David Kirkpatrick

October 14, 2008

Buckleyism, RIP

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:08 pm

First one of the lions of modern conservative though, and founder of the National Review, Bill Buckley passed on this February.

Now the very magazine founded by Bill Buckley has unceremoniously booted his son, Chris, for openly endorsing Obama. One of the strongest suits of Bill Buckley’s brand of conservatism was openness to ideas and iconoclastic thought.

The very magazine he founded is becoming filled with intellectual weakness and toadyism. The very vestiges of a dying philosophy.

Who’s next? David Frum?

From the second link:

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.

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. 

Thanks, anyway, for the memories, and here’s to happier days and with any luck, a bit less fresh hell.

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