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. John Dinwiddie

    Here's a man worth watching. Would that
    each of us could find the courage to walk
    away from each our own "smelly orthodoxy,"
    as Orwell put it. Not knowing where one is
    ideologically is more often a step up than
    a step down.

    October 14, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  2. Andrea Austin TX

    Thank you Christopher Buckley for your courage and your strength. It is my hope that many others in leadership positions such as yours will follow your lead and own the truth. Authentic power lies in truth, on all levels. God bless you.

    October 14, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  3. concerned coloradan

    Another conservative sees the light!

    October 14, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  4. Matt

    I have a lot of respect for him

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

    Smart Man!!!!

    October 14, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  6. Sue in MI

    I admire this man. He knows what he believes, and isn't afraid to stand up for it.

    October 14, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  7. Welcome!


    Congratulations on coming in from the cold. We welcome you to the left!

    October 14, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  8. John

    Wonder how long it's gonna be before Sean Hannity calls this guy a traitor.

    October 14, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  9. Big Bear, Bearden, AR 71720

    I feel very bad for William Buckley. This is a case of the true prodigal son moving as far away from Dad as possible. How anyone with a conservative influence of any type, support Obama, who is aligned with Ayers, Wright, Rezko, a Saudi millionaire, a former PLO agent, and a card carrying Communist, for President of the free United States, just goes to show how the future generations are willing to torpedo democracy.

    October 14, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  10. senja

    Thank you Mr. Buckley

    October 14, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  11. susans

    Good for him.. I am sure a lot of republicans feet that way.

    October 14, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  12. hometowndemocrat

    A conservative with a brain and a backbone............whodda thunk it!

    October 14, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  13. Debbie

    Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. It's time America realized that "conservatism" has been hijacked – it no longer implies prudence and steadfastness. It's reactionary, intolerant and dangerous. Mr. Buckley you are a brave man, a principled man, and I honor you.

    October 14, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  14. randy

    may be the tell him to leave because he is bad for business.

    October 14, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  15. Trysh, Los Angeles

    I think his father would be proud of his honesty. He's not a Republican just because that is the team he learned as a child. He believes in something and if they aren't living up to his belief system then he is not voting honestly.

    I think its irrational and irresponsible to tell someone they aren't self respecting if they vote their conscious and not their team.

    October 14, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  16. bottom line

    And thats the bottom line.

    Obama/Biden 2008!

    October 14, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  17. dd

    wow high five!!!! good

    October 14, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  18. Abdul

    Stand up for what you believe in Buckley!!
    OBMA/BIDEN '08

    October 14, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  19. mary ca

    right on sir, well done

    October 14, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  20. David

    smart man...calling it as he sees it. I can respect that, even though his beliefs differ greatly from mine.

    October 14, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  21. Old white woman for Obama

    That's OK Mr. Buckley, the Republicans don't even have a clue what they stand for!
    Thank you for your honesty Sir.

    October 14, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  22. Janine

    I agree with Christopher Buckley. I have voted Republican during every presidential election even hate to say for Bush. This is the first time I've actually paid attention. I have been watching these blogs since this past Summer during the primaries. The racist and downright nasty comments about Blacks are absurd. If being Republican and conservative means hating my American neighbor for the color of his skin or his religion, then I want no part of it.

    October 14, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  23. Murf

    It seems there is no place for a man of principle, and objectivity, in the conservative movement. The same seems to be true of the republican party. Mr. Buckley will no doubt prosper which is not something that can presently be said of Senator McCain, the conservatives or the republicans.

    October 14, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  24. redhead from toronto

    A man who will stand for his priciples, how refreshing. Your father would be proud of you for that. Good luck to you sir, may your future be bright.

    October 14, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  25. Ron

    Finally some conservatives are beginning to see the light! I applaud this man for this difficult decision. I think Americans, especially those on the far right, really need to look hard at what has happened over the past eight years, and then look at themselves in the mirror and takae a long deep breath, and ask the question "Is my political ideology more important or is the country, the future of our children and our institutions?" Those who are true to themselves cannot possibly vote for Mccain/ Palin.

    By the way CNN, in case you didn't get this piece of information – October 8th Minnesota State university poll survey puts Obama in front in North Dakota by 2 points (45-43) and an ARG survey in West Virginia puts him in front by 8 points (50-42). I appeal to you to cover even the so called "safe red states" in your excellent electoral map coverage with John King, because I don't think they are showing red anymore.

    October 14, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
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