William F. Buckley

Christopher Buckley: Spare Us the Drama Queen Routine

Posted by E!! on October 15, 2008
2008 Elections, Conservative, Giant Egos / 1 Comment

For more on the Christopher Buckley thing, here’s his latest post, and Rich’s note on The Corner yesterday.  (Don’t miss the part where Buckley changed the header of his post from the patently dishonest “I Was Fired” to the fully accurate ”Buckley Bows Out”)

Here’s my three cents:

(1)  Those who cancelled their subscription to National Review over this matter are being silly. The magazine’s value is not negated by what any one contributor (or ex-contributor) does or says on any one day. NR is more than a great conservative political journal; it his an American Icon. You’d no more stop reading it than you’d swear off apple pie and ice cream.

(2)  It appears that Christopher Buckley is exaggerating all over himself in an effort to create a stir and invite publicity as he breaks away into his brave new world.

What does Christopher mean by saying that Rich Lowry “rather briskly” accepted his resignation and that he is saddened by the “disavowal”?

Does he mean there was not a satisfactorily lengthy pause preceding Rich’s agreement to his departure?  Was Christopher’s ego disappointed at not receiving the expected number of murmured regrets and “it’s a damn shame”s?

Or did he think, as I suspect, that his resignation would not be accepted?  Was the act more a gesture than a genuine offer, and is he now in a snit because Rich and Jack Fowler had the ill manners to take him at his word?

Regardless, to say there was/is “acrimony” on the part of NR is surely going too far. I’ve seen nothing but friendship and warmth extended Buckley’s way from everyone at NR and on The Corner, so the insinuation that there is an air of rancor and animosity feels like Complete and Utter Nonsense.

(3)  There is much more that could be said in re: to Christopher’s comments about WFB’s occasional support of liberal Democrats (all far better men than Obama appears to be), rigorous standards of candor (which Junior seems to be lacking), and independence of thought and action (which were genuine and never for show).

But, it is all well known. WFB was a singular man. He was always himself, and never embarrassed or dishonored his friends (or even his enemies) by being small of heart or deed.

The son does not honor the father with all this elaborate and unpleasant flailing around.  A graceful exit would have been a more fitting tribute to the man we all loved…and miss terribly in these difficult days.


(UPDATE: Anne of Idaho, who is reading D.H. Lawrence, sends an unrelated yet serendipitous quote.

“And he began to feel, coldly and cynically, that among all her distress there was a luxuriating in the violent emotions of the scene in hand, and the situation altogether.”

Re-stated: Christopher Buckley is being a drama queen, and it is causing me to feel more indifferent to his plight than I otherwise might.)


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Distraught, E!! Writes to Editor of National Review

Posted by E!! on October 13, 2008
2008 Elections, Conservative, Uncategorized / 4 Comments

Written Friday night, soon after scanning the latest polls and reading that Chris Buckley is casting a vote for Obama:

Rich ~ I ask your indulgence with this entire email.  I know we don’t know one another and that a handful of emails from me to you over the years, and you occasionally responding “thanks,” don’t really justify what is to follow.

But, you are the editor of National Review, and tonight I am a distraught conservative, so here it is:

I got tears in my eyes reading Chris Buckley’s whole post.

Chris seems cheerful enough about all this, so it’s not for him I cry. His dear father is no doubt quite content (and causing some kind of harmless mischief) in the great Hereafter, so no need for tears there.

I feel a sense of grief and loss; what is it…?

Chris Buckley is wrong; of that I am sure; but still it feels sad.

It seems to me that the splintering of the conservative movement, and its mixed political fortunes, and a sort of crisis of identity, have led us here. Fractured, floundering, weak, perhaps conservatism no longer knows what It is and so cannot inspire and compel as it once did. (I am so tired of talk of the Big Tent…)

It seems to me attempts at fusionism have (so far) failed: if McCain is the prototype and/or product, surely we must admit that? Chris Buckley admits it, with gusto: he now throws his hat in the ring for the uber-liberal senator from Illinois, saying Obama is preferable to the inauthentic and often unconservative McCain.

Is Obama to be elected and are we conservatives to be banished to the fringe, then, as we once were? For decades the establishment ignored us. Only because of Bill Buckley and then with Reagan did history really take note.

But what principle, what policy, what politician, what philosopher will unite us now?

From 1944 to 1991 we were held together by the glue of anticommunism. Barry Goldwater tried to carry the torch onward; Frank Meyer’s fusionism attempted the same and seems to live on in the postmodern pursuit of authenticity through freedom and virtue.

But. An inclusive doctrine – which conservatism has become – though seemingly practical, can lend itself to problems. Indeed, can anyone deny that we have landed ourselves in quite a spot?

When someone like Chris Buckely throws all hierarchies out the proverbial window and says he is voting for Obama, what then?

Has the postwar conservative intellectual movement lost its way; will it now become unrecognizable?

What has become of American conservatism?


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