Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chris Buckley gets Fatwahed

Chris Buckley puts it all rather well, I think.

First, his endorsement of Obama (as opposed to the increasingly evil, and entirely incoherent, J. McCain).

Second, his goodbye to the National Review.

An excerpt from the latter:

Within hours of my endorsement appearing in The Daily Beast it became clear that National Review had a serious problem on its hands. So the next morning, I thought the only decent thing to do would be to offer to resign my column there. This offer was accepted—rather briskly!—by Rich Lowry, NR’s editor, and its publisher, the superb and able and fine Jack Fowler. I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal.

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith. In 1969, Pup wrote a widely-remarked upon column saying that it was time America had a black president. (I hasten to aver here that I did not endorse Senator Obama because he is black. Surely voting for someone on that basis is as racist as not voting for him for the same reason.)

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. My father was also unpredictable, which tends to keep things fresh and lively and on-their-feet. He came out for legalization of drugs once he decided that the war on drugs was largely counterproductive. Hardly a conservative position. Finally, and hardly least, he was fun. God, he was fun. He liked to mix it up.

So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.

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. 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.

So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.

(Nod to Anonyman)


Vernunft said...

Except not really, at all, ever.

Anonymous said...

I too have left the GOP this election. Enough is enough. I can't support a party in which the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity control the agenda.

Anonymous said...

This is Anonyman for O,

I just want the record to show that I supported O and was fatawed months ago by my former R colleagues.

But what surprised me the most was how similar the reactions were (in a non-public way). The basic reaction from people I worked with for years was basically "good riddance, and please bend over on your way out."

I'm standing there thinking, "really, if someone that has worked for you for years at below market wage says that they are worried that the party is corrupt (ethically and philosophically), but rather than ask why, you would rather let the knowledge, experience, and possible future vote walkout...push them out, then ask the simple question of "why", you're then f-ed?"

I think this goes deeper than the right wing nut jobs taking over. I think this is the party of W, which means "we are right, because we are right, and therefore you must be wrong." It's really hard to right (no pun intended) the ship with that philosophy.

My prediction is that the Rs will be out of power (holding exec and leg branches) for at least a generation, and that my grandkids will see the O memorial go up in DC and ask me what a Republican was.


johnsal said...

What a shame. But we know that the second generation intellect seldom matches the original (Amis, pere and son, being notable exceptions). What is his problem with McCain? Overpromising a balanced budget, which was offered before the current financial troubles. Abandoning a campaign to return to Washington to do the nation's business. Buckley says McCain "brought resolution" to issues, but I guess resolution to participating in the process of formulating a program of USG support is not resolution. Who knew? McCain puts on attack ads... and Obama, of course, has the news media to do that for him... with no fingerprints. And finally, Palin who he abhors because apparently, she... didn't attend an Ivy League school. And now the fabulous Obama, who DID attend an Ivy League school - qualification #1 BTW. Oh, and he writes good books. Although most people conclude that he didn't actually write them, probably Ayres did, since he never published a word of his own writing while law review editor or, stunningly, 12 years of university teaching. Then he admits that Obama is a lefty and somehow assumes that inconvenient fact away. In fact, he assumes Obama will chuck all that by realizing the "traditional leftist politics aren't going to get us out of this pit"! The article is one huge stew of "we have rain, so let's just assume an umbrella." If this is a reflection of the state of Buckley's intellect, the NR decision seems right and proper. Now, if Buckley had actually written a coherent defense of a vote for Obama ON THE BASIS OF CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES then the NR decision would have egregious and wrong. NR is, after all, a publication that at least purports to support conservative principles. But Buckley has really committed intellectual incompetence here and should have been fired. And BTW the only thing we can be fairly certain of is that we will have politicians dominating our lives for the next generation.

Anonymous said...

The elites are coalescing. Too bad that some people in this country still think that only some elite group can make decisions wisely. In fact, wisdom comes from the many, debating the isssues and exchanging ideas freely and openly, regardless of where you went to school. Plato still rules.

Jorge Costales said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jorge Costales said...

I grew up of fan of WFB and have enjoyed Christopher Buckley's comic writings very much. As I recall WFB's annual fund appeals, running the magazine in as viable a manner as possible was not a minor consideration. As such, I thought it inelegant of him to go public with the details of the resignation.

Perhaps in attempting to throw Lowry under the bus, it represents another wink in the direction of his candidate, whose propensity for said activity is legendary in the non-MSM world.

The worst thing I can say about a comic novelist's presidential endorsement is that it showed bad timing. Now? Just when the economic tsunami finished drowning McCain? I believe his endorsement back in August would have been treated much differently and deservedly so. Then it would have appeared as a issue of conscious, not as a last minute opportunistic lunge to the obvious winning side.

Anonymous said...


Although I share your concern that jr. was late to apostate party, look at it the other way. Mac spent the summer hiring W's old campaign people, who produced ads saying O was a celebrity. It was funny, but a page from the old W play book of defining your opponent. Then at the convention he brought on a VP how was vapid at best. Then when that didn't turn things around, suspended his campaign because she (and increasingly he) was too damaging to be out on the campaign trail. Then spent the last week using her and fox snews to "connect the dots" about O's secret terrorist background (i.e. angry black guy, which is why the palin rallies last week turned into lynch mobs). If the last one doesn't push a modern day republican over the edge, then the party is doomed.

The point here isn't that jr. was late, but that people are now trying to dismiss it. This really is a bright neon sign for the republican party to do some serious thinking about the future. The R party will overwhelmingly lose the youth vote, the female vote and the independent vote. And they will not be coming back in 2-4 years to take another look at the R party, their party preference will likely be changed for good.

Mac/pallin will take the party down for their own ambitions. You should be more concerned with them than with jr.


Anon for O.

skeptic said...

Jr. seems to be pointing at the underlying issue, that the GOP has set it's core principals aside in an effort to remain in power. Endorsing Obama as a means of making said point seems counter-productive, he has is not the future of the GOP. Fundamentally, the repub's are going to be out of power for a while and there should be a reorganization, a re-commitment to a fiscally conservative platform. Also, a desperate search for qualified and charismatic leadership that can hold the line, so to speak,on these issues.

Anonymous said...

I read Christopher Buckley's endorsement of Obama and couldn't identify any argument in it other than that Obama's putatively a better writer than most politicians, which is the quintessence of faint praise. As for the Republican Party being intolerant, I'm not entirely sure why you'd expect its members not to react with amazement when the son of WFB endorses the candidacy of the man with the most left-wing voting record in the U.S. Senate. There was, quite simply, not a single well-reasoned argument in CB's entire article. There was, however, plenty of class snobbery on display. Sarah Palin is clearly considered "not our kind" in CB's circles. But then, neither am I, so I don't particularly find that to be grounds for disdain.

In regard to your description of John McCain as "increasingly evil," I recommend that you take a few deep breaths and get hold of yourself. Otherwise, if blogging is simply a form of primal scream therapy for you, then by all means carry on, with one less regular reader.

John Thacker said...

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.

It's pretty awesome the way he lists a large number of things that Sen. McCain voted against (and some even Sen. Obama was for, like the entitlement expansion and bridges to nowhere) as reasons to oppose McCain.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty awesome the way he lists a large number of things that Sen. McCain voted against (and some even Sen. Obama was for, like the entitlement expansion and bridges to nowhere) as reasons to oppose McCain.

Senator McCain was against these things. Unfortunately Senator McCain gave way to Candidate McCain, who has openly stated that he is for most of these things. And since when did McCain vote against the war?

@ BD
You still believe that canard about Obama having "The most liberal voting record"?

Jorge Costales said...


Thanks for the pointers on what to be concerned about. But I do believe you may be overestimating the role of concern plays in posts and comments, as opposed to chance and opportunity.

An opportunistic comment re opportunistic Jr. just right for me.