Noted Bush-supporting former Trotskyite Christopher Hitchens has endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president! In Slate today, the beloved British alcoholic raves about how Obama isn't a sad old man, like McCain, or an offensive joke, like Sarah Palin. Hitch, like a Nader voter, declares that there are no substantial differences between the candidates, but McCain's temperament is too unstable, and Obama's is much more reassuring. This is basically the argument of a number of noted conservative intellectuals who have, in recent weeks, either endorsed Obama, resigned themselves to an Obama presidency, or simply unendorsed McCain. As the intellectual conservatives abandoned Bush, now they find themselves abandoning the GOP.
Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan was once a very prominent, very influential conservative. As recently as last year, even as he largely abandoned Bush, he was still complimenting McCain. Now, not so much.
Times columnist David Brooks scarcely deserves to be called an intellectual, but as we're using that term strictly to mean "East Coast elitists who write about politics professionally" he'll have to do. This "I'm disappointed in McCain but he'll be a good president" column was but a prelude to Brooks' statement during an interview that Obama was a perceptive intellectual surrounded by impressive people and Sarah Palin is a cancer.
Christopher Buckley was hardly a doctrinaire conservative. As a satirical novelist and a smart-ass, one imagines he's not too pleased with the rise of creationist rubes in his beloved GOP (his dad made that fucking bed, obvs, but that's neither here nor there). And Chris claims he wrote in George H.W. Bush in 2004 rather than vote for the son. But that's far different from explicitly endorsing a Democrat, as he did last week. Once again: Obama's temperament and obvious intelligence sealed the deal.
Charles Krauthammer is basically a reliable party hack, always willing to subvert his own intelligence for the good of the party. But the once-influential psychiatrist can't help but see that his movement is not served by the buffoonery of the McCain campaign. He wrote this mild quasi-endorsement of Obama this month:
Obama has shown that he is a man of limited experience, questionable convictions, deeply troubling associations (Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Tony Rezko) and an alarming lack of self-definition — do you really know who he is and what he believes? Nonetheless, he's got both a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament. That will likely be enough to make him president.
And, also at The Atlantic, Ross Douthat, who wrote a book about how Republicans can save themselves, finds himself bewildered by McCain's campaign and unimpressed with the Ayers bullshit and Sarah Palin.
So. Is all that a trend? In the way that the closing of the New York Sun was indicative of the slow death of a movement if not necessarily caused by that death, we think we're seeing the further erosion of the always uneasy GOP pact between libertarian true believers, Christan fundamentalist true believers, nationalists, "just keep my taxes low" rich assholes, and the crowd that just likes to hitch their wagons to winners. A reorganization is on the way. Then most of these listed commentators will probably hop back on the bandwagon.
Also this is how we were originally planning on reporting the Hitch endorsement: