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

Buckley leaves National Review after Obama endorsement


[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/14/art.buckley2.gi.jpg caption="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. s

    I didn't agree much with your father on politics, Chris, but I respected him. He was civil in his disagreement and even witty. I'm glad to see you inherited his civility and clear-thinking.

    October 14, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. rob

    Good on Buckley. He's a funny writer and his father had some intellectual credibility. There's no one in the movement these days that could shine his shoes.

    October 14, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  3. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    There is no loyalty which should hinder one from full self expression.
    It seems as if the conservatives only tolerate those who are willing to be parrots, spewing the same rhetoric in face of the obvious differences.
    Mr. Christopher Buckley is an authentic individual who will not surrender his soul to any one or any ideology. The claim of The Eternal is on his life.

    October 14, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. Mark R

    No, this is not what a Maverick or a Hero does, runs out when someone disagrees with his choice. If he was a man of his word, he would not quit. He would stand for what he believes in without backing down. This is a man with no backbone to stand up for what he believes, he would rather blaming others for his quitting.

    October 14, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  5. Daran

    Smart people do make brilliant choices
    it's time for us leave pride aside and say it as it is

    October 14, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  6. Stephan


    October 14, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  7. Facing Conservatism's Obsolescence

    Conservatives are colliding with their philosophy's own obsolescence. Chris Buckley has realized the limitations of conservative philosophy. If you pick up one end of the stick (Ronald Reagan) . . . eventually you pick up the other end of the stick (George W. Bush). Times are different . . . solutions are different . . . stick with bromides of the past . . . and you end up with the stupidity of George W. Bush.

    October 14, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. andrea

    Sorry Mccain more and more people are gettig it! Your a lier and so is palin! You would think she would want her soon to be son inlaw to get an education! Instead he said hes quiting school to work the oil fields Stupid!!!!

    October 14, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  9. Jason

    Welcome to the right side of history, good sir.

    October 14, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Perusing-Through

    PROOF . . .

    More evidence that you cannot have a "momentary difference of opinion" with the conservatives. You may have similar conservative views, but if you differ on a single issue, , , , , they will ostracize you without mercy.

    GOD Bless the United States of America!
    GOD Bless the Obama-Biden Leadership Team!

    October 14, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  11. Who's left in the GOP?

    If no true american conservative will vote for McCain. If the moderates are gone, the intellectuals, and the principals they stand for, are gone, What kind of people are left in the GOP? *shudder* No thanks

    Obama 08

    October 14, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  12. Mom in MN

    I am impressed with your strength to stand up for what you believe in. this is America, we have the right and responsiblity to do so and not be attacked for it.
    Thank you Chris.

    October 14, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  13. Lilarose in Bandon-by-the-Sea, Oregon

    Thank you, Christopher Buckley, for being honest.

    That is the most important personal attribute a man or woman can possess.

    All things in life revolve around honesty, and often it is hard to live up to being honest for many reasons.

    But I think being honest also liberates us in so many ways.

    October 14, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
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