Conservative, not!

When I read last week that Christopher Buckley had decided to support Barack Obama, my reaction was a relatively minor shrug. Not even worth a passing mention here, much less a blog post.

I realize the man is the son of William F. Buckley, the late, great, titan of conservatism, but so what? It isn't as if politics is genetically inherited. (Something conservatives should have learned long ago when the "Son of Reagan" disappointed them in that regard.) Besides, the son of Buckley is more writer than conservative ideologue, and from what I've read, he's enchanted with Barack Obama's writing. (Whether "writing" should be placed in quotes I'll leave to the literary investigators.)

Besides, not only do I like Buckley from his writing, but I have a lot of friends who are voting for Obama. If I'm not worked up about them, why would I get my knickers in a twist over the son of a famous conservative ideologue? It doesn't make sense. I don't feel personally betrayed in the least.

The bottom line is that this is a country which operates under a two party system, and the Republicans have been failing for so long, and so badly, that any Democrat on the ticket would be favored to win. If Hillary had been the candidate, I could easily imagine an unshakeable 15 point lead, and possibly a huge national landslide in her favor. The reason it's close is because many people are uneasy about Obama. I'm so uneasy about him that I like to think that any sane person who opposes socialism would oppose Obama automatically, as do I, and as does Roger Kimball. But the fact that an occasional conservative might find Obama attractive should surprise no one, and I don't think it's the biggest deal in the world.

Besides, it's still one man one vote. As I see it, my vote cancels out Chris Buckley's. So does Roger Kimball's, and Victor Davis Hanson's, and Andrew McCarthy's. All of these people are more conservative than I am. What I share in common them right now that's of any importance is that I oppose Barack Obama.

That's the thing here. I'm not even a conservative. I'm just opposed to socialism, and I think Obama is the closest thing we've had to a socialist on a major ticket in the history of this country. (To the extent that there should be a "big tent" right now, it is not conservative, nor Republican, so much as it is anti-Obama.)

What is conservatism? Does anyone know? I've been unable to define it for a long time, so I look to individuals who are called conservatives as reference points. If Andrew Sullivan is a "conservative," I know I'm not. If Michael Savage is a conservative, I know I'm not. If Ann Coulter is a conservative, I know I'm not. If Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh are conservatives, I know I'm not. If Pat Buchanan is a conservative, I know I'm not. If Mike Huckabee is a conservative, I know I'm not. If CPAC is conservative, I know I'm not. If WorldNetDaily is conservative, I know I'm not. If the "Drug War" is conservative, I know I'm not.

Geez, this is getting tedious. How many reasons do I need not to be a conservative? With all respect to the many on that long list who would call me a relativist, I think what we call "conservatism" is all relative.

Anyway, so now I have one more to add to my list of what I know I'm not.

Whether Chris Buckley is in good company, who knows.

I still like him. It's not as if we're going to start a civil war over this stuff.

MORE: Sissy Willis quotes from a comment left by Vanderleun at Roger Kimball's PJM post:

"Friends such as Roger will criticize him 'more in sorrow than in anger,' but he will still be welcome at dinner parties and other festivities. He will still be welcome in most meaningful conservative circles. He will not be thrust out into the howling winds as he would be if he had been long on the left and declared for McCain."
To which Sissy responded:
"I don't know nothin' 'bout 'meaningful conservative circles,' but I, for one, won't be soon forgiving or forgetting the cravenness of young Buck and his fellow 'Northeast Corridor Conservatives.'
I agree that young Buckley will always be welcome at conservative parties. Perhaps this is not a bad thing, as it demonstrates that the right wing is a lot more tolerant and even forgiving than is commonly believed. I've attended a number of conservative events, and I've noticed that even bona fide flaming liberals are welcome. (Assuming they've gone there to be polite and not to engage in Code Pink-style disruptions.) Not that most liberals would ever attend such events, but conservatives are remarkably tolerant in that regard.

As to the Northwest Corridor Conservatives, Sissy's point is well taken.

(See "Oh my God! A real Joe Sixpack in our midst!.")

posted by Eric on 10.13.08 at 10:19 AM










Comments

It's brutal.

There is an impulse in the political class to walk into the private sphere and touch everything.

They're welcome to come in and look, but I'd ask them to keep their hands in their pockets. There's a television show I like, it's called "Monk". One of the funny quirks of the shows main character is the impulse to touch. It's funny, because I believe we all have the impulse to touch...it's just that we're able to control the impulse.

From the Left I expect this touching. The urge to do something positive. Even when the situation calls for a hands-off approach that will allow the situation to solve itself. But when it happens on the Right, I just shake my head.

What is up with McCain's proposal to bail-out low value mortgages for people who shouldn't have them in the first place? This isn't compassionate conservatism. It's government intrusion into markets where intrusion is neither warrented nor required. (It may be "called" for, but there should also be an impulse to put your hands in your pockets...keep them to yourself.)

And what do we do when our "Republican" senators are the greatest advocates of intervening in the private sphere?

Brutal.
.

OregonGuy   ·  October 13, 2008 11:29 AM

Eric, I consider myself conservative, in fact I'm a conservative Catholic, but I have a strong libertarian bent (I would suspect that you share many libertarian views). I agree with you that Obama is a socialist and, I think, a threat to the well being of this nation. I know from reading your blog that you are a strong supporter of gun rights (as I am) & Obama would, I'm sure, threaten those.

Joe Lammers   ·  October 13, 2008 12:30 PM

What you said Eric, and OregonGuy. A good friend thinks I am libertarian because I am kind of the not interfering type. I think that BO is a socialist and would be a "thug" in many many ways. People on the left express "fear" of Bush. Just wait until BO gets in.

LYNNDH   ·  October 13, 2008 12:37 PM

When Obamanation declares his dad's NATIONAL REVIEW a magazine of "hate speech" (for criticizing Obama) and therefore not protected under the First Amendment, Buckley the Younger may have a different turn of mind.

Bilwick1   ·  October 13, 2008 3:47 PM

Bilwick1

I will bet you $100 that Obama, should he be elected President, does not declare any magazine to be "hate speech" and beyond First Amendment protection.

Care to wager?

Dr. Nobel Dynamite   ·  October 13, 2008 5:13 PM

I agree that liberal/conservative has become a poor way to describe the differences between the two political sides. Seems to me that statist/nonstatist covers it better.

notaclue   ·  October 13, 2008 7:06 PM

Buckley the Younger may have a different turn of mind.

Not a chance. Obama won't be so foolish as to act so overtly, no these right wing media outlets will simply learn that there is a better was if they want to stay in business. Being good corporations they will go along to get along. It will be almost behind the scenes and will go entirely unreported and all but unnoticed.

Buckley will continue to enjoy all the perks of his urbane existence, and that's o.k. with him because that's what's really important to him. He came to that realization first, then chose to lend his support to Obama second.

ThomasD   ·  October 13, 2008 11:42 PM

As Vanderleun said in Roger Kimball's comments at PJM:

"Friends such as Roger will criticize him 'more in sorrow than in anger,' but he will still be welcome at dinner parties and other festivities. He will still be welcome in most meaningful conservative circles. He will not be thrust out into the howling winds as he would be if he had been long on the left and declared for McCain."

And as I commented in response to Vanderleun's comments:

"I don’t know nothin’ ’bout 'meaningful conservative circles,' but I, for one, won’t be soon forgiving or forgetting the cravenness of young Buck and his fellow 'Northeast Corridor Conservatives.'”

Sissy Willis   ·  October 14, 2008 6:47 AM

Bilwick1, I think Obama's strong suit to conservatives over time will be his defense of free speech. I can't think of many other positives, but that is one. I have two related worries. First, that he will find exceptions to free speech when it is himself criticised (see Missouri), and second, that enough other progressives are in favor of restricting free speech (see Fairness Doctrine). But Obama is okay on idea-expression - none of this Al Gore-ish advocating that dissenters be suppressed.

As to Buckley, he founds his Obama endorsement on the idea that Barack a "first-class intellect and writer." The evidence for both of these is slender, and I believe Buckley is responding to cultural, Ivy-League cues rather than substance.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  October 14, 2008 10:07 AM

Dr. Nobel apparently doesn't recognize satire when he sees it.

(At least I hope it turns out to be satire. Obamanation hasn't been showing itself too big on the free-speech thing. Ask the NRA.)

Christopher Buckley may be an "Uncle Dave." That's my nickname for what used to be called "responsible conservatives." These were "house" conservatives who showed proper respect and deference to "Massa," and would never seriously threaten the Liberal Plantation. I used to think of them as "Uncle Clints," after Clinton Rossiter, who was the big "responsible" conservative when I was younger, but now, after David Brooks, I'm thinking maybe "Uncle Dave" might be appropriate. Certainly more current.

Bilwick   ·  October 14, 2008 1:20 PM

Bilwick

I certainly recognize fear mongering when I see it.

Dr. Nobel Dynamite   ·  October 14, 2008 1:35 PM

Assuming I am "fear-mongering," Dr. Nobel . . . why not monger fear when it comes to statists? If someone with Obama's philsophical background (I mean the real one, not his current faux-centrist persona) gets his hands on the reins of power, what wouuld stop him from violating my freedom of speech? He seems more than willing to violate all my other rights. And in light of reports of the activities of what Michael Barone calls Obamanation's "thugocracy," one might very well monger some fear. Some people I'll give tyhe benefit of the doubt to, but not a Staat-shtupper with an Alinsky past.

Bilwick   ·  October 14, 2008 4:41 PM

If someone with Obama's philsophical background (I mean the real one, not his current faux-centrist persona) gets his hands on the reins of power, what wouuld stop him from violating my freedom of speech?


I don't know, the Constitution? Checks and balances? Popular opinion? This is a rather silly question, so I don't know what you want to hear. I'm not even sure of what crypto-philosophy you're attributing to Obama, so perhaps you could explain.


You might as well ask: If someone with McCain's philsophical background gets his hands on the reins of power, what would stop him from invading Vietnam? It's just as meaningful.


He seems more than willing to violate all my other rights.


Such as?

Dr. Nobel Dynamite   ·  October 14, 2008 5:25 PM

Damn my ham-fisted HTML tags. Apologies to all.

Dr. Nobel Dynamite   ·  October 14, 2008 5:33 PM

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