William F. Buckley Jr’s Nephew Fires at National Review

December 15, 2011 - 5:11 PM
national review

William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008), the founder of National Review magazine in 1955 and prominent leader of the conservative movement for more than half a century. He retired as editor-in-chief of National Review in 1990. (AP Photo)

Brent Bozell, a nephew of conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr., who founded National Review magazine in 1955, and whose father, Leo Brent Bozell, collaborated with Buckley for many years at NR, today dismissed the magazine as having lost the identity forged for it by its founder.

National Review's endorsement of Romney & Huntsman proves only that this is no longer the magazine of William F. Buckley Jr.  My uncle would be appalled,” said Bozell in postings on Facebook and on Twitter.

In its Dec. 14 “The Editors" page, National Review published an editorial entitled “Winnowing the Field,” which flippantly dismissed many of the strong conservatives running in the race for the GOP presidential nomination and essentially gave its conservative imprimatur--for what it’s worth these days--to Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.

NR kept a few kind words for Rick Santorum but dismissed Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Rick Perry.

“We fear that to nominate former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the frontrunner in the polls, would be to blow this opportunity,” said NR, whose editor, Rich Lowry, took the reins of NR in 1997. (Buckley had resigned as editor-in-chief in 1990 and he died in 2008.)

“We say that mindful of his opponents’ imperfections--and of his own virtues, which have been on display during his amazing comeback,” reads the editorial. “Very few people with a personal history like his--two divorces, two marriages to former mistresses -- have ever tried running for president. Gingrich himself has never run for a statewide office, let alone a national one, and has not run for anything since 1998.”

bozell

L. Brent Bozell III, president of the Media Research Center, and nephew of the late William F. Buckley Jr.

As for Rick Perry, he has “seemed curiously and persistently unable to bring gravity to the national stage,” reads the editorial, and “conservatism should not choose a standard-bearer who would have to spend much of his time untying his own tongue.”

Michele Bachmann has “sincere conviction,” according to NR, but this is hindered by apparently poor “judgment.” And Ron Paul’s “dabbling in vile conspiracy theories about September 11 are a reminder that the excesses of the movement he leads are actually its essence,” says NR.

Concerning Jon Huntsman, NR says he "has a solid record" and "his main weakness is his apparent inability, so far, to forge a connection with conservative voters outside Utah."

Mitt Romney, says NR, "won our endorsement last time, in part because some of the other leading candidates were openly hostile to important elements of conservatism. He is highly intelligent and disciplined, and he takes conservative positions on all the key issues. We still think he would make a fine president, but time and ceaseless effort have not yet overcome conservative voters’ skepticism about the liberal aspects of his record and his managerial disposition."  Santorum's problem, claims NR, is that the former U.S. senator lacks "executive experience."

Brent Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group (and the parent organization of CNSNews.com), and is a long-time conservative activist. He founded the Parent’s Television Council and ForAmerica, and is the author of several books, including Whitewash: What the Media Won’t Tell You About Hillary Clinton But Conservatives Will (with co-author Tim Graham), and Weapons of Mass Distortion: The Coming Meltdown of the Liberal Media.

Bozell’s father, Leo Brent Bozell, married William F. Buckley Jr’s sister, Patricia, in 1949 and they had 10 children. The elder Bozell (1926-1997) was a debating society teammate with Buckley at Yale University, and when National Review started in 1955, Bozell wrote regular pieces on public policy for the magazine. He also ghostwrote the famous and influential book, The Conscience of a Conservative, for Sen. Barry Goldwater.

National Review was long the flagship of the conservative movement throughout the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s. But when William F. Buckley Jr. retired, the magazine slowly lost its intellectual vigor and conservative acumen. Its latest political tack indicates that NR is philosophically lost at sea.