Politics

Buckley brother blasts National Review in forthcoming book

Jonathan Strong Contributor

The name Buckley is revered in the conservative world and especially in the universe of correspondents and employees of National Review, the flagship conservative magazine founded by the late William F. Buckley, Jr. 55 years ago. WFB, as he was often referred to in print, is considered by many the founder of the modern conservative movement.

But one of Buckley’s brothers, Reid, is blasting National Review and the conservative movement as a whole in a forthcoming book.

In an interview, Reid Buckley said conservative journalists in Washington, D.C. “are political junkies. They are beltway snobs. In other words, they object to Sarah Palin because she says ‘you betcha.’ Or ‘dad gum.’ They have no real reason to despise her, but it is a question of snobbishness.”

Buckley is self-publishing his book, “The Idiocy of Assent”, because, he says, the content of the book is too inflammatory for conservative imprints.

“I’ll tell you why – because no conservative publisher or editorial group or publishing house that will take it. They won’t look at it! They won’t read it!” Buckley said.

Reid Buckley’s views may not be representative of the rest of his family’s, however.

Linda Bridges, who joined National Review’s staff in 1971 and still works part-time for the magazine, said other siblings of the magazine’s founder had expressed their praise of editor Rich Lowry, who’s been at the helm since 1997.

Regarding former New York Senator Jim Buckley and former National Review managing editor Priscilla Buckley, both siblings of William F. Buckley, Jr., Bridges said, “I’ve heard from both of them within the past month about how pleased they are with the magazine.”

Still, Reid Buckley’s criticisms are sure to sting Lowry and the rest of the National Review masthead, which has appeared thin-skinned to criticism recently as conservatives voiced their irritation with a recent editorial stand.

Buckley’s criticism of conservatives and his late brother’s magazine appear rooted in an old-fashioned agrarian conservatism that values tradition as much as commonly held conservative precepts like the free market and individual rights.

Buckley decried “suburban proliferation. The sprawl. I’m talking about setting up a Wal-Mart, and to hell with the countryside. And to hell with the sociological despoilment of Wal-Mart, where local shops close. In this little town of Camden, South Carolina we’ve had 15 shops close in the last couple of years. Some of them were over 100 years old.”

Buckley said conservatives are vastly underestimating the seriousness of the changes that have uprooted old social orders.

“The problem here is not simply a decadence in our political thought. There is a decadence in the morals of our people. And unless that social lesion is repaired, we’re not going to have the kind of republic – the small government republic that we all had hoped would be the destiny of the United States,” Buckley said.

“My fear is that young people have no idea what we’re talking about,” Buckley said.

NEXT: Where does Buckley’s frustration with conservatives come from?

Buckley’s frustration with conservatives stems in part from the fact that he has been trying to get them to reform for a while. He said that for the last five or six years he’s been promoting his criticisms at a conservative conference on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

The conference, called “The Awakening,” is a somewhat secretive gathering of conservative lawmakers and top donors. A 2010 agenda for the conference listed a presentation by Buckley and former National Review contributor David Frum titled, “Future Of Conservatism In Our Country: Big Tent or Pup Tent.”

Though Buckley’s criticisms were directed at the conservative movement as a whole, he did not spare his brother’s magazine from his harsh broadside.

“I include in this National Review, the Weekly Standard and the American Spectator. And what I’m saying is, they are fuddy duddies. They are political junkies. They are beltway snobs and they’re not paying attention to that vast land between, say, the Ohio River and California. And so they are out of step, they’re out of tune,” Buckley said.