On Buckley And Obama

There’s a brouhaha over Christopher Buckley leaving National Review after his endorsement of Barack Obama. Buckley, like his father, is a brilliant and witty writer, but it seems hardly surprising that he’s getting such a reaction from conservatives. Buckley’s sin isn’t heresy, it’s shallowness. His endorsement of Obama hardly makes a conservative case for Obama. His critique of McCain is that somehow McCain has become “inauthentic” and his case for Obama is that he has a “world class intellect.”

Plenty of other wrongheaded individuals were brilliantly smart—and even though Sen. Obama is unquestionably smart and capable, he represents the antithesis of everything conservatism stands for. Conservatism is an ideology that desires limited government—Obama supports an even more dramatic expansion of government that what we have seen in the last eight years. Conservatism rejects cults of political personality—and yet Obama is skating by largely on the force of his personalty than the substance of his ideals. Conservatism rejects immenatizing the eschaton—that might as well be Obama’s campaign slogan.

That Mr. Buckley is so haughty in his folly demonstrates that while he has his father’s wit, he appears to have lacked his judgement.

This argument demonstrates exactly why Buckley’s judgement is so mistaken:

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

If Buckley’s judgement is incorrect, and Obama is exactly what every bit of his record suggests—an unrepentant and unabashed leftist—what would the result be for the country?

Conservatives made the mistake of putting their trust in a politician rather than in their ideas over the past eight years. Making the same mistake again won’t be any better for the country.

Buckley ends his piece with “As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.” God save us from such poor logic.

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