Election nights in the Bagel were always spent at 73 East 73rd Street, in Bill and Pat Buckley’s house, more often than not described as palatial by eager-to-please gossip columnists. In reality it was a fine New York maisonette, better suited for entertainment rather than cosy living, the latter reserved for their tiny and warm Connecticut house. Alas, both Bill and Pat are now gone, so I had to fend for myself, liberal and politically minded New Yorkers not eager to entertain someone who found Palin sexy and appreciated McCain’s service to his country. Actually, it felt strange on election night not to be rubbing elbows with the likes of Norman Podhoretz — watching him squirm at my presence, rather — or listening to the delightfully accented English of Henry Kissinger. But rubbing elbows was fun these past 40 years chez Bill and Pat. People like Tom and Sheila Wolfe, Tom always in his white suit, always impeccably polite with his southern manners, Jay Nordlinger, his expertise of classical music and culture matched only by his friendliness and lack of pomposity, and my old proprietor Conrad Black, a fountain of knowledge about elections past, so much so, in fact, that I once accused him of having read up on them the night before. (He had not.)
In 1968 we watched as Richard Nixon’s southern strategy won him the White House, and in 1980 Reagan’s landslide had us cheering early on. Then came 1988, and the good Bush victory over a Greek, to be followed by the two draft-dodger victories which gave me an excuse to drown my sorrows in public and rather messily. In 2004, having founded the American Conservative, I was asked by Dr K which candidate I had backed.