BUCKLEY JOINS THE OBAMACANS…. I’ve never been entirely clear on whether we’re supposed to call them “Obamacans” or “Obamacons,” but either way, there’s a group of relatively high profile Republicans and conservatives who, for a variety of reasons, are supporting Barack Obama. There are some fairly big names on the list — former Rep. Jim Leach, current Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, former Sen. Lincoln Chafee — but an unexpected name joined the ranks today.

Author Christopher Buckley, the son of William F. Buckley, offered a hearty endorsement of the Democratic candidate today. Given that Christopher Buckley remains a columnist for the National Review, this was not at all expected.

What’s more, Buckley has known McCain personally for more than a quarter century, has defended him, and has even worked for him. But he’s seen enough to know that Candidate McCain hasn’t earned his support.

[McCain] said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?

What’s more, Buckley seems to think highly of Obama, too, lauding this “first-class temperament” and a “first-class intellect.”

Obama has in him — I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric — the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

I shudder to think how many emails he’ll receive from National Review readers.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.