In a new post on The Daily Beast, Christopher Buckley (son of conservative hero William F.) describes the drubbing he's taken from National Review readers since he published an endorsement of Barack Obama on The Beast last week. Buckley had been writing the back-page column in the National Review but chose to publish his endorsement elsewhere after observing the abuse ("12,000 livid emails") directed at Kathleen Parker after her NRO column criticizing Sarah Palin. But he writes that the change in venue didn't soften the conservative outrage:
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.
Buckley and National Review's senior management swiftly decided it would be best to sever his ties with the magazine his father founded. But Buckley insists that it's not his ideology that's changed — it's the conservative movement:
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.
National Review Editor Rich Lowry has a different take on how it all went down, and suggests that Buckley is blowing the dustup out of proportion. He writes:
Over the weekend, Chris wrote us a jaunty e-mail with the subject line "A Sincere Offer," in which he offered to resign his column on NR's back page and said that if we accepted, there "would be no hard feelings, only warmest regards and understanding." We took the offer sincerely. Chris had done us the favor of writing the column beginning seven issues ago on a "trial basis" (his words), while our regular back-page columnist, Mark Steyn, was on hiatus. Now, Mark is back to writing again, and—I'm delighted to say—will be on NR's back-page in the new issue.
Lowry adds that NRO has gotten only 100 or so emails responding to Buckley's Obama endorsement — a "tiny amount" compared to the usual feedback volume.