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. Michael

    He realized how bad McNasty has become.


    October 14, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  2. texas democrat

    I guess freedom of speech no longer apply to republicans.

    October 14, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  3. America for Justice



    OBAMA 08

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

    I understand completely. I am, by no means, as conservative as Buckley, but I generally have more conservative leanings. But when things are so messed up you can't just maintain the status quo. This would be the case no matter who is in charge. Bush has let things hit rock bottom, and John McCain is by no means the answer. Better luck next cycle GOP, but this time around:

    go Obama/Biden

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

    thier true colors are coming out..the repukes are pathetic...indep for BO/JB

    October 14, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  6. Howard Roark

    Interesting, how CNN and other media outlets feel free to characterize the National Review and similar entities as "conservative." Certainly that's true, yet they do not characterize left leaning outlets such as the New York Times as the "liberal" New York Times, or the "liberal" Rolling Stone Magazine, etc. It's okay to qualify a magazine or newspaper as conservative, but not okay to characterize one as liberal.

    October 14, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  7. Corey W

    Well done, well done Mr. Buckley you have taken a serious stand.

    October 14, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  8. death of the republican party?

    Much respect to this guy.
    Proof that not everyone in the Republican Party is insane.

    Bridging Parties Since 2008

    October 14, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. w.l. jones

    Mr. Buckley got his Daddy smartness he putting America first like all knowledgable citizen...way to go sir..

    October 14, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. box101

    GOOD for him! I applaud him for having the gumption to adhere to his viewpoint even if it was against his "mainstream reality". So many other Republicans would do good to follow his example!

    October 14, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  11. ss

    While I disagree with his politics, I have to applaud Mr. Buckley for honoring his own convictions. It's a courageous thing to stand for your beliefs when it means alienating those who you presumed were your friends and colleagues - a la Kathleen Parker. Those of the far right have realized that they can hang together or hang separately - but hang they will. Their time cannot come soon enough.

    October 14, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  12. Gene

    Wait.. it's coming.. the country is about to get a fresh coat of blue paint on the election map.. I have a feeling that many states this year will turn blue that have always voted republican.

    October 14, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  13. Denise

    So what! Everybody want a change for a Better America Not a Bitter America. The last 8yrs have been bitter. GO OBAMA!!!!!!

    October 14, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  14. douglas Frank

    Although I am a Democrat, I have the greatest respect for Christopher Buckley, as I did for his father. William F. Buckley was an honest, ethical and extremely intelligent person. There are certain realities about this election year that no such person should be inclined to accept. My hat is off to Christopher Buckley for taking an honest and ethical stand and sacrificing for it. His father would be proud of him.

    October 14, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  15. JO

    "Appearances are so deceiving"....

    October 14, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  16. Anne E.

    Thank you, Mr. Buckley! I can't say whether your father would be proud of you for your endorsing Sen. Obama, but I know he would be proud of you for standing for your convictions.


    October 14, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  17. Pete Collins

    Finally, I have some company. It was lonely being the only conservative to see the Bush-Cheney-McCain team for the fraud on conservatism they are. Is Buckley the only well-known conservative willing and able to speak the truth? Inconvenient as it is, what he wrote is in fact the truth.

    October 14, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  18. Don from Maine

    Kudo to Mr. Buckley for standing up for your principals. You sir, are a shining beacon of reality and common sense. I too have become disillusioned with the republican conservative base. This republican ticket in this election is the most pathetic tifcket put together in the last 40 years. Mc Cain is out of touch with the common person and Palin is flat out of touch with reality. I cannot beleive this is the best the republicans had to offer. Smears, lies, fear mongering and hate will not get the job done.The American people want solutions not rhetoric. Its time to retire john McWar and send Caribou Barbie back to Alaska. Obam/Biden in the biggest political landslide in voting histlry. YES WE CAN

    October 14, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  19. SHELLI1313

    Cudos to you Buckley! Senator Obama is Presidential and Honest. I have seen on my job many Republican whites, men and women talking amongst each other saying how they can't believe how McCain and Palin are telling lies one after the other and they are disgusted. I've been disgusted for almost 2 years with the lies of the Republicans that is why I have left the Republican party and gone full force with the Dems. I like hearing the truth and I don't care if Senator Obama raises my taxes, insurance, food bill. If it will get us out of this caa caa that we are in, so be it. I am pleased to be a part of the group that helps out country.

    Former Republican
    Shelli of Georgia

    October 14, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  20. Bill Henry

    I am a Canuck in the US. sorry but the american right is so stupid sometimes. Some idiot above says welcome to higher taxes under Obama, but Bush doubled the debt, and the fact Obama realizes someone has to pay the bills is being irresponsible!?! LOL . Fiscally responsible means a balanced budget. Sorry, but McCain is doomed because Bush has been fiscally incompetent. And I thought Ford was great and Bush Sr. not bad. Hated CLinton even though he did a good job. So i am not some Liberal lefty. Just someone who is educated.

    October 14, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  21. Thanh

    If you have a true independent mind, you will always listen to both sides of the debate, not just one side, and shut the other out.

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

    I use to listen to your dad....I thought he was conservative. I am stunned that you can see past all the bad tones of today and can back Obama....Your awesome to put your prosepectives in order.

    October 14, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  23. Foxhole Atheist

    It's clear that Bible Spice was not a good pick for VP. This was McCain's first presidential decision and he botched it.

    If he can't even get ahold of his own campaign, you can't tell me he can run a country.

    October 14, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. natal

    Goldwater conservatives feel the GOP has been hi-jacked by the christian right. If they can't be ousted to form their own party then the only recourse for someone like Chris Buckley is to leave. True conservatism has been lost. Ask George will.

    October 14, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  25. Texas Teacher

    Oh, my.... another ATTACK AD on Lou Dobbs show, of course! All these republicans can do is lie.... hate and fear monger. The smell of desperation is putrid!

    Sad..... just plain sad.

    October 14, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
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