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Conservatives reject Frum-ism

Looks like David Frum has been fired from the American Enterprise Institute. The sin appears to be his recent criticism that lockstep Republican opposition to the health-care bill sacrificed conservative policy goals at the altar of short-term electoral incentives. This, apparently, is out of bounds. But he should know that: This dismissal comes after he left the National Review on the heels of bitter arguments over whether Sarah Palin was qualified to be president.

What you're seeing here is the tension between being a conservative and being a Republican. It's not that you can't be both at the same time, but that you have to know which wins when ideological push comes to electoral shove.

This gets to my earlier post on the fringes. It's not that there weren't high-minded criticisms of the health-care bill. They just weren't consistent with the party's past behavior or outcomes that were defined as conservative as recently as two or three years ago. And that made it hard to see even the more good-naturedly wonkish interlocutors as advancing an argument that was receptive to dialogue.

You saw this most clearly with the arguments over the deficit: Republicans concocted a series of arcane and misleading arguments for why the bill didn't save the money CBO said it saved, and then they made that the basis of their wonkish case against the legislation. But putting aside the analytical deficiencies of that argument, there was simply no doubt that the bill was far, far more fiscally responsible than the Medicare prescription drug benefit or the Bush tax cuts or the Bush wars. And the way it saved money -- cuts to Medicare and a tax that rolled back the tax break for employer-sponsored insurance -- were conservative as well. Cutting Medicare and ending that tax break are, for instance, the keys to Rep. Paul Ryan's alternative budget proposal.

Moreover, there was no doubt the bill looked like the reforms Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts and that the conservative Heritage Foundation advocated in the early Aughts. There's no doubt that it was more ideologically conservative than any major reform bill that had come before it. But none of that played any role in the party's rhetoric. Any time you heard someone calling this bill a "takeover of one-sixth of the economy," it was pretty good evidence that you could write that commentator off entirely.

As Frum saw clearly, if you were interested in a conservative health-care system, there was room for compromise in this bill. If Republicans had cut a deal on revenue, we could've capped the tax break for employer-sponsored insurance and there would've been no increase in Medicare payroll taxes. Health savings accounts and tort reform could've been much larger parts of the bill. A system of reinsurance for catastrophic costs, as Sen. Chuck Grassley once proposed, was certainly on the table. If Republicans had offered 40 real votes for Wyden-Bennett, I would've been on their side in this debate.

But whatever interest there was in making the outcome of this legislative process more conservative, it was swamped by the interest in making the outcome more Republican. I'm not saying that there's no reason conservatives could've found to oppose this bill. But there's no way to look at Medicare Part D and RomneyCare and conservative think tanks in the 1990s and 2000s and believe that all conservatives should've opposed this bill. There's definitely no way to square their past preferences and the rhetoric they abetted this time around. And in the final analysis, the bill is worse -- both from their perspective and mine -- for that opposition. You can pass bills on a party-line vote, but you can do more with bipartisan cover.

Which is not to say there was nothing to recommend the right's electoral strategy here. But pure obstructionism failed. You might think they'd go through a period of soul-searching now where they considered whether people like Frum might've had a point about the benefits of well-timed, principled compromise. Instead, they're excommunicating him. Looks like this approach is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 25, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

*headdesk*

Posted by: adamiani | March 25, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

They just keep diving deeper and deeper into the crazy hole. Very bad for our country.

By the way, what, exactly, is the GOP's long-term growth strategy? Calling elected Latino representatives "wetbacks?" Hurling racial slurs at civil-rights heroes? Threatening the spouses and siblings and children of elected officials who voted for reform? How is this party going to grow? When is a major Republican going to step and say "Enough?"

Posted by: scarlota | March 25, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

maybe the nutjobs will all go break Frum's windows and leave legislators alone.

Posted by: bdballard | March 25, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

It is the party/movement of the tiny tent. Stray an inch off the party line, and you'll get burned at the stake.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

“Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox,”

David Frum

http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/03/24/fmr-bush-speechwriter-frum-republicans-work-for-fox-news/

Frum's sin isn't that he bucked the GOP, but that he went against Fox.

I think the bigger problem is that, as a former Bushy stated, the GOP is now a party of "Mayberry Machiavellis." They don't care about policy, all they care about is politics. This is NOT new. They have no use for policy wonks, wonks just get in the way. Do you think a policy wonk would've let the Medicare Part D plan go through without any funding source?

Lacking anything that approaches a cohesive set of policies the GOP is now pretty much solely a message machine. Therefore, when Frum goes after Fox News, he is attacking the heart of the current GOP.

Listen, I loath the GOP. I can't stand them, but I realize America NEEDS at least two political parties.

Posted by: nisleib | March 25, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, thanks for doing such a great job on the health reform bill over the last year, and helping your readers follow the many twists and turns and arcane details of policy.

I agree with much of your post, except for one thing - Republicans gave up on conservatism as a philosophy a long time ago, and it's nothing more than a convenient and empty slogan now.

This is why true conservatives like David Frum or Andrew Sullivan no longer belong to the party that seems to define itself by it's intolerant and bigoted behavior, that scapegoats and bashes minorities, immigrants, gays, the disabled, the underprivileged, the poor, the sick, and anyone who doesn't look like them.

There is no room in the Republican Party any more for thinking, principled, moderate voices who believe that we can accomplish great things by learning the lessons of science and history, embracing change, and taking on the challenges of the twenty first century rather than hiding from them and wishing them away.

Posted by: sambam | March 25, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I thought Frum's argument was rather mild. I disagreed with points, but getting fired from the American Enterprise Institute?

Hmmm. A bad sign, if you ask me. The big tent keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Sullivan is not only not a conservative (at least, not any more), but his obsession with Sarah Palin's reproductive history became stalkerishly disturbing. He goes squarely into the fringe . . . of something.

Frum is a conservative on some things, more liberal on others, a neocon on others. But he reasons out his arguments.

And, no, there isn't much room in the Republican party for moderate voices right now. Although, in all fairness, even when the party has been more center-right, the Democrats didn't exactly give them a pass. When the party was more policy oriented and reach-across-the-aisle-ish, the Democrats didn't cut them any slack.

So now you've got some of the most radical conservatives in politics dominating the party, and likely to find themselves in congress come next November. Good job, Democrats! ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

You know, as I read this post and the one on fringes, and all the related comments, I am struck by this thought: what does it say when people outside a political party (be they centrist or liberal) recognize the state of chaos in the GOP (and conservatism in general), and regret the loss of reasoned, principled voices from that party (and political philosopy)? And at the same time, those still inside the chaos don't seem to recognize that they've lost anything?
I think you may be right, however: this could well get worse before (if ever) it gets better.

Posted by: reach4astar2 | March 25, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

"But pure obstructionism failed." -- there's substantial evidence to the contrary.

The UVa Center for Politics blogs today that "Currently, there are 46 Democrats in the House who represent districts won by John McCain in 2008. Even as the bill passed with wide Democratic support, those 46 “divided district” Democrats actually opposed it by a 26-20 vote margin." The author concludes his analysis by writing that "the health care vote will certainly be a factor in determining the size of the Republican victory in November" (which is an interesting choice of words).

Posted by: rmgregory | March 25, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

In order to have intellectual ferment, you have to tolerate some dissent. When the conservative movement refused to tolerate any criticism of Bush, they cut off any possibility of new ideas, and we have seen the result.

Steve Benen has a post quoting Bruce Bartlett saying that Frum told him that AEI said nothing on the health care bill because they were the originator of some of the ideas in the bill, and they were proscribed from talking about it. This kind of lock step not only takes them out of the debate, it impoverishes the debate, to the extent they have any ideas. They sold their souls for access to power, and now they are eunuchs as well. Williamn Kristol, the laughingstock, is the model here.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_03/023055.php

Posted by: Mimikatz | March 25, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

"getting fired from the American Enterprise Institute?"

Yeah, Norm Ornstein seems to have avoided the heave-ho, though he was outspoken (in a principled conservative fashion) during the Bush years, and was calling out the GOP for its hypocrisy on Congressional procedure in recent weeks.

Frum's heresy against Fox News may well be the decisive factor.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | March 25, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Things like the American Enterprise Institute have always pretended to be actual "think tanks" like the Brookings Institution, but that would mean that their "fellows" were free to think independently, to advocate and test their hypotheses, and that those hypotheses would be presented in peer-reviewed papers. None of that is true at these Republican think tank clones. They are ersatz. The particular position everybody is supposed to advocate is pre-determined at the top, and all the employees are expected to adhere to it, the facts be damned. These places are ersatz, only existing to give a false intellectual gloss to whatever the Republican party line is. The firing of Frum shows this with great force and clarity.

Posted by: ducdebrabant | March 25, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Rmgregory:
'"But pure obstructionism failed." -- there's substantial evidence to the contrary.'

Not so. First we have to define what it means to have failed. Did it produce a better political result than the alternative? Did it produce a better policy result than the alternative?

If the Republicans wanted an optimal conservative policy, they would have all signed on to Wyden-Bennet and made a deal of it.

If Republicans wanted an optimal political victory, they would have offered a 'compromise' watered-down version of the legislation at some point (say, after Scott Brown's victory), and let the Democrats tear themselves up over it, possibly preventing any bill passage, making themselves look more reasonable and a large section of the Democratic party look like an extremist fringe.

Kevin_Willis:
"When the party was more policy oriented and reach-across-the-aisle-ish, the Democrats didn't cut them any slack."

Nope. But I (and many others) were more likely to vote for Republicans then, and thus there were more of them. Also, it was better for the country as a whole.

Posted by: adamiani | March 25, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

'"the health care vote will certainly be a factor in determining the size of the Republican victory in November" (which is an interesting choice of words).'

If you define 'victory' meaning the GOP has a net gain in both houses, and that piece seems to be doing so, then you won't find much dissent. Taking control of those houses is another matter, as the other pieces make clear.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | March 25, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

*When the party was more policy oriented and reach-across-the-aisle-ish, the Democrats didn't cut them any slack.*

Um, what kind of alternate reality is this that you are describing? In the 70s and 80s, the Democrats were really unthreatened by the Republicans because there was no chance of the Democrats losing their majority status. Because of that, Democrats and Republicans could actually pretty easily cooperate on bills, because the Republicans were not a political threat. It is only when there is a clear possibility of gaining control of the chamber when it pays off for a minority to obstruct since there is the hope that there will not be any personal/political consequence with the other party because the minority will then be in control.

Kevin has a bunch of myths that he tells himself in order to justify his consistent support for Republicans. Though I guess you would have to in order to live with yourself.

Posted by: constans | March 25, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

They tell each other that they are going to win. First because this is an off year election, etc, and eventually it is God's will and all that.

If you are predestined to win, do you want insufficiently true blue and ideologically pure pundits like Frum in your party?

Of course not.

Long before they get to go at the Dems with their ill controlled ire, the T-s are going to be bagging RINOS and other ideologically incorrect pols, and what they finally take into the November Election will make AUH2O seem to be a reincarnation of Eugene V Debs.

Posted by: ceflynline | March 25, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

@ nisleib: I realize America NEEDS at least two political parties.

Hey we have the blue dogs and the real democrats. Isn't that enough? /snark

What Mimikatz said.

I think that the commenters are right when they said that going against Fox News is the real cardinal sin (with debating republican strategy a smaller included offense) and the reason he was fired by AEI.

Not toeing the Fox party line = extreme employment insecurity at AEI

Posted by: srw3 | March 25, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand how the healthcare bill can be considered a major policy defeat for the GOP, whilst simultaneously being essentially the Dole plan, the Romney plan, and the Heritage Foundation plan. Surely the Republicans have succeeded in getting the Democrats to pass the GOP healthcare plan, while still getting to attack them for it?

This trick might backfire if the plan proves successful/popular, but that is another matter.

Posted by: Unwisdom | March 25, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

"Andrew Sullivan is not only not a conservative (at least, not any more), but his obsession with Sarah Palin's reproductive history became stalkerishly disturbing."

Kevin,

Sullivan is a passionate believer in small, limited government that intrudes as little as possible into the private sector and into private lives. His modern political heroes are Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher, and he has written extensive scholarship about traditional conservative political philosophers like Oakeshott.

These days he is considered to be "not a conservative...any more" because he is openly gay, admitted that the Iraq war was a mistake (after initially supporting it) and because he thinks the Bush administration was disastrous for the conservative cause, and that the Bush torture policies were criminally wrong. If you think any of those disqualifies him as a conservative, I would argue that is part of the problem with the conservative movement today, which is more about partisanship and a narrow cultural and ethnic brand than it is about beliefs about the proper boundaries on the role of government in human society.

Yes, he has repeatedly goaded Sarah Palin about the circumstances of the birth of her latest child, but he makes a very good case that her story does not add up, and besides...so what?

His book "The Conservative Soul" is a very well-reasoned account of how and why the Republican party has drifted away from Reagan-style conservative philosophy. I disagree with much of Sullivan's conservative beliefs, but I admire his intellectual honesty, and I'll take his brand of thoughtful conservatism any day of the week over pandering hacks like Michael Steele, John Boehner, and the folks at AEI who just tossed Frum under the bus.

AEI showed us today that they are a conservative think tank that is light on the "think" and heavy on the "tank."

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Kevin

that's what happens when fringes take over. The tent gets smaller and smaller.

The Goldwater era is symbolic of the end of true conservatism.

These kinds of things are I am no longer a republican.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 25, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

"Not toeing the Fox party line = extreme employment insecurity at AEI"

How many AEIers have "contributor" gigs at Fox News?

AEIOU.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | March 25, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, there are other possibilities than just holding the Republican party line. I wonder if Republican party has now completely shifted from "limited government" conservatism of the past in favor of economic libertarianism.

Posted by: mgblock2000-washpost | March 25, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Healthy organizations welcome principled debate and criticism. Whether or not you agree with Frum's conclusions it is amazing to me that he is not even allowed to state them, and start an in-house debate. The GOP is NOT a healthy organization. Is it becoming a cult?

The Dems somtimes appear to be disorganized and not unified, but at least they permit dissenting viewpoints on important subjects: guns, abortion, public option, Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.

Posted by: outragex | March 25, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Frum is not a conservative. He is a liberal posing as a "reasonable" (i.e. leftist) conservative in order to be a go to guy for the liberal MSM.

Same stunt that Andrew Sullivan pulled.

People here are under the impression that Frum had "reasoning" in his essays. He did not. Most recent example, he wrote that Republicans should have "compromised" on the health care bill - on which parts of it? How? He does not say, because he does not know. Look at that essay of his and tell me where he showed any insight into actual policy whatsoever.

AEI were right to let him go. They should not have hired him in the first place. His unsuitability for the job is not some small detail, it's not over some tiny transgression, it goes to the core of who Frum is. He's a fake.

Posted by: WmTSherman1 | March 25, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Unwisdom, I fear you could be correct. The repigs get much of what they wanted out of this centrist bill (to be fair, it does have some bipartisan ideas), while simultaneously bashing the dems for all of it. OTOH, the repubs have made such a spectacle out of opposing this bill, that it will be hard for them to support anything in it, even if they like it.

Posted by: srw3 | March 25, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you are right as often as a stopped clock. This post represents one of the two times.

Posted by: kingstu01 | March 25, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Like all else 'Republican' the conservative "Think Tank" is nothing more than a propaganda organ set up to counter the reality based, data driven think tanks like the Rand Corporation, the Brookings Inst. and others. When facts don't support your Politics and Ideology, do what any self-respecting Corporation would do, buy your own experts to produce your own 'facts'. The entire Conservative enterprise, with it's phony colleges and law schools serves only to provide academic cover for The Company.

The sad (or sick) thing is that Frum was so delusional that he actually though that he had any 'freedom' of speech at all. He joins a long list of Republican apostates who dared to speak out against Doctrine.

Posted by: thebobbob | March 25, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

"Frum is not a conservative. He is a liberal posing as a "reasonable" (i.e. leftist) conservative in order to be a go to guy for the liberal MSM... He's a fake."

Hilarious. You say this about the man who wrote the "axis of evil" speech.

Stick with Sarah Palin, now there's a deep thinker, ya betcha!

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

@KW:Democrats didn't exactly give them a pass. When the party was more policy oriented and reach-across-the-aisle-ish, the Democrats didn't cut them any slack.

I think that historically, Dems have bent over backwards to accommodate republican ideas into their proposals. If you look at where the parties were in 1960 and where they are now, the dems have moved massively toward the center, while the republicans have moved to rightwingnutistan. And exactly when have republicans EVER cut dems slack? It sure wasn't questioning the patriotism of those who opposed the Iraq invasion, or illegal wiretapping, or torture, or the massive increase in extrodinary renditions. It sure wasn't when Reagan ruled the roost. It wasn't during the Nixon administration. I think you have to go back to Eisenhower to find any significant republican examples of "giving some slack" to the other party.

Posted by: srw3 | March 25, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Here's what I think most commentators are ignoring -- we can look back at Romneycare passed in 2006, or the Heritage Institute's proposed reforms in the early part of the decade and see that the GOP had some ideas about health care reform. Good ones that we actually used. But where have they gone since then? The party continued moving right, but the policies stagnated. I think the bottom line is not so much that they decided to uniformly oppose health care reform, any health care reform, because it came from the Dems, but that they simply didn't have any better ideas. Sure Coburn et. al. were screaming about preventative care, insurance deregulation, wellness etc. But for people seriously engaged in health care policy, the reaction was always sort of, "And? Is this the best you can come up with?"

I truly believe the GOP felt health care reform was so pie-in-the-sky, they stopped bothering to advance the ball, policy-wise. Moreover, health care has never been a GOP issue, they've never really had a well-defined, consistent party stance on what health care reform should look like and what the goals should be (it's ever shifting - coverage? cost control? wellness?). And maybe this gets to the larger problem with the GOP, the one which Sarah Palin embodied: they quit doing the heavy intellectual lifting in favor of political pandering to an increasingly frenzied base.

Posted by: bmpietz | March 25, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

"hyping the fringes" Fringes 1; Frum 0. And so it goes....

Posted by: golewso | March 25, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

David Frum - Brooks said he "welcomed and celebrated" Frum's Waterloo post and that Brooks said he was asking Frum to leave AEI because "these are hard times." Frum said Brooks offered him the opportunity to keep writing for AEI, though without compensation

Posted by: ajguru | March 25, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

ajguru,

Please try to be less selective when reporting the facts. Here are the tidbits you leave out:

“Does it have anything to do with what would be the most obvious explanation of what happened?” [Frum] said in an interview after his lunch. “I don’t know. That’s not what they say.”

Asked if he believed that explanation, Mr. Frum responded, “I’m not going to say that they’re not telling the truth.”

If you really think that the AEI only let go of Frum for financial reasons, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. The timing of this decision tells you all you need to know.

Ask Bruce Bartlett how this "instant heretic" stuff works.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Rare occasion that I agree with Kevin_Willis - indeed this is a bad sign.

As commenters like 'scarlota' and many others have said, indeed this is bad for America. Needless to say we are going to go to 'dog house' if we do not have at least two vibrant political parties.

It is true that Frum indeed went to the core of the problem of GOP - not the critique of HCR but the way they are beholden to Fox, Glen Beck and Sarah Palin. Actually Ezra does not talk that part much though it is understandable that he would like to focus on the HCR critic. But as like many other commenters observed, sacking of Frum seems less to do with GOP criticism in not co-operating on HCR but more because he touched the core problem of GOP.

It is curious that this phenomenon of a major political party getting beholden to strident & fringe elements and as a result their electoral fortunes decline; it is quite common in Democracies. Within Indian context, this reminds BJP-RSS nexus. RSS is ultra nationalistic, conservative, religion based outfit and totally dominating national party BJP. As a result BJP continues to struggle and does not find a footing. Same here.

Tea Party is literally pulling down GOP and it is sad to watch. We all are looser.

Andrew Sullivan is 'sui generis'. He has out grown Conservatism, case in point his latest celebrated attack on Pope. So I guess he is not any average Conservative and we may be better off trying to compare with him.

Posted by: umesh409 | March 25, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

...and speaking of Bruce Bartlett, he posted the following today:

"Since, he is no longer affiliated with AEI, I feel free to say publicly something he [David Frum] told me in private a few months ago. He asked if I had noticed any comments by AEI "scholars" on the subject of health care reform. I said no and he said that was because they had been ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do.

It saddened me to hear this. I have always hoped that my experience was unique. But now I see that I was just the first to suffer from a closing of the conservative mind. Rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed, and the conservative brain will slowly shrivel into dementia if it hasn't already.

Sadly, there is no place for David and me to go. The donor community is only interested in financing organizations that parrot the party line, such as the one recently established by McCain economic adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin.

I will have more to say on this topic later. But I wanted to say that this is a black day for what passes for a conservative movement, scholarship, and the once-respected AEI."

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

...we may be better off trying to compare with him.

It should be "we may be better off NOT trying to compare with him."

Posted by: umesh409 | March 25, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

"...we may be better off trying to compare with him.

It should be "we may be better off NOT trying to compare with him."

umesh409:

I am unclear why criticizing the Pope disqualifies a person from being a legitimate political conservative.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious. You say this about the man who wrote the "axis of evil" speech.

Stick with Sarah Palin, now there's a deep thinker, ya betcha!

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

A speechwriter is a wordsmith, not a policy wonk. Frum worked in the Bush White House for quite a short stint - partly because of being credited that peculiar "axis of evil" turn of phrase. It's another job from which he was fired.

Frum is a type of chameleon found in D.C. He can write, he can hang out and socialize, within limits he can be what you want him to be - but he does not have any deep thoughts of his own to share.

Show me some evidence of real thinking from this man.

Regarding Sarah Palin - it's not that she is a brilliant thinker. None of them are - not Obama, not McCain, certainly not Biden. Obama and Biden have both said idiotic-sounding things, repeatedly.

Defend Biden's intelligence. Seriously, I'd like to hear it.

Posted by: WmTSherman1 | March 25, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

"A speechwriter is a wordsmith, not a policy wonk. Frum worked in the Bush White House for quite a short stint - partly because of being credited that peculiar "axis of evil" turn of phrase. It's another job from which he was fired.

Frum is a type of chameleon found in D.C. He can write, he can hang out and socialize, within limits he can be what you want him to be - but he does not have any deep thoughts of his own to share.

Show me some evidence of real thinking from this man. Posted by: WmTSherman1"

A Republican with hurt feelings denigrates a Republican who hurt them.

Strange that his complaint is about ex WH speech writers, when so many of them get semi permanent status as policy wonks on the OP ED pages of the WAPO and lots of room in every assemblage of Republican "Thinkers", UNTIL they dare speak out of turn.

Does it ever occur to these purity enforcers that when you force enough of these "Speech Writers" out of the party some of them may decide to speak for themselves? WHEN they do, and they are closer to the center than you are, your Purity Party is one with the Know Nothings, and the Wide Awakes, and the Anti Masons.

Keep up the good work Uncle Billy, and go through the country with a hundred mile front, leaving no pig un-stolen and no bee hive un-emptied. The country will soon have the same affection for you that Georgia and South Carolina have for your name sake.

Posted by: ceflynline | March 25, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

"I am unclear why criticizing the Pope disqualifies a person from being a legitimate political conservative."

Glad that you caught me there. You are right in true sense that Political Conservatism has nothing to do with it whereas moral Conservatism in West is bound to get preoccupied with Papacy.

Having said how is NRO doing here? There prefer to keep quite. Is Glen Beck and Fox taking up this criticism of Pope? I doubt.

Agreed, it proves the precise point you are talking that Conservatism and today's 'standard barer' of Political Conservatism, these two things are different and today's standard barer of Right are really going fast away from the true ideals. If that is the point, I agree with you.

What I wanted to point out was Andrew Sullivan is systematically ready to take on every topic which is 'taboo' with standard barer of Political Conservatism today. That involves Pope. Remember, it is the same Pope whose birthday was celebrated in White House and Bush legitimately 'rubbed' on the moral / papal star dust which was sprinkled in the air.

Posted by: umesh409 | March 25, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

--"... consistent with the party's past behavior or outcomes that were defined as conservative as recently as two or three years ago."--

What misfits like Klein can't bend their tiny minds around is that conservatism has nothing to do with a fad-ism that ebbs and flows according to popular notions. The frivolities of political meatheads do not define what is right and what is wrong when it comes to notions of personal liberty and responsibility, but those frivolities and fads are the stuff that Klein's career are made of, which, I assure you, is a reflection on his lack of character.

Posted by: msoja | March 25, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

umesh409,

Andrew Sullivan is a blogger who is a political conservative and also a lifelong Catholic. So just as he writes about political philosophy he also writes about his Catholicism and issues within the church.

I don't really connect the two any more than I would connect Ezra's public policy writing and his occasional sharing of a recipe.

WmTSherman1,

Visit the FrumForum blog sometime. You'll find an energetic forum with unusual depth of genuine conservative thought. Frum is anything but a chameleon -- that is just crazy talk. The real chameleons are the purely partisan hacks that you'll find seated on the Republican side of the aisle on Capitol Hill. Grassley already bragging about the content of the HCR bill that he voted against, Hatch calling the individual mandate that he always supported "totalitarianism," etc. etc.

But now Frum is "excommunicated" (to borrow a Catholic term) because he happened to criticize a particular partisan strategy on a particular issue. You folks are too funny.

Your tent is very small and getting smaller every day, dude. Soon you'll barely be able to squeeze in your tea bag.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

--"Looks like David Frum has been fired from the American Enterprise Institute."--

You're lying again, Klein. The link you give is to Frum's "letter of resignation."

Posted by: msoja | March 25, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

@Patrick_M: "Sullivan is a passionate believer in small, limited government that intrudes as little as possible into the private sector and into private lives. His modern political heroes are Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher, and he has written extensive scholarship about traditional conservative political philosophers like Oakeshott."

Well, he certainly used to be. If he still is, I rarely see much sign of it. Maybe so. I would consider him a "reformed conservative" or, more likely, a "small government liberal". The "small government" being mostly when it's convenient. Like most movement conservatives, though, so I guess that's okay. But Sullivan is not a political conservative. If he is, the word conservative doesn't really mean anything. Sullivan is more like a liberal who holds too many views you don't agree with than a conservatives. And, yes, I'm sorry, the total birther vibe of his Sarah Palin obsession was just creepy. YMMV.

The AEI dismissal of Frum was goofy. Misses the entire point of being a think tank. And Frum is a conservative. With friends like these . . .

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

@constans: "Kevin has a bunch of myths that he tells himself in order to justify his consistent support for Republicans. Though I guess you would have to in order to live with yourself."

Thanks for that. You've really opened my eyes.

Plus, I don't support Republicans. I vote against Democrats. I thought I had made that clear. :)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

//cite:
"While it has always been and will always be AEI's practice to not discuss personnel matters, David Frum is a truly original thinker and we are proud to have been associated with him for the last seven years. His decision to leave in no way diminishes our respect for him," Mr. Brooks told The Wall Street Journal in a statement through a spokeswoman.
//end cite
http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2726743

Kind of dents dim Klein's entire thrust, don't it?

Posted by: msoja | March 25, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

msoja,

If it would not be too painful, try knowing what you are talking about before spouting off and wasting Internet bandwidth.

Frum was taken to lunch, told he would no longer be a paid "fellow" at AEI, but told he could remain as an unpaid member. Thus he submitted his public "resignation" with the customary diplomatic form language.

See my prior comments on this thread for more information if you are too lazy to research the facts yourself.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

"Kind of dents dim Klein's entire thrust, don't it?"

Your posting dents one dimwit, but it is not Ezra Klein. Research the story and forget the empty polite formalities in the formal separation announcements, Einstein.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Kevin,

Thanks for your thoughts on Sullivan. If you can point to any specific examples of what you consider to be his NON-conservative philosophy, that would be helpful. And if you have not read "The Conservative Soul," I think it might suprise you.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

""Frum is a type of chameleon found in D.C. He can write, he can hang out and socialize, within limits he can be what you want him to be - but he does not have any deep thoughts of his own to share.""

David Frum is a conservative who wrote a book-long screed on the necessity of keeping the public at constant risk of abject destitution because this would force them to behave in "socially conservative" ways and ensure that they would conform to the culture of their those above them on the hierarchy. This is the very essence of conservatism.

In any case, as the Washington Post editorial page shows, there is _nothing_ that a conservative can say that would make them unpopular amongst the dinner party set. Heck, Krauthammer, Thiesson, Gerson, and Rove are the toast of the town. There's no need to act "liberal" to ingratiate yourself with them. It seems the only thing you can do to alienate yourself from DC cocktail party culture is to have opposed the Iraq war.

Posted by: tyromania | March 25, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

--"If it would not be too painful, try knowing what you are talking about before spouting off and wasting Internet bandwidth."--

I see your usual empty bloviating with no facts in evidence. Maybe you should look over your cheap drivel, yourself.

Posted by: msoja | March 25, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

"I see your usual empty bloviating with no facts in evidence. Maybe you should look over your cheap drivel, yourself."

Facts already in evidence, which yu ignore, about the firing of Frum:

“Does it have anything to do with what would be the most obvious explanation of what happened?” [Frum] said in an interview after his lunch. “I don’t know. That’s not what they say.”

Asked if he believed that explanation, Mr. Frum responded, “I’m not going to say that they’re not telling the truth.”

...and from fellow Bushie Bruce Bartlett:

"Since, he is no longer affiliated with AEI, I feel free to say publicly something he [David Frum] told me in private a few months ago. He asked if I had noticed any comments by AEI "scholars" on the subject of health care reform. I said no and he said that was because they had been ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do.

It saddened me to hear this. I have always hoped that my experience was unique. But now I see that I was just the first to suffer from a closing of the conservative mind. Rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed, and the conservative brain will slowly shrivel into dementia if it hasn't already.

Sadly, there is no place for David and me to go. The donor community is only interested in financing organizations that parrot the party line, such as the one recently established by McCain economic adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin.

I will have more to say on this topic later. But I wanted to say that this is a black day for what passes for a conservative movement, scholarship, and the once-respected AEI."


msoja, if you really want to argue that Frum just voluntarily resigned from his fellowship at the AEI, go right ahead. Never stop posting, you are a constant source of mirth and fascination, and you will always remain my favorite nueron-free anarchist.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

msoja:

"...the stuff that Klein's career are made of, which, I assure you, is a reflection on his lack of character."

What does your constant disinterest in (and disregard for) the facts (already in evidence) tell us about your own lack of character?

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

You're either with us, or you are against us.

Sigh. The more I think about it, the more discouraging it seems. It's more bad news for conservatism as a legitimate governing philosophy. Or as a set of guiding principles for crafting policy.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Patrick,

Sullivan endorsed John Kerry and Barack Obama. Not a conservative. Would a liberal have endorsed Bush? McCain, maybe, but what about Sarah Palin?

Basically, I agree with this guy:

http://proteinwisdom.com/?p=11256

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 25, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Kevin_ Willis,

Take heart, I have good news. The RNC has just adopted a fresh set of guiding principles for crafting policy, and here is the inspiring explanatory video from the Republican leadership:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtMV44yoXZ0

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

""Sullivan endorsed John Kerry and Barack Obama. Not a conservative.""

The problem that you and the AEI executives both have is that you keep confusing "conservative" with "Republican partisan." Just because you're a conservative doesn't mean you're willing to follow a crazed, broken political party off a cliff with whatever idiot they decide to nominate. The AEI is crawling with conservatives that the management had to forcibly silence because their conservatives agreed with the health care reform plan. Why? Because the AEI management, like you, consistently conflated "conservative" with "mindless devotee of John Boehner."

Posted by: tyromania | March 25, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I wrote a letter to the AEI back in Aug or Sept when one of their folks suggested essentially that cost-saving innovations via government couldn't happen, etc. It's too bad to see their voice of reason go away. Will the AEI become marginalized now? We hardly need just an ideological line against new ideas from an institute that is supposed to represent Enterprise (a bold, difficult, or important undertaking; willingness to undertake new or risky projects; energy and initiative ).

Posted by: HalHorvath | March 25, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

ah, here's a partial answer to my question (from the Post's front page): "Bruce Bartlett, another conservative scholar who has been at odds with the right, wrote that Frum told him AEI staffers "had been ordered not to speak to the media" about health care "because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do. . . . The donor community is only interested in financing organizations that parrot the party line."

That's actually encouraging in a way.

This means Republicans still have a kind of buried core of reason and balance that can be drawn upon if they can get back to their roots (which roots are not in evidence in public anywhere lately).

Posted by: HalHorvath | March 25, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Kevin,

I know Sullivan voted for Kerry given his extreme dissatisfaction (as a conservative) with Bush. I recall that his decision to vote for Kerry was not terribly enthusiastic, and I am not sure I would call it an "endorsement."

Likewise he found McCain's campaign to be incoherent and troubling, and the decision to put a brainless moron like Palin "a heartbeat away" to be disqualifying in itself. He saw in Obama a potentially moderate President and he saw in McCain-Palin a disaster in the making. If it is conservative to vote for perceived disaster over moderation, then perhaps we have a different definition.

I have voted for Republicans, and if the Dems (for whom I ordinarily vote) nominated anybody as bird-brained as Palin I would not support their ticket. That's about competence and integrity, not conservative or liberal philosophy. Hopefully we all begin with good government. You are arguing partisanship here, not conservative vs. political thought.

Again, if you know of a particular policy issue about which Sullivan has argued a liberal position, I'd like to know.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Funny story about the AEI: unlike the Heritage Foundation, the AEI actually started out as a "real" think tank which retained actual scholars for the purpose of producing research. It then realized in the 80s that the _real_ money was to be made sucking up to conservative wealth in order to generate funds, so they went from a middle-of-the-road, wannabe-Brookings to a right-wing shill factory.

Posted by: tyromania | March 25, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

"This means Republicans still have a kind of buried core of reason and balance that can be drawn upon if they can get back to their roots"

It is "reason and balance" at AEI when their AEI "scholars" [not "staffers," per Bartlett himself] on the subject of health care are ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do" (because it actually was in line with a long-developed train of conservative thought on the subject)?

Really?

This muzzling of the thinkers in the tank is a good sign for a "buried core of reason and balance?" Hmmm.

Seems like kind of an Orwellian concept to me.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

--"Sigh. [...] It's more bad news for conservatism as a legitimate governing philosophy. Or as a set of guiding principles for crafting policy."--

You almost have it, but I'm afraid you never will.

Conservatism, or even Classic Liberalism, is about *self government*, not about "legitimate governing philosph[ies]" or "principles for crafting policy" which are all anti-individualism, anti-freedom. You don't understand, seem incapable of fathoming the supremacy of the individual. *You* are the president of your own life. *You* are the agent of your own moral existence. Government is at best a distraction from the exercise of one's free will, and at worst a set of concrete overshoes (alá health care reform). If one doesn't see it that way, and granted, a great many don't, all I can say is that it's a distinct step back from the principles that grew out of the Enlightenment. And stepping back isn't going to be pretty, all the screaming about ugliness and threats of violence notwithstanding. I abhor violence, but I'll say this: I'm glad I don't live anywhere near a big city, and yet, I'm not under any illusions about being safe out where I am.

Just remember, when the whole thing crashes, you were up to your narrow eyebrows talking about "policy" to control your fellow man.

Posted by: msoja | March 25, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

---Asked if he believed that explanation, Mr. Frum responded, “I’m not going to say that they’re not telling the truth.”---

Hmm. Well. Well, *that's* a freaking smoking gun if I ever saw one.

It distinctly sounds like Frum is more disgruntled than anyone else you care to quote. Well, except for the other guy you quote, also disparaging conservatives.

Yeah, Klein has a nice little propaganda machine going here. It's not like it's a secret.

Posted by: msoja | March 25, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Republicans-

msoja is your future! "Government is at best a distraction from the exercise of one's free will, and at worst a set of concrete overshoes (alá health care reform)."

Somalia or Yemen, where all government is vanquished, that is the one and only true "shining city on the hill." Let msoja, enemy of the US Constitution, lead you to the promised land.

He loves reading Ezra every day, but he "don't live anywhere near a big city, and yet, [he's]not under any illusions about being safe out where I am."

He is your future. Deliverance. Feel the joy.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

---He loves reading Ezra every day, but he "don't live anywhere near a big city, and yet, [he's]not under any illusions about being safe out where I am."---

You have to be dishonest, I suppose.

The people I fear are those whose government benefits will be cut off in the coming collapse. Those are the people you should fear, too.

Posted by: msoja | March 25, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Patrick, the buried core is exactly that reasonable staff. In other words, instead of empty ideology, the staff has some kind of balance and reason that could be used again some day.

Posted by: HalHorvath | March 25, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

And Patrick, you seem to have "ignored" my pointing out that you were a little short on the evidence you said you had. Ad hominem serves you well, I suppose, at least for a little while.

Posted by: msoja | March 25, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

"It distinctly sounds like Frum is more disgruntled than anyone else you care to quote."

Memo to Brainiac,

Yes, the guy who gets fired is the most disgruntled. Do you thinks someone who "resigns" (your original theory) is more disgruntled?

Frum is lke the general manager of a sports franchise who was offered the chance to stay on as an unpaid volunteer to clean the upper deck. Duh ... damn straight he is disgruntled.

Have you dipped into too much everclear from the stash below your trailer tonight, anarchist? You can't seem to keep your theory about what happened to David Frum straight. Get some sleep, anarchist.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Just remember, when the whole thing crashes, you were up to your narrow eyebrows talking about "policy" to control your fellow man.

Posted by: msoja | March 25, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

HalHorvath,

Thanks. I take your point now. Yes, I think there are a lot of conservative thinkers that one day might hopefully reorganize outside the partisan institutions that have made them unwelcome in the modern era. And I would welcome that.

The people that have been muzzled or alienated on the Right are potentially far more formidable adversaries to liberals than the intellectual midgets who have cast them out.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

---Do you thinks [sic] someone who "resigns" (your original theory) is more disgruntled?---

Aside from the fact that people submitting resignations are generally disgruntled about something? That's a toughie. Can I think about it?

Another stupid thing you do, Patrick, is invoke Somalia and Yemen whenever you notice me commenting here. Is that a tacit admission that were the government to fall, you'd be out there looting and committing mayhem of various sorts, hoping to leverage your dim abilities with a little initiation of force? Or is that just a little tar to throw at those you need to keep under the yoke financing your social programs?

Posted by: msoja | March 26, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

"Just remember, when the whole thing crashes.."

Yes, I'll be sure to remember. Armageddon is nigh, yada, yada, yada.

Remember: Yemen! Somalia!

Go there, and enjoy, and stop wasting your time talking about "talking about policy to control your fellow man." Because over there, you never have to! Nobody thinks about "policy!" Everyone is free! No more tyranny! It is msoja paradise! Heaven on earth!

Sweet! Now take another pull from the moonshine, and kill another brain cell (if you still can).

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 26, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

---Frum is lke [sic] the general manager of a sports franchise---

Only instead of little gilded trophy, the players are vying for the lives of real people, and Frum was willing to deal in the freedom of his compatriots. A guy like that is sure to be disgruntled when he doesn't get his way.

Posted by: msoja | March 26, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

msoja:

Nice try.

You have repeatedly made it clear that all you care about is individual liberty and that you do not care whether a governmental action of any sort is constitutional if it infringes on your bottomless well of individual liberty. You are an anarchist, and the all-important center of your own universe.

Somalia and Yemen do not have functioning governments. They are lawless failed states. That makes them your natural environment, if you actually had the courage to live according to your own professed twaddle. Of course, you don't.

You prefer to enjoy the fruits of life in America, governed by thieves, and complain daily on Ezra Klein's blog about how you are "enslaved" by the representatives elected by a majority of your fellow citizens, rather than live your beliefs in a society where government does not infringe upon yur precious unlimited liberty.

That is who you are. A self-professed anarchist, an enemy of the US Constitution, a coward, and a selfish constant whiner.

You are also a very special part of life's rich pageant, and so I hope you NEVER EVER stop posting.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 26, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

---Remember: Yemen! Somalia!

Go there, and enjoy, and stop wasting your time talking about "talking about policy to control your fellow man." Because over there, you never have to! Nobody thinks about "policy!" Everyone is free! No more tyranny! It is msoja paradise! Heaven on earth!---

Can *you* manage to control yourself absent the threat of punitive government measures, Patrick? Or can't you? What is it you fear about a more free society? That you couldn't control your own feeble self?

Posted by: msoja | March 26, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

--an enemy of the US Constitution--

Where is health care reform in the the U.S. Constitution, Patrick? Where is being forced to buy health insurance in the U.S. Constitution, Patrick? Where is the forced "charity" toward my fellow man in the U.S. Constitution, Patrick?

Tell me who is the "enemy of the US Constitution", you lying low life.

Posted by: msoja | March 26, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

"Only instead of little gilded trophy, the players are vying for the lives of real people, and Frum was willing to deal in the freedom of his compatriots. A guy like that is sure to be disgruntled when he doesn't get his way."

-or-

Frum had the temerity to express the viewpoint that overly partisan party hacks had executed a politically AND ideologically self-defeating strategy, and Frum was then shown the door in exchange for his intellectually honest constructive criticism.

That is the simple truth about what happened, and that's what the rational people here were attempting to discuss.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 26, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

"Where is health care reform in the the U.S. Constitution, Patrick?"

Where is wearing a blue shirt in the US Constitution, mosoja? Where is owning a dog in the US Constitution?

Not everything we get to have in our lives is named there, including affordable access to health care.

"Where is being forced to buy health insurance in the U.S. Constitution, Patrick?"

See the Second Militia Act of 1791, in which the original US Congress forced people to buy products. Passed by a Congress filled with framers of the Constitution and signed into law by George Washington, the father of our country. I am sure you think George and his co-conspirators were socialist tyrants too.

"Where is the forced "charity" toward my fellow man in the U.S. Constitution."

No "forced charity" in HCR. You are assessed a minor tax of $691 or 2.5% of your income (whichever is less) which is waived altogether if you have insurance or fall below the poverty line. It is a tax on the few morons who refuse to have the good sense to be insured, thereby increasing costs for their fellow citizens.

I am sure you don't think taxes are constitutional, but the law of the land (under the US Constitution) is not on the side of your greed and strictly self-enforced total blind ignorance.

The last word tonight is all yours, and I look forward to it eagerly. NEVER stop posting.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 26, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

I submit to Patrick_M as I did in another post, that the Second Militia act of 1791 basically drafted most every male of ages 18-45 in good health into an organized militia and told them to purchase their own fighting gear within six months. Since this was an effort towards providing for the "National Defense," as stated in the relevant Act, it was one of the powers of the Federal Gov't stated within Article 1, Section 8 of the constitution.

I argue that citing the Second Militia act of 1791 alone is not enough reason for me to believe that there is sufficient Constitutional authority for the Fed. to give us an individual mandate for healthcare, as I don't believe I've seen the Fed's power to institute or regulate national health standards on an individual level presented in any Article or Amendment to the Constitution itself.

Posted by: OfConservativeMind | March 26, 2010 5:32 AM | Report abuse

I will gladly accept your criticisms, as they will help me in my quest for knowledge and my path to understanding Conservatism.

Posted by: OfConservativeMind | March 26, 2010 5:42 AM | Report abuse

OfConservativeMind,

"I argue that citing the Second Militia act of 1791 alone is not enough reason for me to believe that there is sufficient Constitutional authority for the Fed. to give us an individual mandate for healthcare, as I don't believe I've seen the Fed's power to institute or regulate national health standards on an individual level presented in any Article or Amendment to the Constitution itself."

OK, your legal argument is WHAT exactly?

Like I have said, the Constitution does not state you have a right to wear a green shirt or own a dog. But you have those rights, don't you agree?

I cite the 1791 legislation as a clear example that the framers were comfortable with a mandate to purchase private products, and you do not dipute that.

You need to say specifically what provision in the Constitution prevents the federal government from taxing you that small ($691) amount, with an automatic exemption if you are insured.

The Constitution does not need to anticipate and name health insurance (or anything else), in order for it to guide legislation on that subject. There is ample precedent for the authority in the HCR law, amd legal challenges will simply waste your tax dollars and mine.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 26, 2010 5:56 AM | Report abuse

"I will gladly accept your criticisms, as they will help me in my quest for knowledge and my path to understanding Conservatism."

Likewise I am glad to hear any thoughts with substantial validity to cause me to rethink my own opinions. I sometimes encounter such conservative opnions elsewhere. An honest exchange of ideas is the only reason I am here, so I very much respect your thoughts, OfConservativeMind

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 26, 2010 6:03 AM | Report abuse

Also, OfConservativeMind, the topic of Ezra's thread is David Frum's firing from the AEI, and what that firing means for future acceptance of reasonable debate within the contemporary conservative movment and within the modern Republican party.

So your thoughts on that topic will be perhaps be even more welcome than on the topic of the Second Militia act of 1791.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 26, 2010 6:24 AM | Report abuse

I admire your intellectual honesty, Patrick_M. I must say, your logical arguments seem fairly solid to me. I cannot, as of this moment, come up with a thoughtful response regarding a legal basis for my earlier comments. More education on my part is definitely required.

On the other more relevant note regarding this thread, while I haven't had much exposure to Frum and his ideas, I must say that it seems he got a raw deal here with the AEI.

Posted by: OfConservativeMind | March 26, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

"But whatever interest there was in making the outcome of this legislative process more conservative, it was swamped by the interest in making the outcome more Republican."

That's a very good way to put it.

As much as I like David Frum's blog, I'm not buying what he's selling too much. He makes a lot of noise about conservative soul searching, etc, but his policy ideas and reading of recent history are straight party-line. There's some intellectual dishonesty there.

He's no Bruce Bartlett, IOW. Nonetheless, David Frum is a welcome voice in terms of changing the atmospherics, if nothing else.

Posted by: roquelaure_79 | March 26, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

What you need to learn from this David is, the Republicans don't care about you any more than they care about the American people, which is pretty much not at all. Maybe now you understand a little better why Democrats want all of the Republicans out, they are self centered and destructive, in it only for themselves.

Posted by: Hillary08 | March 26, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

They didn't exactly fire Frum. They changed his pay status to "zero." This is what happens if you speak true to conservatives today and this is what is on the way to destoying what was once a "Grand Old Party."

Posted by: withersb | March 26, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

@msoja: "Just remember, when the whole thing crashes, you were up to your narrow eyebrows talking about "policy" to control your fellow man."

Well, technically, having a left and right side to the road is a "policy to control our fellow men" and force them to, you know, stay on the other side of the road when they are driving the other way. Oppressive, I know, but . . .

Policy also encompasses doing things like lowering taxes and decreasing regulation. How do those things control our fellow men? Policy can involve beefing up defense, supporting a missile shield program . . . do those things control our fellow men?

Just curious. And, FWIW, the Republicans can run an eggplant in 2012 and I'll vote for it. So you know where I'm coming from.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 26, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

withersb: "They changed his pay status to 'zero.' This is what happens if you speak true to conservatives today and this is what is on the way to destoying what was once a 'Grand Old Party.'"

Or if they just don't want to pay you. Which has happened to me, and had nothing to do with speaking truth to power. They just didn't want to pay me. Tough times and all that.

And in regards to destroying the GOP, the AEI is a conservative advocacy organization, not the GOP. If there's a distinction between AlterNet and the Democratic Party, then there's a distinction between AEI and National Review and the GOP.

I kind of suspect it's a non-political issue. Frum just wasn't doing his part to boost Fox news's ratings. Or stroke the egos of the Fox news execs.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 26, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I suppose raising 600 billion in taxes is conservative also. You mention cutting 500 billion out of Medicare as being conservative but you totally blow off Paul Ryan's argument about double counting those funds first as a way of shoring up Medicare but then turning around and spending the money to fund a whole new gigantic federal entitlement program. Ezra keeps saying over and over again how conservative Obamacare is but no ones buying it because the only way it's conservative is by looking at it from his extreme left wing view. His perspective is that anything short of single payer if conservative. The plan of this Obamacare is really conservative mantra is to defuse the anger out there in the country so that the Republicans don't take over congress this fall and do major damage to Ezra's cherished Obamacare before it's "benefits" kick in.

Posted by: RobT1 | March 26, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

The American Enterprise Institute is one of the dinosaurs which is on it's way to the dust heap. It is sad that the Republican Party and the neo-cons can not recognize that they are due for cleansing and when a member of their group speaks true to power, they should listen.

Posted by: gilbertpb40 | March 26, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Patrick_M, re: Andrew Sullivan:

If you're actually a conservative you don't endorse (and fawn over, and vote for) the guy that was ranked as the most liberal senator in 2007 buy the National Journal. There are other alternatives, including endorsing nobody and not voting. The same goes with Kerry. You can argue that you support X. and Y. conservative positions, but when you vote for, and endorse (and fawn over) the presidential candidate with the most liberal voting record with a record of saying very liberal things (to the point that conservative pundits wishing to attack Obama as a socialist have to keep going back to the things he said before he started his presidential campaign, cuz that's where the juicy stuff is) then you aren't particularly serious about those positions. In my opinion.

I have nothing against a wealth tax. I think we should have some for of wealth tax that taxes accumulated wealth like property is currently taxed. I support an end to the war on drugs, and the legalization of marijuana to put it in parity with tobacco or alcohol. I'm a big fan of infrastructure spending, and think the WPA is the way to go as far as government spending in a down economy goes. I like the inclusion of nutrition information in restaurant menus, as a mandate, in HCR. I love the space program, and I think there are thousands of things that the government is best suited for doing. I love the national parks, and support only such "spoilage" as that gives citizens some access to experience them. I like signage laws, laws that restrict visual and noise pollution, efforts to restrict junk mail and spam and unsolicited telephone calls. And I mentioned NASA, right? The Interstate system, and the expansion thereof. Government grants for super-colliders. I support the arts. Government sponsored daycare. I could go on.

Does that make me a liberal? Cuz, if so, then I'm a charter member of liberals voting against Democrats. When the rubber meets the road, I vote for the most conservative candidate likely to win the office. This is usually the Republican. Not always, but usually. My views on drug legalization, wealth taxes, menu labeling and so on not withstanding.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 26, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I am surprised Frum slipped up. Anyone who works for Fox knows that they MUST follow the script. The 24/7 Republican talking points station has strict guidelines that all employees must follow. The Beck's, Hannity's, etc don't mind because they are making so much money off of confusing their followers. Laughing all the way to the bank!!!!

Posted by: pgmichigan | March 26, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

When Bush was President, the Democrats failed miserably to meet their responsibility to us, the people, to mount an effective, constructive opposition. Now, the Republicans are failing spectacularly to do the job, too. And we get to pay for those ongoing failures, just so both parties can take turns at the public trough. Disgusting.

Posted by: Fred34 | March 26, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Kevin -

Ok, I have asked about Sullivan and issues/policy three times and you continue to come back with Sullivan flunking your Bush-Cheney-McCain-Palin litmus test, so I give up on the policy question.

As you say, if the Republicans are running an eggplant (Palin) you will vote for her, simply on the basis of whether her National Journal conservative "score" is a point higher than her non-eggplant opponent. And that methodology of decision making for commander-in-chief is what makes you a true conservative, I guess.

Methinks they welcome that sort of thinking at AEI right now, and there is an empty office just waiting for the right guy or gal.

Seriously, drop by the library (I know, msoja would call the library a tyrannical socialist institution that enslaves him) and check out "The Conservative Soul." It is a very good read, even if you disagree with much of it.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 26, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

soggy the Randroid is a manly, manly man, as he'll tell you ad nauseam.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | March 26, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"I kind of suspect it's a non-political issue. Frum just wasn't doing his part to boost Fox news's ratings. Or stroke the egos of the Fox news execs."

Kevin,

I beg to differ. If it was anything other than the "Waterloo" post, AEI would have delayed the decision by a few weeks, so that people would not connect those dots.

The timing of this is prurposeful, and tells you all you need to know.

Gotta love the language in Frum's "resignation" -

"I appreciate the consideration that delays my emptying of my office until after my return from travel next week. Premises will be vacated no later than April 9.

I have had many fruitful years at the American Enterprise Institute, and I do regret this abrupt and unexpected conclusion of our relationship."

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 26, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

As a Canadian, does David Frum get government run health care? What about those 19 Republican senators on Medicare?

Posted by: scottilla | March 26, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

In order for the Republicans to do any "soul searching" it would require them to have a soul. They have plainly demonstrated that they do not have one or anything closely related to one. They have rejected their sworn duty to work FOR the American people, in favor of becoming the "Regressive" Republican Party. They prefer to stick their heads in a hole rather than listen to a reasonable Republican voice. ANYONE who does not agree with them is their enemy and must be purged from their Party. Abraham Lincoln would not have been allowed to stay in office if these naysayers had their way. He is surely spinning in his grave over the state of HIS party and what they have turned it into, lo, these past 40 years. I. myself was a registered Republican until they nominated Ronald Reagan. A "B" Actor! Not even a "Spencer Tracy", Ronald Reagan! I knew then that the Republicans had caught the wrong Bus, so I put away childish things and began to listen and read more about the Political Process. In other words, I grew and began to see things in a different light. The Republicans are strictly for themselves, "I'm up, pull up the rope". I felt that this Country is too great to be trusted to the elite among us and that if you "give a man a fish, he eats for a day but if you TEACH a man to fish, he can eat for a lifetime". So I guess their are givers in this world and their are takers. I think the Republicans are takers. They grab up the best for themselves and let a few crumbs fall from their table to the rest of us. Hopefully those days are over.

Posted by: billnbillieskid | March 26, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Good post Ezra. And I agree with you on Wyden-Bennett. That would have been the real reform we needed instead of the hairball we ended up with.

Steve

Posted by: FatTriplet3 | March 26, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

It's like in chess -- in a short time after a failed attack, the attacker's position is seen to be rife with weaknesses, and the strength of the counterattack is redoubled. Ask Lasker.

Posted by: johnnormansp | March 27, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

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