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. in Oregon

    The essay he wrote is brilliant- concise, honest, even poetic. If you haven't read it, please do.

    Thank you, Mr. Buckley, for standing up for what you believe in, even when it is unpopular.

    October 14, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  2. Cynthia - Arkansas

    Thank goodness we have people who have the courage to speak out!
    They have to live in the country too. I don't know how serious, intelligent people are still supporting the McCain/Palin ticket. They are so pathetic to watch. Everything Palin says is a lie, and McCain seems to have totally lost his way. I think he has let Bush's handlers turn him into a dishonest and disengenious person. How sad.

    We need a true leader who will bring this country together, not divide it with hate. Obama is so presidential, he makes me proud!

    October 14, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  3. Jamie

    The bold Mr. Buckley opts for love of country over partisan chauvinism. 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 |
  4. The Truth

    This country is way to politicized. Im a democrat and i could see myself voting for a republican of the likes of Reagan (although that kind of candidate has not shown themselves for the last 12 years) more people like Buckley should be able to stand up for their beliefs and not have to worry about any backlash.

    October 14, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  5. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Nice to see intelligence and an absorption of facts and recent history outweighs blind allegiance to a failed philosophy. Beginning with Reagan, modern Conservatism has been THE single most disasterous thing to befall our formerly great country. And John McCain and Palin would be thrilled to take the baton from the worst president in our history and continue down the same tragic path in their quest for ego gratification.

    October 14, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  6. Skinniib

    Good for you Christopher! This is what being American is all about. Standing up for and realizing what is right and what is wrong in the world today. The Repub's are a mess now more than ever and will never admit to it. So, GOOD FOR YOU and thanks for speaking the truth, being a stand-up person, and being one more person that helps to UNITE(OBAMA) and not divide(McCain) this country.

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

    This is funny.
    If democrats endorse McCain – they're bright people who push partisanship aside, and fight for common sense. True americans.

    If a conservative – and let's not kid ourselves here – does it get much more conservative than this man? Endorses Obama – clearly they were false prophets of conservatism, and were secretly pinko commie marxists the whole time. In fact – we never really trusted them anyways, we knew it was just a matter of time before their real colors show...

    get real people.
    The republican party abandoned Conservatism a LONG time ago.

    October 14, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  8. Independent leaning Obama

    And thou shall know the truth shall set you free.

    October 14, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  9. angel M.

    that is a very commendable move, and I believe that his father would be proud of him for standing up for what he beleives in

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

    Thank you, Mr. Buckley,
    As a 61 year old, lifetime Republican, I too am disenchanted and disgusted with what has happened to my Party. I cannot vote for the Republican ticket, and am actually looking forward to casting my vote for Mr. Obama. First time ever (that means 40 years) I've voted Democratic. That has got to mean something!

    October 14, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  11. California Gold

    Just when you think it's safe to rely on people who vote for the party and turn a blind eye to the candidate! McCain is surely setting a record for driving away voters. McCain was doing a good job at turning off "dye in the wool" Republicans. Palin was the catalyst. Now Republicans can't wait to vote Democrat.

    This is a new definition of the word 'maverick'. 🙂

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

    No one can deny that Obama is far more intelligent than McCain (Palin is so dumb, she's in a category in itself).

    Thank you, Mr. Buckley, for speaking your mind.

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

    Good for Christopher Buckley. These people are not his father's conservatives. Their agenda is entirely self serving. Our country is in real trouble and at this point in time, the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few.

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

    Good riddance to bad rubbish!

    October 14, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  15. Linda S

    Mr. Buckley, you have my admiration for standing up for what you believe in! I, too, no longer recognize the Republican Party, which has lapsed into a frightening and chaotic mess, and is being run by arrogant, self-serving people of low character, who have sold their country down the river, and without conscience. I believe your Father would be quite proud of you!

    October 14, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  16. Meg Madison, Cary North Carolina

    Amazing and important! Thank you, Mr. Buckley, for stepping up and speaking out.

    October 14, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  17. Felines for Freedom

    The thing is, he didn't leave the conservative party – it left him and all true conservatives who believe in fiscal responsibility and small government. The GOP has a new definition these days and the intelligent GOPers are recognizing its not a favorable one. I am a self-professed liberal, but if there were more Rockefeller Repubs in the GOP, I would be much more inclined to see the party favorably.

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

    Stop lying Chris "He resigned but by his account it sounds like they couldn’t wait to get him out the door and, in all but official language, was fired.

    October 14, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  19. republicans hate america

    welcome to the smart side

    October 14, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  20. The American Dream is Alive and Well

    Wow – Obama supporters will welcome you with open arms, just as we welcomed the Hagels.

    It's sad that American conservatives are so corrupt now that Mr. Buckley would be forced to make this decision. Either way, we're marching with Obama right to the White House

    October 14, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  21. Lee in Ohio

    Lewis is wrong. Mr. Buckley has not become more liberal. He is simply thinking carefully about the results of the past eight years. I respect his point of view and his courage in expressing it. We could use more people like him in both political parties.

    October 14, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  22. Leslie from Garden Grove, CA

    This man is TRULY a maverick! Go Buckley!

    October 14, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  23. Moon Maiden from Lake Michigan

    Soon it will be one party, Real Change is coming
    More and more will begin to see the light.

    October 14, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  24. mike in central va

    there will be more crossovers to come. just stay tuned.

    October 14, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  25. Herman In LA

    Your a smart man sir...

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