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October 21st, 2008
08:01 PM ET

The Right’s class war

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/21/class.war.jpg
caption="Supporters at Sarah Palin's 'Road to Victory Rally' in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on Saturday." width=292 height=320]
John Heilemann
New York Magazine

For a man who has just been, in his eyes, excommunicated from both a magazine and a movement founded by his father half a century ago, Chris Buckley, son of the sainted William F., is doing a creditable job of keeping his upper lip stiff. “I’m still sort of getting my apostate act down,” Buckley says with a chuckle when I phone him a few days after the unpleasantness unfolded. “I’m reading Apostasy for Dummies.” The apostasy in question is, of course, his endorsement of Barack Obama, which provoked such a torrent of outrage and abuse from the right that Buckley felt it only proper to offer to quit his column at National Review—an offer that was taken up, to his great surprise, “rather briskly,” as he puts it. “I guess it shows, be careful to whom you tender your resignation, because they just might accept it!”

Buckley’s good humor does nothing to conceal his melancholy and bewilderment at this turn of events. “I was really quite amazed by the reaction, and I think it shows just how bloody calcified the political discourse has become, and tribalist, and snarling,” he tells me. “I want to say that it’s a tempest in a teapot, but there seems to be something going on here, and maybe this has accidentally tapped into it.”

If the Buckley affair were an isolated incident, such talk would be easy to dismiss as self-flattery—but it isn’t. With the prospect of defeat for John McCain growing more likely every day, the GOP destined to see its numbers reduced in both the House and Senate, and the Republican brand debased to the point of bankruptcy, the conservative intelligentsia is factionalized and feuding, criminating and recriminating, in a way that few of its members can recall in their political lifetimes. Populists attack Establishmentarians. Neocons assail theocons. And virtually everyone has something harsh to say about the party’s standard-bearer. Election Day may still be two weeks away, but already the idea-merchants of the right have formed a circular firing squad.

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Filed under: Christopher Buckley • Raw Politics
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Debbie

    You guys are missing the real story here... You should be asking if George Washington qualified to be president. – And – did Abraham Lincoln have great credentials? What about the cherry tree incident? I haven't seen anything on CNN about that. Obama isn't running against Palin or Bush, he is running against Mccain.

    October 21, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  2. E Harris

    I am really ready for someone, anyone to acknowledge we ALL are Americans and in this country together with some real BIG ISSUES. I am finding it harder and harder to define what that means or what it looks like. We shout diversity, our constitution guarantees the protection of our rights, yet if you are female, Black, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Pentacostal, rich, poor, middle class, gay, straight, pro choice, pro life, liberal, conservative, dem, republican, independent, right, left, blue, red THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU AND YOUR IDEAS. What's left ... APATHY.

    October 21, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  3. Kent, Illinois

    It says alot when Republicans break away and endorse Obama. That says alot about the individuals. And thats a good thing. The GOP is changing. In 4 to 8 yrs we really may see something entirely different emerge. Or..........a third Party will emerge. Hmmmmmmm

    October 21, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  4. Steve - Philadelphia, PA

    I am 63 and make around $35,000 a year. It will take me almost 30 years more of work to earn $1,000,000! I would pay about $600 less a year in income taxes under Obama' s Tax Plan. Under McCain's Plan a person making $1,000,000 a year would pay about $45,000 less in taxes a year - that's $10,000 a year more then I earn for working 40 hours a week all year long. In the Saddleback Compassion Forum McCain said that he would consider someone making $5,000,000 a year rich. In that case it would take me 150 years to earn as much as McCain's Rich Person makes in one year. That's even longer then McCain has lived. Yet McCain says he's for the Middle Class. Come on now!!!

    October 21, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  5. Janet russian

    It's so sad when people think you're arab if your middle name is Hussein...and you're terrorist if you're arab...and so on....
    Leave Joe the plumber to work hard as he used to and do not distract him. Listen Powell's speech, intelligent and confident opinion without winks, anger and betcha....Don't you want your kids to be intelligent and smart, people?
    We are in crisis, and blaming each other won't change anything...If lenders offer you a big house and your income is 28,000 dollars or you have a lot bills, just don't buy, its just simple. You have to be smart and educated enough to calculate simple life things, no matter what they offer you. It's you and it's only your decision

    October 21, 2008 at 9:24 pm |
  6. Marylou

    I love to read Chris Buckley...he is too cool. I never know what Bay Buchanan is saying..I watch her with the volume off..same for Palin. I have waited my entire adult life (I am 59) to see a WOMAN in the White House. NOT THAT WOMAN. I am voting for Obama

    October 21, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  7. trapper

    why has not one reporter asked Mccain about his wifes addition to presciption drugs and would he govern the country the same way he handled that situation.Will that demon rear its ugly head again when a criss comes.Governer Palin better husban should be called into question about his tighs to sepretest groups I think Mccain must have promised Governer Palain Alaska .Alaska belongs to the people not the Governer

    October 21, 2008 at 9:06 pm |
  8. Richard Walker

    I'm waiting for "Plumber's Cracks for Palin", LOL.

    October 21, 2008 at 8:55 pm |
  9. paul

    somebody please say tell the people that saharh palin is more quilified to be vice presedent then ombam has tp be presedent

    October 21, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  10. Annie Kate

    In an election that should have been so overwhelmingly slanted towards the Democrats because of the presidency of GW Bush, McCain has more than held his own throughout most of the campaign. The GOP right should be amazed that they had even a small chance much less a viable chance at the presidency this year. I hope that if they are defeated that they won't try to rake up stuff on the new President and keep the bones of contention going throughout his term. That sort of behavior only makes them look worse.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    October 21, 2008 at 8:26 pm |
  11. Ren

    McCain if you read this statement. Stop using Sarah Palin to do your dirty work if you can’t be honest with her at least explain the definition of voting fraud and the meaning of palling around, also please have her stop winking this is not a Vegas act. Running this country is serious business and you and Sarah sure do scare me.
    Obama if you read this, continue to take the high road. Most American are not stupid even though some of them don’t have the strength to admit it in public they will do the right thing in the voting booth.

    October 21, 2008 at 8:26 pm |
  12. Brandi Baker

    Isn't this kind of defection from well-respected conservatives proof that every time Bay Buchanan says that Sarah Palin has united the Republic party, she's either blind or insane? Every time she says it I want to throw something at the television. Sarah Palin has united a crazed group of reactionary, sound-bite loving, frightened and spiteful people – and then encouraged them to go further. As their leader – and she is clearly the leader they have chosen, not McCain – she has an enormous opportunity to lift these frightened people up and bring them together with the rest of their fellow citizens and the fact that she doesn't even try is proof that she is not fit to lead.

    October 21, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  13. Franky, Chicago IL

    it ain't tough for me, I say like it is. For crying out loud, I live in Chicago for good sake. Republicans back in the day here were worse...well, at least here in Illinois. Yep, seems like our Gov(Blagojevich) is the only bastard to get out...by the way, noticed he's also a Dem as well? Hmmmm, it looks like the desease is spreading...

    The only time I want someone to lose is when the Cubs don't win the World Series. As a matter of fact, I couldn't be happier! Is like were working at the same time...

    October 21, 2008 at 8:12 pm |
  14. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Want to know the difference between Conservatives and Liberals?
    Conservatives don't want taxation, but want all the services.
    Liberals want all the services, but don't want taxation.
    It's TRUE!

    October 21, 2008 at 8:11 pm |