Left Behind

Another prominent conservative sees the light. Christopher Buckley endorsed Obama last week and endured the inevitable firestorm.

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.

Like many, Buckley now wonders how the very pinnacle of conservative power turned out to be so un-conservative.

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.

If I were a prominent conservative, I’d be wondering how to start over; who to allow into the tent; how to prevent the same thing from happening again.

All great Utopian movements seem to describe an arc in which a noble, hopeful dream soars up into glory until, corrupted by power, they descend into ashes and mud. Maybe their flight would sustain longer if their aims were more conservative?

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Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

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