November 19, 2008

David Frum has been purged off into the sunset at NR… He’s leaving his NRO blogging gig at the end of the year and plans to start up a new website called “”

We could, of course, indulge in a little Schadenfreude with Frumy”€”the man who tried to purge the conservative movement of the antiwar Right is now getting his comeuppance, Robespiere is finally being led to the scaffold, etc. etc. But then NR and NRO are hardly imploding or descending into some Hobbesian state of no-holds-barred infighting”€”which at least might be entertaining for outside observers. No, the NR-world is simply becoming even more dumbed-down and partisan than it already is. Frumy was “amicably” fired, or nudged to resign, or given the hint, or something because he criticized McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin and fretted over the GOP’s loss of the college-educated electorate. This ain”€™t much like the Great NR Purges of Yore“€”the Buckleyites vs. the Birchers, the Conservatives vs. the Libertarians, the Open-Borders vs. the Restrictionists et al. All Fum’s departure means is that NRO will soon be staffed by more writers who resemble Kathryn Jean Lopez, and whose GOP cheerleading will be just as mindless and sanctimonious. Those with real brains who are left at NR will be frightened of even thinking about criticizing a Republican presidential nominee. 

Frum started heading down the road to “€œmoderation”€ with his 2007 book Comeback, in which, among other things, he argued that conservatives should triangulate on “€œgreen”€ issues, forget about tax cuts, and call a cease fire in the culture war (especially with regard to abortion). Though it’s definitely true that Frum’s always been a “€œmoderate,”€ Big Government conservative, I don”€™t think his heart was really in any of these Douthat-style arguments. The real David Frum shines through in his books from the early 2000s with those titles that are now quite embarrassing”€”The Right Man (referring to George W. Bush) and An End to Evil, co-authored with the grotesque Richard Pearle. Frum’s real fantasy is not of a liberal-ish Republican Party that appeals to voters with MAs but of a Republican Party synonymous with the Global War on Terror and one that unifies the aging white conservative base with urbanites and “€œsecurity moms”€ who prioritize terror fighting and “€œnational security”€ über alles.

Shortly after Bush’s re-election in 2004, this kind of majority disappeared, and Frum could no longer blog about “€œan end to evil”€ with a straight face. David Frum thus emerged as just another liberal-leaning, wonkish Republican”€”and one who’s not even close to recognizing that it was his foreign-policy recommendations, and not the culture war, that sullied the GOP in the minds of college-educated voters.

And what about this Frumian “€œnew majority”€”€”that is, center-left governance with an activist foreign policy? Well, I think Frum will find much to admire in the coming Obama administration…        


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