William F. Buckley is almost single-handedly responsible for my respect for conservative intellectuallism. Watching him as a teen on Firing line, I was always impressed by how he seemed to have the better of the argument. It was fascinating to watch him.
One of the saddest legacies of the Bush years is the resurgence of Yahooism in conservative circles, where emotion trumps reason, fear overcomes logic and core conservative principles are barely understood, more than simply abandoned. Here and there someone like George Will keeps up the good fight, but for the most part it looks like conservatives are likely to return to the wilderness for a while, and deservedly so. Having no clue about the root cause of Obama's appeal, they're likely to find themselves marginalized by him in a way not seen in a generation.
Buckley, himself, has raised objections to various aspects of Bushism, but the toll of advancing age meant he was unable to be a vigorous opponent. We can only hope that another strong advocate will emerge in due time. Liberalism will benefit from a proper critic.