Buckley Resigns From NR

A few days ago I linked to this essay by Christopher Buckley, announcing his intention to vote for Barack Obama.

Buckley seems not to have realized that modern Republicans politics has nothing to do with arguments and ideas. It has to do with extreme stupidity and mindless hate for dissenters. National Review was so inundated with negative responses to Buckley’s column, that he was effectively forced to resign. Buckley explains the situation:

I had gone out of my way in my Beast endorsement to say that I was not doing it in the pages of National Review, where I write the back-page column, because of the experience of my colleague, the lovely Kathleen Parker. Kathleen had written in NRO that she felt Sarah Palin was an embarrassment. (Hardly an alarmist view.) This brought 12,000 livid emails, among them a real charmer suggesting that Kathleen’s mother ought to have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a dumpster. I didn’t want to put NR in an awkward position.

Since my Obama endorsement, Kathleen and I have become BFFs and now trade incoming hate-mails. No one has yet suggested my dear old Mum should have aborted me, but it’s pretty darned angry out there in Right Wing Land. One editor at National Review–a friend of 30 years–emailed me that he thought my opinions “cretinous.” One thoughtful correspondent, who feels that I have “betrayed”–the b-word has been much used in all this–my father and the conservative movement generally, said he plans to devote the rest of his life to getting people to cancel their subscriptions to National Review. But there was one bright spot: To those who wrote me to demand, “Cancel my subscription,” I was able to quote the title of my father’s last book, a delicious compendium of his NR “Notes and Asides”: Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription.

Regular readers of this blog will be unsurprised to learn that I am a subscriber to Free Inquiry magazine. I have had many occasions where I was so angered by some of their columnists (especially Nat Hentoff) that I have resolved to cancel my subscription. But then I calm down, remind myself that not everyone has to agree with me, and decide that my support for the magazine is more important than my momentary anger at a foolish column.

Apparently the right-wingers never get to the calm down stage.

Buckley sums up the situation:

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.

What does the modern conservative movement stand for? No mystery there. It stands for the mindless pursuit of power for its own sake. It stands for a motley collection of anti-science theocrats and greedy, self-interested plutocrats. What did you think? That it had to do with small government at home and realistic foreign policy goals abroad? So naive…

Comments

  1. #1 Badger3k
    October 15, 2008

    Conservatism seems to stand for “everyone for himself, except when it offends me, in which case I have to use the government to prevent it”

  2. #2 Blake Stacey
    October 15, 2008

    This brought 12,000 livid emails, among them a real charmer suggesting that Kathleen’s mother ought to have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a dumpster.

    And the whole “right to life” posture is thusly pissed away.

    Maybe Buckley and Parker should form a hate-mail-swapping club with Richard Dawkins.

  3. #3 Valhar2000
    October 15, 2008

    I’ve said it before, here and in other places. There is no doubt in my mind that the modern conservative movement (as opposed to what convervatism used to be) will destroy itself through its montrously anti-utilitarian tendencies. What scares me about this is the uncertainty of how much of the rest of the world they will drag down with them as they fall.

    Things like what Buckley describes merely go to confirm the former, they they do not asuage my fear about the latter.

    And the whole “right to life” posture is thusly pissed away.

    Well, everybody knows that conservatives of the lunatic persuasion only value value human life while it is unborn; once they’re born, all babies are good for is prayer and growing up to be cannon fodder.

  4. #4 heddle
    October 15, 2008

    NRO has a decidedly less dramatic portrayal of the events. Including the fact that the post was originally and inaccurately entitled: “Sorry, Dad, I Was Fired.”

  5. #5 Patrick Caldon
    October 15, 2008

    Heddle, is the link in your post correct?

  6. #6 heddle
    October 15, 2008

    Patrick,

    It is not, and I worry it will destroy the fabric of spacetime.

    The correct link. (I hope.)

  7. #7 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 15, 2008

    heddle -

    Thanks for the link. Always nice to get the other side. I wonder, though, why Lowry was so quick to accept Buckley’s resignation if the reaction was actually as muted as he describes.

  8. #8 JimCH
    October 15, 2008

    Also, if it’s a matter of what Buckley says vs. what Lowry says then it seems favorable for Buckley’s version. The NR has a circulation of about 155,000 so it’s hard to believe that a dissenting presidential endorsement from the son of the publication’s founder (a contributing writer at said time of dissent) would draw mere double-digit threats for subscription cancellation. Who’s to say, of course, but when I do a gut check this just seems unlikely.
    However, in regards to Jason’s comment, it is Buckley’s testimony that Lowry was quick to accept the resignation.

  9. #9 SLC
    October 15, 2008

    Lets be fair about this. I strongly suspect that if a writer over at the Nation magazine wrote an article endorsing John McCain, he would find himself/herself persona non grata tout suite.

  10. #10 mk
    October 15, 2008

    @SLC…

    Christopher Hitchens, if memory serves, spent years bashing many liberal policies and politicians over at the Nation. He eventually left, very unceremoniously, of his own accord.

    Granted, I don’t believe he endorsed for President a Republican over a Democrat in his time there… but still.

  11. #11 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 15, 2008

    SLC –

    I’m with mk. I don’t think The Nation would have responded that way.

  12. #12 SLC
    October 15, 2008

    Re mk & Jason Rosenhouse

    I suspect that we probably will not have the opportunity to find out as the likelihood of a writer for the Nation endorsing Senator McCain is about the same as the likelihood of Prof. Rosenhouse seeing the back of his own ear.

  13. #13 JimCH
    October 15, 2008

    SLC…
    Just to be clear, was that a statement about the utter lameness of McStain or about a praetorian tone at The Nation?

  14. #14 heddle
    October 15, 2008

    JimCH,

    Do you even stop to think that writing “McStain” places you at the same intellectual level as those who call the Democratic candidate “Osama?”

    You are the company you keep.

  15. #15 SLC
    October 15, 2008

    Re JimCH

    It’s a commentary on the unlikelihood of any writer for the Nation endorsing a conservative candidate, Senator McCain or anybody else.

    Re Heddle

    Hey, I refer to Senator Osama all the time over at Matt Yglesias’ blog, just to rattle the cages of the left wingers over there.

  16. #16 JimCH
    October 15, 2008

    I thought about using “McShame” but it just didn’t have the teeth that I wanted.
    “McStain” insinuates nothing more than my disdain for McCain, “Osama” perpetuates a false association (a lie) whispered about Obama’s background.
    But ok, it’s needlessly offensive in a public forum so your point is taken. I shalln’t do it anymore here.

  17. #17 heddle
    October 15, 2008

    JimCH,

    But ok, it’s needlessly offensive in a public forum so your point is taken. I shalln’t do it anymore here.

    Crap, I feed off being insulted. When someone makes a class move like that, I die a little inside. How dare you!

  18. #18 pough
    October 15, 2008

    Crap, I feed off being insulted. When someone makes a class move like that, I die a little inside

    Dink.