Former publisher of the (conservative) National Review Wick Allison endorses Barack Obama. He starts off with his definition of ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal':
Conservatism to me is less a political philosophy than a stance, a recognition of the fallibility of man and of manâ€™s institutions. Conservatives respect the past not for its antiquity but because it represents, as G.K. Chesterton said, the democracy of the dead; it gives the benefit of the doubt to customs and laws tried and tested in the crucible of time. Conservatives are skeptical of abstract theories and utopian schemes, doubtful that government is wiser than its citizens, and always ready to test any political program against actual results.
Liberalism always seemed to me to be a system of â€œoughts.â€ We ought to do this or that because itâ€™s the right thing to do, regardless of whether it works or not. It is a doctrine based on intentions, not results, on feeling good rather than doing good.
Allison follows this with evidence that Bush and McCain do not fulfill this definition of conservatism:
But today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly donâ€™t work.
Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world â€œsafe for democracy.â€ It is John McCain who says Americaâ€™s job is to â€œdefeat evil,â€ a theological expansion of the nationâ€™s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.
This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.
Finally, and most importantly, Allison explains how Obama exemplifies his conservative values (emphasis added):
Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. . . But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those donâ€™t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obamaâ€™s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.
Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.
[A]s a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe [conservatism] is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.
This is a view of conservatism that even this dyed-in-the-wool liberal can appreciate.
(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)