David Frum is a conservative thinker for whom I have long had respect. He's cut out of the Bill Kristol/David Brooks mold of intellectual thinkers, and he's got a wide-ranging field of view. And today, he was fired from his position at the American Enterprise Institute. Some say it was retribution for a weekend blogpost entitled "Waterloo" in which he takes the Republican Party to task for its intransigence in the healthcare battle, and warns of consequences to be paid.
In The Corner, National Review's irreplaceable blog, the irreplaceable Jay Nordlinger (along with Mona Charen) write posts in defense of David Frum. They cite his long history of conservative thinking, his service in the Bush Administration, and his general bonhomie. I take a backseat to no one in my judgment of Jay Nordlinger's good judgment (and bonhomie for that matter), but Frum's offense here isn't one of history--it's one of incredibly bad analysis. Read the Waterloo blog entry again--and then ask yourself if it comports with your memory of recent history. President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid never considered Republican support of any real importance--why? Because as Frum aptly put it--they didn't need it. Frum's assertion that Obama "badly" wanted Republican support is zany--he badly wanted Republican support for Democratic ideas. It wasn't just Rush and Beck who were complaining that Republican ideas were being left out of early proposals--it was the ADULTS in the Republican party. There were serious, serious policy differences between Republicans and Democrats. That Frum can now point to a bill that he believes is insubstantially different than past Republican ideas is a direct RESULT of the kind of insurgent movement among Republicans and others that Frum now seems to rail against. Without it, we would have a far different bill. And let's also not forget--it was SPLITS IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY that kept the fight going as long as it did--these were splits largely aided and abetted by people more in line with what Republicans were thinking.
Do I think this bad analysis was a firing offense? No. Do I think his body of work is defensible? Absolutely. Do I think this blog entry was? Absolutely not.