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

Buckley leaves National Review after Obama endorsement

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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. Fred (I)

    HAHA! He has seen the Light!

    October 14, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  2. Julie in California

    Awesome! This is the kind of values I want in my party...hooray for you!

    Go Obama!

    October 14, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. the Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Hey there is a job opening at the DNC. I'm sure he could join Hagel there.

    What a jerk. He made his living dissing Dems now he appears to like em.

    Amazing.

    October 14, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  4. Bayside, Annap Maryland

    A Brave Action if Ever I saw one.

    October 14, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  5. Ronnie in Gregory, TX

    Mr. Buckley is truly a man of principle and keen intellect. A lot of Americans think conservatives no longer have America in their hearts. They are just conserving stupidity and making this nation the laughing stock of the world. Go conserve yourself–you are a dying breed.

    October 14, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  6. Chris

    "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,"

    Excellent statement

    The current administration (GOP) has alienated the USA.

    GDP has also grown 2x faster under Democrats – per history

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

    Congratulations to Mr. Buckley for seeing that conservatism is no longer what it was in the past. John McCain was part of the last eight years.

    In addition, the notion that someone who will vote for Obama is more liberal is ridiculous. The fact is, any intelligent person who doesn't vote for Obama and thinks McCain (and his disjointed, flip flopping campaign) is the right person for the job, is either racist or an irrational ideologue.

    October 14, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  8. Linda31

    Is that a nice way of saying they fired him???

    October 14, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  9. Marsha (Atlanta)

    Welcome Mr. Buckley...You are very courageous. When Barack is elected we will all have given hatred a big fat smack down!!!!!

    October 14, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  10. BAT

    He should not resign, why not other people resign? (such as Obama's pastor, florida congressman, etc)

    Obama will NEVER have my vote..

    October 14, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  11. redhead from toronto

    Nia Hussein – Get a life and some manners

    October 14, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. BOOTSTOMPER

    Rich lowery seems like a self absorbed spoiled rich kid..Buckley did the right thing by moving on and i hpoe other conservatives see the light, but i doubt it.

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

    All this for speaking his mind, I thought this was American? Buckley needs the Profiles in Courage Award.

    October 14, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  14. What a complete moron

    I'm glad to see that there are some conservatives who aren't hoodwinked by lies or hamstrung by party loyalty. The 'conservatives' who ran the country for the past eight years have, indeed, given 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," This man is a true maverick, hero and patriot... not the manure that McCain and the current spate of GOP crooks are trying to spread.

    October 14, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  15. Arkansas Undertaker

    I am in total shock, but WELCOME aborad! Barack does not discriminate against anyone.

    Its about time that the Conservatives opened their eyes to what their ideals are doing to our country.

    October 14, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  16. Sarah- ARIZONA

    Good for him. He is being honest with himself and so should the rest of the republican party.

    Vote Obama 08

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

    is this whole thing meant to be humourous? "becoming more liberal is tantamount to becoming more open-minded" and he's saying that that's a bad thing? You americans make my day on a regular basis. If you think the global lack respect for your country is all because of Bush then you need to stop and think, because i can list a dozen names off the top of my head of people who are equal contributors. personally I'd like you guys to get your act together, because down here in the pacific, China is looking more and more ominous, and i don't fancy having to depend on a basket case for backup if China makes a move on Australia, or any other country between us and them.

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

    Good for you, if they won't allow you to be objective, screw them!!!

    October 14, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  19. Ryan

    I respect this man's decision to resign from his position at this conservative outpost. It does seem that republicans, who once were thought of as 'conservative' and with 'tight fiscal policies' have now turned into Washington fat cats, living high off the hog with all kinds of disgusting, wasteful spending, and a terrible gambling addiction (with taxpayers' money) that has truly put this country in the hole. Hopefully it is not too late for something to be done to turn this around. Hopefully, Obama will win the election, and something will actually be done to help save the American legacy in our World's history.

    October 14, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  20. Frankie from Miami FL

    Thats real big of Mr.Buckley to stand up openly to what he beleives in.

    October 14, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  21. Dorothy-Oregon

    Good for him! He's seen the light!

    October 14, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  22. CNN TOO TIMID TO REPORT PALIN'S ABUSE OF POWER

    The bold Mr. Buckley opts for love of country over political expediency. You have a lot to feel proud of, sir. Most people in your place wouldn't – don't – have the courage.

    October 14, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  23. petena

    Well said. i know it took guts but he spoke the truth. I am sure there will be more of him to follow. The Republican party is falling apart.

    October 14, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  24. yen

    What an honest person!! It is not unusual to leave ones party when things go wrong in every way possible. Palin is not helping McCain.
    She is a great distraction to every body. Because of her ignorance of the isssues of our country, she is trying all she could to spread fear and hatred about Obama.She is not going to succeed.

    October 14, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  25. KC

    This has been my thinking for some time now. Thank you, you can be a "conservative" and still have an open mind. Aparently there are "conservatives" that must hold fast and true to one point in their way of thinking and never I meen never or under any reason look outside the box.

    October 14, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
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