Posted on October 28, 2008


Sorry, Chris,

You're Being Insipid


Daniel Clark


If you're shocked that Christopher Buckley has endorsed Barack Obama, you obviously haven't been reading his column in the National Review. It's not that he's been expressing liberal opinions in his late father's publication. Rather, his articles, while amusing, tend to be so devoid of substance that you'd expect them to have appeared in the mercifully defunct George magazine, perhaps on the opposite page from a story about what Carrot Top would do if he were president.

Buckleys for Marxism

Buckley made the endorsement in an article called "Sorry, Dad, I'm Voting for Obama," which he did not bother submitting to NR, for obvious reasons. Shortly thereafter, he offered his resignation to NR, which accepted it, leading to another piece misleadingly titled "Sorry, Dad, I was Sacked."

He whines that John McCain's "once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly." At this point, it becomes tempting to believe the piece is satiric, because there's no way he can possibly believe what he's writing. McCain is among the all-time leading snarlers in Washington. If anything, his relative lack of snarl during the campaign has been a source of repeated frustration for his supporters.

Buckley says the one with a "first class temperament" is now Obama -- a conclusion that can only be derived from his outward presentation, because his words and actions certainly don't bear it out. This is the candidate, remember, who warned liberal columnist Maureen Dowd, "I'm putting you on notice," just for mentioning the size of his ears. He threatens TV stations with nuisance lawsuits for running National Rifle Association ads against him, and deploys Stalinesque "truth squads," comprised of sympathetic law enforcement personnel, to intimidate his detractors with thinly veiled threats of imprisonment. One would hope that Buckley -- whose fellow NR contributor Mark Steyn recently had to defend himself before a Canadian thought crimes tribunal -- would be a little more sensitive to such matters.

Obliviously, he assumes that Obama will "surely understand that traditional left-politics aren't going to get us out of the pit we've dug for ourselves." In reality, the Illinois senator's "spread the wealth" income redistribution plan couldn't be more traditionally leftist if he broke into a chorus of Huey Long's "Every Man a King" jingle during his stump speeches. "Traditional left-politics" are destructive under any circumstances. Why assume that Obama will start understanding that now?

Though undisturbed by Obama's many disqualifying factors, Buckley expresses "embarrassment" over Sarah Palin, about whose selection as McCain's running mate he writes, "not to belabor the point," but, "What on earth can he have been thinking?" By "belabor," he must mean "explain," because he, like Palin's other pseudo-conservative critics, feels no need to substantiate his objection. If you don't already know what's wrong with Gov. Palin, you're just not among the people who matter.

spreading the Huey

At one point, Buckley lets slip what his real reason may be, when he writes, "On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I'm libertarian." Since none of the candidates supports gay marriage, and Buckley doesn't bother introducing us to al, abortion is left as the only understandable motivation for his endorsement. Even here, he refuses to spell it out, though, but instead passively attributes his own opinion to a broader philosophy. It's as if any forthright discussion of a serious issue would undermine his position's requisite superficiality.

To effete, socially liberal Republicans, being pro-life is as much as anything a breach of etiquette. They react to Palin's presence in their party the same way as if they were having dinner with Tony Montana, when he started eating the lemon out of the finger bowl. Buckley does not, therefore, directly take issue with Palin, but instead snootily dismisses her.

Buckley complains that McCain "makes unrealistic promises" about balancing the budget within four years. By contrast, Obama's promise to give "refundable tax credits" to millions of people who pay no income taxes, and to pay for them by "closing corporate loopholes" must strike him as a sober assessment. Ditto that for his plan to make America "more respected" by surrendering to an enemy that's already been decimated. Then, of course, there's his claim that his nomination was "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." With Barack, all things are possible.

If Christopher Buckley wants to apologize to his father, it should be for what he's done to the English language. He's wasted a whole quiver of high-value Scrabble words just to parrot the mindless mantra, "Hope Change Yes We Can."

-- Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.



Return to Shinbone

 The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press 

 Mailbag . Issue Index . Politimals