"Writing is a skill, not a talent, and thus one's ability as a writer can be improved by thoughtful effort. The problem with some people is that they graduate college as good writers, experience early success on account of that, and thus never devote themselves diligently to the relentless quest for improvement that could make them great writers."
Red Eye's Andy Levy on David Frum: I'd seen the Kathy Shaidle post, but hadn't actually played the video until I saw it linked by Paco. Perhaps this would be a good occasion to explain why I have been reluctant to go all Rule 4 on David Frum, despite his anti-Rush cover story in Newsweek and his infamous "Unpatriotic Conservatives" National Review cover, which included Robert Novak, Pat Buchanan and other worthies in a vicious "anti-Semite" smear worthy of Ezra Klein. When Frum first published How We Got Here, the best history of the 1970s ever written, I attended an American Enterprise Institute book event where Frum spoke, did a feature story about him and his book in The Washington Times. I'd already read his 1995 book, Dead Right, and so was familiar with him. I was also familiar with his wife, Danielle Crittenden, whose 1998 book, WhatOur Mothers Didn't Tell Us, is a fascinating and eminently readable indictment of the feminist/careerist worldview. Which is to say, my acquaintance with Frum goes back to the days before he became a Bush administration speechwriter. I know him to be capable of good work, and his subsequent excursions into RINO-land have been a disappointment. However, I would contrast Frum's errors to the case of David Brooks, who has in recent years only confirmed what shrewd observers have known ever since his 1997 "National Greatness" cover story in The Weekly Standard: That Brooks is an un-conservative, or better yet, an anti-conservative, whose every instinct and impulse is in opposition to the philosophical tradition of Edmund Burke, Richard Weaver, Friedrich Hayek, Russell Kirk, et al. Furthermore, from Matthew Scully's 2007 Atlantic Monthly article about the inner workings of the Bush speechwriting shop, I have deep sympathy for Frum -- a successful journalist and author long before he signed up with the Bushies -- having had to toil anonymously in an operation run by that towering monument of uselessness, Michael Gerson. (See, "Separated at birth?") Like Luke Skywalker insisting that there is still some spark of good in Darth Vader, I choose to believe that Frum's grievous errors do not mean that he is as evil as Brooks or as useless as Gerson. Indeed, his New Majority Web site has offered publishing opportunities for some young conservatives of my acquaintance, including Tom Qualtere and Joe Marier. Thus it cannot be said that Frum does not continue to do good, despite his manifestations of RINOcity. What I wish Frum would consider is that, by so assiduously aligning himself with the elite Establishment -- "The Republicans Who Really Matter," as one of our guestbloggers dubbed them -- he undermines his potential for influence among the grassroots conservative activists who remain the heart and soul of the Republican Party. When you're a jet, you're a jet all the way. Allying yourself with the grassroots won't get you funding from foundations and deep-pocket RINO donors, it won't get your a cover story in Newsweek, but being a well-paid backstabbing Brooksian crapweasel is really not the kind of thing you want in the first paragraph of your obituary. A wise man lives as if life is short and tomorrow is not promised. Thus, I would do a dishonor to my children if I accursed the family name by becoming a vile creature like David Gergen who, if he were run over by a bus today, would deserve no notice from conservatives except, "Good riddance." Let us pray that David Frum grows wise, considers his errors, and amends his ways.