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David Frum Continues to Promote Big Government Conservatism

September 30, 2009

A number of NewsRealblog posts have recently taken David Frum to task because of his criticisms of Glenn Beck and his (Frum’s) quest to “rebrand conservatism.”

Frum appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Tuesday to talk about his “new conservative brand,” where conservatism went wrong, and how to redefine conservative ideology so Republicans can win elections again.

The not-so-suprising conclusion: social conservatives should be told to take a hike; fiscal conservatives and libertarian conservatives must “accept” that Americans “want” more government interference (an assumption based on his own preferences instead of on polls); and the GOP must be less aggressive on the issue of immigration. The only aspect of conservatism Frum wants to keep is a hawkish foreign policy.

Arianna Huffington joined the conversation later on and told Frum she strongly supported his efforts to reform the GOP.

Nice. Everyone likes to receive a compliment, right?

Well, yes, but a compliment from Huffington should have set Frum’s alarm bells off. She is a rabid, anti-conservative, partisan Democrat who longs for a permanent Democratic majority in Congress. What more does the founder of the New Majority need to know, before he realizes that his recent efforts hurt rather than help the conservative movement?

Listening to Frum speak, you’d get the impression that conservatives are an endangered species. But in fact, conservative books are selling like hot cakes. Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny, Michelle Malkin’s Culture of Corruption, and Glenn Beck’s Common Sense are best-sellers because Americans long for authentic conservative voices at a time when leftists have taken over the U.S. government.

As most members of the self-anointed intellectual elite, Morning Joe‘s crew doesn’t quite understand that distrust of government is deeply ingrained in American culture and history. Democrats didn’t take back the House, the Senate and the White House because voters suddenly fell in love with leftist ideology or out of love with conservatism, but because Republicans failed to deliver on their promise to cut government and to keep it out of people’s lives. It was not conservatism, but politicians who falsely identified themselves as conservatives, that earned the distrust of the electorate.

The actual problem in this debate isn’t related to conservatism but to Frum’s inability to identify the real problem. Instead of marginalizing powerful conservative voices, Frum should build them up and explain that conservatism is far from dead; in fact, it’s more alive now than at any time since the 1980s.

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10 Comments
  1. Mark permalink
    September 30, 2009 8:20 am

    Thank you Michael, and welcome to the Newsreal community. I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of Frum. He has consistently championed this absurd idea that conservatism needs to be redefined. No, it doesn’t. Frum and his ilk got EXACTLY what they wanted with the nomination of John McCain, and we see where that got the Republican Party. Now this same group of pseudo-conservatives, with whom I would include Bill Kristol, David Brooks, Peggy Noonan, and sometimes even Charles Krauthammer, wants to disregard this obvious rebuke to their flawed ideas and press on with the notion that we conservatives need to be more civil and well-mannered. Poppycock. I can’t quite understand what motivates this group. They would have Colin Powell as the new spokesman for conservatism, playing right into the hands of the left. What the hell are they thinking? As David Horowitz has repeatedly pointed out to his consternation and ours, Republicans and conservatives in general simply don’t understand political warfare. They don’t. So when they attempt to throw some of our most potent political forces under the bus, or marginalize them – as they continue to attempt with Sarah Palin, THEY are the ones doing conservatism a serious disservice.

  2. Mark permalink
    September 30, 2009 8:24 am

    Thank you Michael, and welcome to the Newsreal community. I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of Frum. He has consistently championed this absurd idea that conservatism needs to be redefined. No, it doesn’t. Frum and his ilk got EXACTLY what they wanted with the nomination of John McCain, and we see where that got the Republican Party. Now this same group of pseudo-conservatives, with whom I would include Bill Kristol, David Brooks, Peggy Noonan, and sometimes even Charles Krauthammer, wants to disregard this obvious rebuke to their flawed ideas and press on with the notion that we conservatives need to be more civil and well-mannered. Poppycock. I can’t quite understand what motivates this group. They would have Colin Powell as the new spokesman for conservatism, playing right into the hands of the left. What the hell are they thinking? As David Horowitz has repeatedly pointed out to his consternation and ours, Republicans and conservatives in general simply don’t understand political warfare. They don’t. So when they attempt to throw some of our most potent political forces under the bus, or marginalize them – as they continue to attempt with Sarah Palin, THEY are the ones doing conservatism a serious disservice.

  3. jbtrevor permalink
    September 30, 2009 9:24 am

    Actually Frum’s problem is not being able “identify” at all. Having left the cocoon of the Bush White House, he’s finding it difficult to find a place and unfortunately a talented writer is circling the drain of irrelevance. Who knows, maybe that ‘s a good thing.

  4. September 30, 2009 12:21 pm

    ‘Circling the Drain of Irrelevance’…

    Who told Pres. GWBush to verbalize the silly idea that to save the free market system he, Bush, had to abandon free market principles? Was that Frum, or one of the other guys in the White House cocoon?

    Recently we find out that Frum had big time company in the White House cocoon, and that Pres. GWBush also did not really appreciate ‘those conservatives’ in the Republican Party…

    So, does ‘those conservatives’ include Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham et al… and by extension Ronald Reagan and ‘we the people’… whom Pres. GWBush did not appreciate?

    Maybe David Frum can fill us in on this recent revelation about Pres. GWBush’s true feelings about conservatives… before Frum and Bush go down the drain of irrelevance.

  5. Michael van der Galien permalink
    September 30, 2009 12:47 pm

    Thank you very much Mark!

    Yes, we agree on that part of the debate. That does not mean conservatism doesn’t have any problems: it does. First and foremost the individuals who profess to adhere to conservative values but who forget that the very moment they take office.

    But there is more wrong with the conservative movement in America, I believe: articulation. Having a good, positive message and clear, understandable conservative policy plans AND (this is a Major issue nowadays, in my humble opinion) communicating those plans with the public. American conservatives have to relearn the art of explaining why conservative policies are good for EVERYbody. And then, once in power, they will have to actually implement those specific plans and CUT the size of government, instead of merely stalling its growth. If they do not, voters will fall for fake moderate Dems like Obama time and again.

    Lastly: if Frum would just call for more creativity in order for conservatives to develop policies that deal with todays problems, people would be wise to listen to him.

    Bur that isnt what hes saying. He wants you guys to redefine the principles that form the foundation of Anglo-Saxon conservatism. And that, it seems to me, is a tragic mistake because those principles arent some nice and fancy ideas but laws that govern the universe.

    Unless Frum can change natural law itself, his attempts to redefine American conservatism arent just in vain but even counterproductive.

    • Mark J. Koenig permalink
      September 30, 2009 4:21 pm

      No argument with you there, Michael.

  6. Walt permalink
    October 11, 2009 12:05 am

    David Frum is about as much of a conservative as David Brooks or Andrew Sullivan. His prescription for the Republican Party is to be more like the Democratic Party, only not as much. It is a dispiriting and inane message to be giving. If someone genuinely felt the way David Frum felt, I would suggest that they join the Democratic Party, rather than join a fraudulent organization, such as New Majority. Maybe, Mr. Frum could find a job with Media Matters.

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