October 14th, 2008
09:30 PM ET
10 years ago

Buckley leaves National Review after Obama endorsement

Buckley has resigned his post from the National Review.

Buckley has resigned his post from the National Review.

(CNN) - Christopher Buckley, the son of conservative icon William F. Buckley, said Tuesday he's resigned from the conservative National Review days after endorsing Barack Obama's White House bid, among the most powerful symbols yet of the conservative discontent expressed this election cycle.

In an online column, Buckley said he had decided to offer his resignation from the magazine his father founded after hundreds of readers and some National Review colleagues expressed outrage he was backing the Illinois senator.

"While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for," Buckley wrote.

"Eight years of 'conservative' government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case," he also wrote.

The resignation comes four days after Buckley formally endorsed Obama on the Web site The Daily Beast, writing the presidential campaign had made John McCain "inauthentic," and Obama appeared to have a "first-class temperament and first-class intellect."

In a statement posted on the publication's Web site Tuesday, National Review editor Rich Lowry noted Buckley was writing for the magazine on a trial basis, and took his offer to resign with the "warmest regards and understanding" sincerely. Lowry also took issue with Buckley's contention the magazine had been flooded with angry mail over Buckley's endorsement, saying it had received a relatively small 100 e-mails expressing disapproval.

"It's an intense election season and emotions are running high," Lowry said.

Matt Lewis, a contributing writer to the conservative Web site Townhall.com, told CNN the National Review made the right decision in quickly accepting Buckley's resignation.

"While it is acceptable for a conservative to vote for a third party – or to abstain from voting for McCain – no real conservative could cast their vote for Obama," he said. "The conservative movement didn’t leave him, he left it.

But in his column Tuesday, Buckley expressed disappointment the magazine, and conservatives in general, were not more open to dissenting opinions that his own father once championed.

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman," he said, adding later, "My point, simply, is that William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much."

Buckley is only the latest among several prominent conservative to express dissatisfaction with McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin. David Brooks, Kathleen Parker, David Frum, Peggy Noonan, and George Will, all high-profile conservative thinkers, have each openly criticized the ticket over the last month.

"Sadly, I think Christopher Buckley is merely the latest example of the “conservative” avant-garde who has succumbed to a common temptation: Becoming more liberal is tantamount to becoming more open-minded. There is a palpable elitism among some of the conservative panjandrum," Lewis said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra • John McCain
soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. Eight Is Truly Enough

    Now THIS is what a real Maverick does. LOL

    October 14, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. Obama the RIGHT Choice!

    Now THIS is what a Hero looks like folks !

    October 14, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. Nia Hussein- Phoenix, AZ

    ...leaves for Faux news...
    Two fingers Buckley...two fingers

    October 14, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  4. mitch

    one of the many conservatives left without a party. barack obama welcomes everyone.

    October 14, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  5. Marylou

    GOd Bless you Chris, the "new day" conservatives call the Dems liberal...I am a moderate Dem, and some of the "new day" conservatives are way left of me!

    October 14, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  6. The Sanguine

    Welcome, Christopher. It's good to have you.

    October 14, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  7. john for obama

    I applaud Mr Buckley. These "conservatives" need to wake up and look up what it stands for because they are not following its principles.

    October 14, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  8. thed Weller

    Wow! It's a new day in America. & I'm glad. Real Change is coming...Vote Nov. 4th!

    October 14, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |

    ENTITLED ,,,,,,,,,,,,,TO,,,,,,,,,,,,,HIS,,,,,,,,,,,,,OPINION,,,,,,,,,,,GOOD,,,,,,,,,,,,


    October 14, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  10. bill

    Good for you, Mr. Buckley! You deserve tremendous credit for calling you like you see it. No double talk. No word play. Just plain calling it like you see it! ou have earned such respect in this country. Go get 'em!


    October 14, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  11. Kate

    Anyone with any SENSE at all is staying far away from the McCain/Palin ticket, especially after seeing the behavior of their 'base' supporters at rallies. Buckley's abandonment of the Republican party is the latest of many, but it won't be the last. Perhaps after the Republicans stop allowing the far religious right to run their party, they will once again be the party of smaller goverment and will be deserving of a second look. But for now, the choice for any sane and reasonable person is clear: Obama/Biden '08.

    October 14, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  12. T

    It is quite correct that Mr. Buckley was forced out due to his acknowledgment that the conservative movement has been totally destroyed. McCain / Rove have seriously compromised the status of this country and God help us all.

    Hopefully, McCain, 72, will retire now.

    October 14, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  13. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Stand for what you believe in, or fall for anything. Congrats. Smart man. Repubs are switching over in droves. Can't say I blame them.

    On another note: (ha ha – one of CNNs reporters said he attended an ACORN training where about half the people wore Obama buttons, so there is an Obama tie ——- hmmmmm – wonder what buttons the other half wore?).

    October 14, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  14. A Woman In California For Obama:

    Thank you Mr. Buckley! You are truly an inspiration to many republicans who feel just as you do. (WE) Obama supporters thank you and commend you for your decision.

    Again, thank you.

    October 14, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. vet for obama

    Congratulations, Chris.

    You said in a nutshell what the Republicans have been doing in Washington for years--claiming to be small government and representing high moral values, but sneaking around behind the people and lining their own pockets while being ethically empty....

    Just like that Idaho republican Craig who got arrested in an airport bathroom in Minnesota....ugh!!!

    October 14, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  16. Joe

    Great American

    October 14, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  17. Bob in Florida

    At last.....a man of integrity who calls it like it is......not like the boneheads who vote for a party....like rooting for a football team..

    October 14, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  18. Lesley

    Ruinous expansion of entitlement programs should be stapled to the foreheads of Republicans who blame the Dems for entitlements. I always enjoyed Wm. F. Buckley's humor, intellect, and wit and wondered recently how he would feel if he could witness what has become of the party over the last 8 years and also his views on the current presidential race. I feel that he would express the same sentiments as his son. How far down the conservative right has fallen.

    October 14, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  19. joe-6-pack

    wow...."the magazine his father founded "- wow...wow....no way dude.....you are a true american hero......i respect this guy alot.......

    October 14, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  20. That one is Karl Marxs friend too

    Another non story. If he can endorse a left socialist he was never a conservative anyway. He couldn't hold his father's pen....

    October 14, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  21. Junni

    Good for you, Buckley. That's shameful that the conservative party would boot him like that.

    October 14, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  22. Dan, TX

    By elitist, I guess then mean a person who uses critical thinking and formal logic. There are no elitists in the modern conservative movement with whom I am familiar.

    October 14, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  23. Surafel Melaku

    Where is McSame! Ha? Instead of attacking Obama fix your party well, after all you relay of their vote, right?

    October 14, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  24. pam Eugene OR

    That is what integrity looks like! Have a good look McCain because you sure won't see it in a mirror ever again.
    Good for you for standing up for your beliefs Mr. Buckley. I find you to be credible an honest.
    Thank you Sir and you are correct!
    Obama/Biden for truth, honor and the American people

    October 14, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  25. AM in VA

    Being conservative is not a movement; it is a principle. It's been hijacked by a segment of the Republican party.

    It's great to see people of principle step forward and repudiate the usurpers (McCain used to be one of these, now he might even lose Arizona !). Bravo Christopher Buckley, your father would be proud !!

    Obama '08

    October 14, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
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