ran GOPAC for Mr. Newt, for example, for many, many moons. In fact, she asked me to come speak to GOPAC one Sunday during the football season. “You know I don’t do this. I don’t leave the TV on Sunday. The Cowboys and 49ers, I’m not gonna miss that game.”

So she put a TV up in the greenroom for me and scheduled the time of the speech where I could do it at halftime and then leave after the speech and go back and watch the rest. That was the speech where I told people that I got my mom a new can opener because of budget cuts for Social Security and so forth. My mom wasn’t gonna starve. I went out and got her a new can opener to open the dog food. And Pat Schroeder went to the floor of the House next day (imitating Schroeder), “Boy, is that not — he just admitted it, the big kahuna, his own mother is going to eat dog food, and his contribution is a new can opener.”

And somebody pulled her aside, said, “Look, that was a joke.” So she tried to slither out of it. But it was that event. It’s a black tie affair. That would be another reason for me to say no. I do not wear closed collars anymore. See, I am making immense sacrifices and changes to do this.

Hey, when you get to my age at this stage you don’t have to do what you don’t — In fact, I guarantee you, if I showed up with an open collar they wouldn’t kick me out, I guarantee. But I will have more respect for the event than to do that. It’s October 30th. It’s at The Breakers here in Palm Beach. They’ve got website link for it at National Review and we’ll share that at


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