Friday 26 March 2010

Frum moves on

On Tuesday, I posted David Frum's very nice op-ed warning the GOP about being taken over by the loonier parts of its base.

Thursday's Washington Post brings Anne Applebaum to second Frum's warnings.
And now, my fellow disappointed conservatives, former conservatives and disgusted conservatives, it is time for all good Republicans to come to the defense of David Frum, and to endorse his critique of radical right-wing talk-show rhetoric. If you've left the party in disgust, then call up your friends who are still members and get them to do it for you.

I am not writing this because David Frum is my friend, although he is. I am writing this because I was recently in London, where I got a close-up look at the state of the British Conservative Party, once the intellectual motor of free-market economics in Europe and the rest of the world. After almost two decades in power, the British conservatives lost, in 1997, to Tony Blair's slicker, smoother, Labor Party -- a party that had accepted the basic premises of Thatcherism and then moved on.

At the time, the Tories reckoned they would be in opposition for a couple of years at most: All they had to do was return to their basic principles and declare them with greater fervor and more self-righteous anger than ever before. They knew what the British people really wanted, they told one another, and ran two angry campaigns that reeked of xenophobia. The result: The Tories have been out of power since 1997. Thirteen years.
And now Frum's been fired from AEI. AEI always seemed the DC conservative think tank most worried about keeping its folks on-message, so it shouldn't come as particular surprise.

Update: Tunku Varadarajan weighs in, arguing there was no possible compromise so staying pure had no downside. I'd buy this if the GOP ever had been pure on health care, but when Krugman called them out asking the GOP to say where they'd make cuts to make Medicare sustainable, I didn't hear much.
In fact, conservatives have backed away from spending cuts they themselves proposed in the past. In the 1990s, for example, Republicans in Congress tried to force through sharp cuts in Medicare. But now they have made opposition to any effort to spend Medicare funds more wisely the core of their campaign against health care reform (death panels!). And presidential hopefuls say things like this, from Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota: “I don’t think anybody’s gonna go back now and say, Let’s abolish, or reduce, Medicare and Medicaid.”
So the status quo level of state intervention in health care was somehow a morally pure position that needed defending against Obama's increased level of state intervention in health care? Hmm.

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