David Frum says The Thing That Is

Frum on oligarchy, heath care, and scandalmania: when will he notice there’s no baby in the GOP bathwater?

In his farewell-for-now post:

I’m not so worried that the oligarchs will pay for apologetics on their behalf. That’s politics as usual. I’m more concerned that so many people will identify themselves with the interests of oligarchy without being paid, without even being conscious that this is what they are doing.

The whole thing is worth reading. Frum gets it right on income distribution, health care, the environment, and scandalmania. I understand his reluctance to depart from his team, but at some point he may notice that there’s no longer a baby anywhere in the Republican bathwater.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

13 thoughts on “David Frum says The Thing That Is”

  1. Even a blind squirrel gathers a few nuts…
    And the nuts Frum gathers here can be smelled from a distance, they are so over-ripe.

    1. Not sure I understand your comment. Who are the “nuts” that Frum gathers? You’re not making a substantive point about what Frum said–just snark that’s too opaque, or too abstruse, to be clear.

  2. So let’s see here. Conservatives:
    1)Are taxaphobic to the point of crashing the gov/economy/infrastucture/world as we know it.
    2)Support policies that only help the rich get richer and screw everbody else.
    3)Refuse to accept what every serious scientist on the planet sees as proven fact, that man made climate change is the most serious crisis the human race has ever faced.
    4)Refuse to do anything about or care about the US rolling nightmare that passes for a healthcare system and are bound and determined to monkey wrench the midlin effort that the Democrats got by them.
    5)Are so anti-Obama that they rave like mad dogs at the mention of his name, would throw their own mothers down a well if he had a good thing to say about them and will try to impeach him on the general principal that ‘There just shouldn’t be no back man in the White House!’ Of course Clinton wasn’t black but that is ancient history, right?
    Other than all that, things are just peachy over on the right side.

  3. There are plenty of republicans who support decent things every now and then. They’re called “moderate democrats”.

  4. I think that Frum has long ago recognized that there is no baby in the Republican bathwater. Frum is a conservative as the term was understood before William F. Buckley. Think Peter Viereck, or Michael Oakeshott or even Russell Kirk in his less dogmatic moments.

    From the perspective of such a conservative, the Democrats are frequently right on the issues, but generally for the wrong reasons. They are attracted to some Republican poetry, but are often repelled by Republican prose.

  5. I hope that academics, politicians and journalists, and so forth, actually have a solid grasp on just how frenzied is the mood out among the mass of Fox News listeners.

    Talk to people. Talk to your plumber perhaps,or roofer, or to your uncle, perhaps, or to the guys waiting for repairs or new tires at the local garage. Get them to open up about how they feel about Obama, and about the state of things, and, I’m telling you, Fox News has done a number on these guys, big time. Yeah, you say you already know this. But have you actually gotten some of these guys to open up so you can get a real feel for the depth of the feeling? They are frenzied. (I’d say frenzied or almost frenzied.) They are convinced, utterly, that Obama is about to betray us and destroy America. These guys are a.n.g.r.y., and they KNOW! that what Fox and Limbaugh and the rest have said is “God’s Truth.” They can go on and on, for a half hour or more, telling you wild stories about what Obama is going to do to America. They’re stocking up on guns and ammo. They tell stories of long lines at the ammo store.

    It’ll blow your mind listening. I just hope we’re on top of this mood. It’s just, wow.

    1. Donald flipping Rumsfeld said on camera the other day that he’s not sure whether Obama is siding with America or with Al Qaeda. Rumsfeld is not the most credible person on the face of the earth, but he’s Establishment (or was), and he’s not some cheeto-encrusted shut-in trolling the internet, nor some shock jock desperate to gin up the outrage and keep the sheep tuning in, in order to cover the mortgage.

      This wasn’t some guerrilla video – this was the official event videotape, posted to the hosting organization’s website. This even though Obama is regularly criticized from the left and from libertarians for the drone war, for meddling in Libya and possibly Syria, and for insufficient zeal in his failed effort to close Gitmo.

    2. You are absolutely right on. Being retired and living full-time and traveling in an RV, we spend a lot of time socializing with others who live a similar life-style either full or part time. We know people from a wide variety of career backgrounds, from former college-educated professionals to skilled craftsmen to managers to technical wizards, business owners and blue-collar workers to clerks to jacks-of-all-trades. And maybe because of the age group (generally mid-50s on up, though there are some younger as well) or other demographic factors I can’t identify, most of them are rabid right-wingers. Sometimes I am stunned by the level of political ignorance (and anyone who gets their information solely from Rush and Fox and Glen Beck can only be called ignorant) on the part of otherwise intelligent and often fairly well-educated people. They think of themselves as informed voters, as patriotic, as staunch defenders of old-fashioned “values.” They made good lives for themselves and now have a little money put away. They love them their SS and Medicare, and many of their former jobs wouldn’t have existed but for “government” in some form, nor would they or their children have had the middle-class educations and lives they had without all the contributions of governments. But somehow this ugly right-wing worm has penetrated their brains and they can’t see that. You can’t touch their beliefs with facts from any source(s). They are impervious to information that doesn’t correspond with what their media sources feed them and which they have come to believe down to the core of their beings.

      And those same people of my generation, many of whom seem to place importance on the courtesies we were (supposedly) taught growing up, don’t hesitate to toss out comments in any group which are guaranteed to offend anyone who doesn’t think like they do, or to send unsolicited, hateful, and inaccurate emails to anyone whose email address they obtain. Interestingly enough, I never receive those types of emails from any of my progressive friends, nor do they blurt out potentially offensive statements in mixed groups.

      The whole thing just blows me away. I sometimes wonder what they would be like, what their opinions would be, and where they would stand on politics and individual issues if that far right-wing media had never existed. How much brain-washing does it accomplish? Would they actually find out real facts and base their opinions on them?

      I can only hope that the generations following depend less on those particular media sources (or on TV “news” in general) and more on a variety of Internet sources which allow you to find out in depth what the actual facts of a matter are, as well as getting opinions from across the spectrum from thoughtful observers.

    3. I am entirely done with these crazy folk. I simply no longer care about their opinions. I bet a lot of Americans feel the same way. They can rant all they want and stockpile weapons and so on, but most of us think they’re out of their minds. So why do we even pay attention to them?

      I’m ready to get back to making America great, moving forward and forgetting about these bitter people.

      1. This is about right. As a therapist here in Texas I get to see the core of the right wing mindset, and it’s as deeply entrenched as in any good, patriotic German or Russian in 1933. The amount of time and energy necessary to shifting this is prohibitive; not impossible but ultimately not worth the effort. I know that’s a harsh statement, but there it is. What’s somewhat surprising is that the 18-25 year olds, although ostensibly ‘conservative’, are nowhere near as uninformed and intransigent. There’s no doubt that a generation of ‘normal folks’ got captured by ruthless exploitation of decline of empire and economic uncertainty; it also seems as though their grandchildren are either 1) waking up, or 2) functionally marginalized. History and economics might be forcing what “Matt” posits – a structural dismissal of the ridiculous.

  6. Frum:

    There will be a Republican president again someday, and that president will need American political institutions to work. Republicans also lose as those institutions degenerate.

    Frum doesn’t bother much with an appeal to “country first” patriotism does he? Instead he goes straight for what he thinks is the Republican gut: an appeal to self-interest. But he gets his anatomy wrong. His appeal to the gut is really a rabbit punch to an inert kidney. Republican extremism, like all extremism, isn’t informed by self-interest. So basically, Frum has put on a wool shirt here and is bleating sweet nothings at wolves. The real question is: What is it that informs Republican extremism?

    Whatever it is: Against it conservative reformers (like Frum) contend in vain.

    And it is here to stay. True we may be past peak crazy. But peak crazy owns many a State House and has gerrymandered the future to its favor. What we see now, we may well have to live with for a decade. The CAVE people (citizens against virtually everything) are entrenched. It’s going to be a while before they relinquish. The only solution I see is to dig in with Hillary in 2016 and wait them out.

    1. I don’t think we are past peak crazy.

      Who are all these green shoot righties that Frum seems optimistic about?
      Who on the right has emerged in 2013 that kindles hope in Frum?
      I’m not seeing it.

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