Sunday, March 22, 2009

Oh, this is good . . .

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, What Our 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.


  1. Jules likes the guy, too. Meanwhile, photojournalism in bad decline:

  2. Great post!

    You never cease to amaze me, R.S. McCain, but from my less-inside vantage point, you're going too easy on the guy! Rule 4 has it's limits, and that's okay, but are Brooks and Frum that far apart right now?

  3. I read his "Unpatriotic Conservatives" article from 2003:

    He names the right names -- people who are not friends of this country -- and most of them are religious supremacists.

    "You may know the names of these antiwar conservatives. Some are famous: Patrick Buchanan and Robert Novak. Others are not: Llewellyn Rockwell, Samuel Francis, Thomas Fleming, Scott McConnell, Justin Raimondo, Joe Sobran, Charley Reese, Jude Wanniski, Eric Margolis, and Taki Theodoracopulos."

  4. Yeah, David Frum's a good guy.

    Speaking personally, I think a lot of people interpreted his article on Rush too negatively: "walking stereotype of self-indulgence" that uses "the language of a cult" is pretty light by Internet standards. In the first case, he was making a point: that apolitical people know Rush more for his personal life than for the nuances of his political opinions, that conservatives who know and love him forget that at their peril; therefore, a one-on-one fight between Rush and Obama will not end well. Especially considering that the media will exaggerate the contrast (which is there despite it all).

    "The language of a cult"? Keep in mind Tom Wolfe's dictum: a cult is a religion without political power. Cult does not necessarily mean that we're murderous or polygamous or whatever: it could just mean that, you know, we're a small group of people who spend an inordinate amount of time talking to each other about our beliefs, to the point that too much of what we say to anyone outside the circle sounds kind of... off? Insane? Inflammatory?

    (As an aside, I dislike the term "cult", because it was once a value neutral term. Catholics will occasionally use the term "the cult of the saints", just to get a rise out of the Baptists in the room.)

    (As a second aside, just because I said "too negatively" doesn't mean that the article wasn't to be interpreted negatively. Boy, was it ever. But his principal argument, in case you missed it, was that Rush was knowingly hurting the Republican party, and the conservative movement, in order to bring attention to himself. David Frum, alas, is not the only person who thinks that. And few of the denunciations of Frum have even bothered to argue the point.)

    Back to Frum, and random beatdowns of Republicans: He did make his name early on by being one of the first to administer a beating to Pat Buchanan ("The Conservative Bully Boy", American Spectator, 1991). Taking on mainstream Republican figures is part of what he does, and guess what? He was largely right that Buchanan was bad for the Republican Party. By his own admission, he nearly got Al Gore elected. Losing presidential elections is generally considered a bad thing.

    He was denounced by Robert Novak for the 1991 article, by the way. Check Novak's contribution to Buckley's "In Search of Anti-Semitism." Which, by the way, is still absolutely essential to understanding a whole bunch of conservative thinkers.


  5. I think Frum frumity frum is a schism in his own mind. The branch of "conservatives" he thinks he's peeling off of the conservative tree is very, very small. But they get covered by NYT and LAT, which is the problem.


    The ackshual problem is that Republicans and conservatives keep reading useless rags like Newsweek and the NYT, and treating them as somehow worthy of attention. Not only are they failing at a remarkable rate, they aren't even "the news" anymore.

    Man up and read stuff by writers that understand how to use a search engine. If you can only find it them at Stacy's blog, Powerline, Hot Air, etc., then why waste time reading "the news" somewhere else?

  6. I can't believe Frum is the same weasel that wrote "How We Got Here", which was a damn good book.

    WTF went wrong?

  7. Yes, I agree that Mr. Brooks is a non-conservative and he still parades as one. But, why I have my problems with Mr. Frum is that he has done several things wrong and made it a personal Jihad to rid the conseravtive movement and the Republican party of people like us. Conservatives that are not afraid to stand up for the unpopular social issues. Right now, that is the backbone of the current GOP. And, Mr. Frum wants us to go away. And in return? The GOP becomes the party of Gov. Benedict Arnold. Or Mayor Rudy. And that is a loser party. I have plenty to say about this.