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. Candid

    Is the Freedom of Speech still existing in our country?
    Our country is a free country, not communist; we have to respect different opinions.

    Chris, you are very brave, and it proves you're a good person; you should be proud of yourself. I really admire you.

    October 14, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  2. James

    I have seen so many life long Republicans jumping ship , and you really can't blame them.

    October 14, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  3. Jill, New Jersey

    This guy is a big zero--he's been riding his father's coattails all his life and never accomplished anything-

    Give him an office next to Bill Richardson, a guy you can really trust-

    Or better yet, make him CEO of ACORN-

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

    That's a change i can believe in! Welcome!!!

    October 14, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  5. Howard Roark

    In addition, every night you'll hear CNN reporters and anchors refer to so-and-so Senator as the conservative Senator from X, but you'll NEVER hear them say the "liberal" Senator from Y.

    October 14, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  6. Ed

    This is the REAL Maverick!

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

    How on earth a media outlet in the 21st century force someone out because he happens to have a different opinion is beyond me. I guess for dogmatic conservatives free thinking works only when one is inline with their thoughts.

    October 14, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  8. sam Phily

    Good decision....
    You are not the only one who changed his mind....Recent Bush policies made me completely away from GOP....

    October 14, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  9. Tanya

    Not everyone is as good with words as Mr. Buckley but many moderate Republicans think the same thing.
    Being ashamed that one is Republican for, at least, last four years. Watching with growing concern and, lately, with horror, John McCain's erratic behavior. And, to top it all, thoughts of having Sarah Palin as the President!

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

    Unlike some other Republicans we all know, Mr. Buckley actually puts his "country first".

    October 14, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  11. al

    By the way: "Becoming more liberal is tantamount to becoming more open-minded." per Mr. Lewis in the article.

    Can someone please tell me when, exactly, it became wrong to be open-minded. If that is what defines a liberal, then I guess that is what I am. Never realized it before.

    October 14, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  12. 3rd Eye

    Who opened Pandora's box? The contents have been released. Politics, race, religion. To all concerned, your allowing your emotions to control your actions.The road we are all on will come to a dead end with unwanted sacrifices. All of us will be touched and hurt.There is no stopping this, it has been opened, heaven help us.There is no hope, it is being clouded with hate. Oh great one, please stop the world, I would like to get off.

    October 14, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |


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

    Took alot of guts but you obviously came to the right conclusion.

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

    A Great American. He is absolutly right about the conservatives in the US. What do they stand for? And are they proud of the job that GW Bush and the Rupublicans have done in governing and leading us?
    A true Patriot


    October 14, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  16. No Hillary = No Obama

    I wonder if sonny boy would have jumped ship had daddy not died in February. It looks like he's finally able to stand on his own two feet without losing status had his father still been alive. The psychoanalysts could have a field day with this one.

    October 14, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  17. kayla


    October 14, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  18. AIB

    Those who are smart and care about the future of this country, not their personal interests, will support Senator Obama. The contrast between Senator Obama and Senator McCain is huge. The choice is clear. Buckley, for the love of his country, chose the right one.

    October 14, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. Don of Wisconsin

    Obviously this "Buckley" received defective genes.......

    October 14, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  20. Katie

    Christopher Buckley has been my favorite conservative for a long time. Congratulations–welcome to the winning team!

    October 14, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  21. Wendy

    Change we can believe in

    October 14, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  22. Jean 2


    October 14, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |

    The Obama Camp Welcomes you Mr. Buckley. Now this is when the term MAVERICK should be used!!!!

    October 14, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  24. Obama 08: white, female, 60 yr old supporter

    Buckley put "country first" rather than playing partisan politics...

    October 14, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  25. DJ

    Change is tough America.

    October 14, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
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