Monday, October 20, 2008

Bucking the trend

Christopher Buckley, son of the great conservative thinker and commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. has just endorsed Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for president—a mere eight months after William Buckley's death. He did so in a post on Tina Brown's new website, The Daily Beast. In the ensuing controversy after the endorsement, Christopher's column in the National Review—a conservative magazine his father founded—was cut. The YouTube clip here is from a Hardball interview, which explains what happened in greater detail.

The New York Times has an article talking to the younger Buckley about the whole mess. Christopher seems to express some indecisiveness about how his father (and his mother who also recently passed) would have felt about his actions. But he does say he would have been reluctant to publish his support of Obama had his parents still been alive. Christopher admits, while it has been terribly difficult to lose his parents, it has also been freeing. Here's a quote:

“There is something ironically liberating when the father figure dies,” he said, sitting in his study, surrounded by his books and family mementos, including the manual Royal typewriter on which, he believes, his father wrote the 1951 classic, “God and Man at Yale.”

“You are for the first time, I think, fully your own man,” he added. “It’s also awful. I miss him every day. But I can now write about things I was not terribly comfortable writing about.”

It reminds me of a book I blogged about a few months back, Death Benefits by Jeanne Safer. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it's on my wish list, and I heard the author on the Diane Rehm show. Safer writes about the opportunities for growth that can come out of a parent's death. It's a profoundly intriguing idea. And I can certainly see where, if anyone would have a problem stepping out of their parent's shadow, it would be someone with a strong, successful parent like William Buckley.

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