And, I must say, it looks good on him.
Our very own and not sadly missed David Frum (b. Toronto, June 30, 1960) is making a name for himself as the prominent neo-con most often shown the door in the past decade.
First it was his wife's indiscretion, while Frum was a Bush II speechwriter, in exhorting friends to watch the next State of the Union because Bush II's "Axis of Evil" construction in that address was a product of her husband's fertile mind. (Correction, for the umpteenth time: Frum wrote that Iraq, Iran and North Korea constituted an "axis of hatred." It was chief WH speechwriter Michael Gerson who ratcheted up Frum's words into an ill-considered jihad.) A cardinal rule of speechwriting, especially for politicos, is that the ghost never takes credit. So David was soon told his services were no longer required at 1600 Pennslyvania Ave. It was as speedy an exit as that of a self-important WH protocol director gently eased out this week. a decent interval after her monstrous error in allowing an uninvited couple within assassination distance not only of the U.S. president but an Indian PM feted at the Obamas' first state dinner.
After the G.O.P.'s 2008 loss of the White House, by a near-landslide, and further losses on the Hill (after losing both houses in 2006), a candid Frum navel-gazed on the G.O.P.'s grotesque errors leading up to the loss. (Palin was merely one of them). Such apostasy cost a surprised Frum his longtime perch at the hard-right National Review, the late William Buckley's reactionary opinion journal.
Frum's similarly candid assessment of the self-inflicted injuries by which the G.O.P. lost the healthcare-reform battle earlier this month, in a viral essay titled 'Waterloo," has now cost Frum his handsome $100,000- plus-healthcare-benefits sinecure as a "fellow" at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the most influential right-wing think tank.
One might feel a scintilla of sympathy for the Frumster except that he was a zealous leader of purist purges before falling victim to them.
In the lead-up to the ill-advised U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Frum lit into Pat Buchanan and other "paleolithic" conservatives - roughly speaking, predecessors of the neo-cons who are nativist, isolationist and not a little anti-Semitic. Frum served notice that this ageing crowd of Goldwater- and Nixon-era conservatives who recognized a looming epic foreign-policy blunder when they saw one were herewith no longer members of the elite of Right-Thinking People to which Frum belonged, and were forging the vision that would define America in 21st century.
That the paleos were unpatriotic - for failing to see the wisdom of the neocons' shining vision in the Mideast-was the least of their sins, Frum wrote in National Review back in March 2003:
They began by hating the neoconservatives. They came to hate their party and this president [George W. Bush.] They have finished by hating their country.
War is a great clarifier. It forces people to take sides. The paleoconservatives have chosen -- and the rest of us must choose too. In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on their country. Now we turn our backs on them.
Frum accurately reflected the comptemporary view of Iraq-war cheerleaders of the time - Niall Ferguson, Max Boot, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Margaret MacMillan, George F. Will and the rest of that rabble. They believed, and repeated ad nauseum: If you dislike Bush II's war of choice on a soverign nation posing no threat to the U.S., in contravention of the founding principles of the U.N., or the planned inadequate number of troops to pull the thing off successfully, you hated America. That took real chutzpah, deciding who was and wasn't a "real" American, coming from a recent immigrant. As I wrote at the time, it was quite astonishing how large a portion of those urging bloodlust on Americans were not, er, Americans, but were enjoying a vicarious imperialist wet dream no longer possible for the likes of Ferguson's native Britain.
Obviously, the paleos were right and Frum was wrong. Dead Wrong, to make a play of Frum's Dead Right, a bestselling handbook on how the G.O.P. could turn itself around, sadly ignored by the G.O.P. powers that be of the time. And so Frum has his share of the blood of 200,000-plus dead Iraqi civilians and more than 4,000 U.S. troops on his hands, although his taxable income has recently shrunk, so he'll be paying even less than his rightful share of the $1-trillion-plus cost U.S. taxpayers of the worse than wasted effort in Iraq that he so relentlessly pimped.
Keep this up and you'll have need of that dual citizenship, Mr. F.