Christopher Buckley
(October 2008)

The son of National Review founder and conservative icon William F. Buckley looked at the options, considered the issues, and decided that his vote for president this time would go to the decidedly un-conservative Democrat, Barack Obama. Writing on a new website competitor of the “Huffington Post,” “The Daily Beast” (launched by the former New Yorker editor Tina Brown), Buckley wrote that he has known John McCain since 1982 and once wrote a speech for him, but that the candidate’s approving "mean-spirited and pointless" attack ads and picking Sarah Palin as his running mate had lost Buckley’s faith and support. Buckley wrote that he had concluded that Obama has a "first-class temperament and a first-class intellect" and could even be a great president.

Even though Buckley wrote his counter-ideology conclusion far from the pages of his father’s magazine, where the son had inherited the last page opinion column originated by Dad, National Review readers erupted in shock and displeasure, flooding the magazine with e-mails and letters labeling Buckley a heretic, a traitor, and worse, a closet liberal. So the magazine fired him.

Christopher Buckley is to be cheered for many reasons, and none of them has anything to do with whether one agrees with his personal opinion on the election or not.

  • He did not let his personal ideology turn into a bias that made a fair assessment of the relative virtues of the candidates impossible. That is called honesty and fairness.
  • He showed himself willing to appreciate the qualities and virtues of a candidate that he disagreed with politically. That is called respect.
  • He did not pretend to hold an opinion that he could no longer justify intellectually, simply because of what others expected of him. That is called integrity, candor and courage.
  • He made every effort to make his declaration of support personal, and to isolate it from the magazine he worked for and that was identified with his name. That is called accountability and loyalty.

And for demonstrating intellectual honesty and independence, and proving that his opinions were genuine ones and not dictated by some grand Right Wing playbook, Buckley was deemed unworthy of writing for the National Review.

That is called stupid.

But the Ethics Scoreboard calls Christopher Buckley an Ethics Hero.

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