The son of the late conservative thinker William F. Buckley is endorsing Barack Obama, though he still considers himself a conservative.
In an article entitled, “Sorry Dad, I’m Voting for Obama,” on The Daily Beast, Christopher Buckley writes that Republican John McCain has betrayed his principals. McCain has changed positions on important issues, made promises he cannot keep, endorsed unworkable policies, and selected the inexperienced Sarah Palin as his running mate, Buckley writes.
The Arizona senator has lost his bearings, according to Buckley, while Obama has found his. Obama has demonstrated in the campaign that he has a “first-class temperament.”
“I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate,” writes Buckley, a novelist and columnist for National Review, the conservative magazine his father founded. “He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine.
“He is also a lefty. I am not,’’ concedes Buckley. “I am a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets. On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I’m libertarian.
“But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect… Obama has in him, I think — despite his sometimes airy-fairy ‘We are the people we have been waiting for’ silly rhetoric — the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.”
What the moment is not calling for, according to Buckley, is the Alaska governor McCain has chosen as his replacement if he is incapacitated or dies in office. Buckley joins other conservatives — columnists Kathleen Parker and David Brooks — in harshly criticizing Palin over the last week. Brooks, a conservative columnist for The New York Times who was hired for his first job by Buckley’s father at the National Review, has called Palin “a cancer on the Republican Party.”
Buckley points out that he has written admirably about McCain and has known him since 1982. He has long thought that McCain would be great president. He also points out that McCain bravely supported the surge of U.S. troops in Iraq when Obama and other feckless politicians were “caterwauling.”
“But that was — sigh — then. John McCain has changed,” Buckley writes. “This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget ‘by the end of my first term.’ Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?”
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