|Do you know what the translation for the term "the base" is in Arabic? It's "al-Qaeda."
And now for the post. Christopher Buckley has resigned from the National Review, and his resignation was accepted in what might be called a "New York minute" (except that the right hates New York, except that they mostly live there ... so, maybe a "Wasila minute???) His crime: he endorsed Barack Obama, and in doing so, enraged the base. ... And so now, the son of NR's founder, the really, very delightful William F. Buckley Jr., is on the outs. He writes at The Daily Beast (Tina Brown's new blog home):
Buckley goes on to say that it's really no biggie, since conservatism doesn't mean much in the wake of eight years of gigantic government, Terri Schiavo intervention and an ill-conceived war in Iraq. Besides, as many conservatives (including George Will, David Brooks, and when he's not being a peevish, duplicitous little prick, even David Frum have admitted, the Republican Party is becoming increasingly a hostile place for intellectuals (except for neocons. They're always welcome.) And so, welcome to the winning team, Chris. We're glad to have you.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, NR's Rich Lowry replies: "Nyeh!"
Labels: 2008 election, al-Qaida, Christopher Buckley, conservatives, National Review, Republicans, the base