Right & Left: Whose Talk is Worse?

January 13th, 2011 at 11:15 am David Frum | 133 Comments |

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The discussion of the Tucson shooting has turned into a debate between the left and the right over whose political rhetoric is more harmful. As my latest column for The Week points out, there are important lessons for both sides in this discussion.

“Promote violence? Us? What about you?”

The political conversation since the Tucson massacre has been dominated by a ferocious attack and counter-attack, as right and left deploy competing narratives of victimhood. Sarah Palin’s gun-sights map is matched by the Democratic Senatorial Committee’s 2004 bullseye map. Did a Tea Partier step on a protester’s head at a Rand Paul rally? What about the Tea Partier who was allegedly knocked over by union guys at a town hall in St. Louis?

You may find this competition for supreme victimhood annoying and ultimately useless. Yet there are some vital truths embedded in the conversation.

Truth 1: It’s important to be clear about what the problem is. The problem is not military metaphors. It’s not Glenn Beck joking about poisoning Nancy Pelosi’s wine or Paul Krugman hanging Joe Lieberman in effigy at a party.

The problem, rather, is the construction of paranoid narratives that might justify violence to a violent-minded person. When scruffy protesters drew swastikas on photographs of President George W. Bush, that was obnoxious. It was not likely to incite anyone. But when eminent persons argued on the public airwaves that the United States had been lied into a frustrating war in Iraq by a cabal of Jewish conspirators? That’s a very different matter.

Likewise, it’s grossly ill mannered for a member of the House to shout “You lie!” at a president during a State of the Union address. Yet the republic staggered on somehow regardless. What does do damage to the fabric of democracy is the charge made by prominent conservative broadcasters that the president is deliberately wrecking the U.S. economy to advance his scheme to overthrow the constitution and transform the nation into a Marxist or Leninist or even Maoist tyranny. …

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133 Comments so far ↓

  • jorae

    “My fellow Republicans, our cause is too great for any man to feel worthy of it.”
    Per BENNET…

    What does that mean?

    The “Cause” is America…and the problems have been established.

    Do you want to come back to earth and figure out the problems?

    No job…Due to the trickled down of the housing industry…no job…due to things like Apple paying $236.00 a month to put together an Ipod that sells for $800.

    You need to come back down to earth. The problems have been the demonization of the Citizens of America…The corporations fired the people.

    The problem has been SELLING YOU THE LIES…The basic topic of this thread….Throw mud….And who has done it best?

  • Steve D

    Jorae, where did you pay $800 for an iPod?

    Why don’t you come back down to earth and write us a coherent comment?

  • WillyP

    “Economic Marxism is actually the basis for a lot of policies that are typically advanced by the contemporary Republican Party. ”

    Such as what? I understand well the difference between Marxist histories and Marxist economic prescription (if they can be called that). Supply-side economics, while generally a good program, does have its elements of silliness, such as the belief that artificially lowering interest rates will spur recovery. But it isn’t “Marxist” in any sense!

    When I choose to describe our president as a Marxist, I have in mind his incessant class warfare, his demonization of business and its executives, his knee-jerk reaction to intervene where he sees a problem rather than let the market sort it out, and his street rabble rousing to encourage the poorer among us to reclaim (through “lawful,” though hardly moral, seizure) what now belongs to the “rich.” You add this in with his background as a “community organizer” and his former associates (the domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, the Liberation Theologist Jeremiah Wright, the Communist of Hawaii Frank Mayer, those “Marxist professors” he used to pal around with, his socialist father) and the picture is complete.

    Are we supposed to believe he dropped this deeply held convictions overnight when he was elected president?

  • WillyP

    pnumi,
    “No Willy, If you have to tack a name onto Hitler, it would be Lord High Defender of Old German Conservative Families. The Krupp family got its start in the 16th century.”

    This is propaganda if I ever saw any. What reputable historian would ever write such a ridiculous title?

    Hitler was a street thug, not a nobleman. If you had to tack a name to him, it would be genocidal emperor, statist supreme. He was, in the struggles of the Weimar, a Nationalist (i.e. somebody who believe the German “race” – or at least those who spolke German – should rule the world). Hitler was Hitler and if you disagreed with Hitler you weren’t a Nazi. This doesn’t make for a conservative or a supporter of the German nobility, but a ruthless mob Godfather of absurd proportion.

    Then again, I should remember that the left has taken an apolitical mass murder scene and found a way to blame Limbaugh, Beck, and – above all – Sarah Palin. Nothing should really surprise me anymore.

  • Watusie

    WillyP “his knee-jerk reaction to intervene where he sees a problem rather than let the market sort it out”
    You mean like TARP and the automaker bailouts?

    “an apolitical mass murder scene”
    She was a politician. At a constituency event. Laughner said his intention was to “assassinate” her. She was the first one shot.

    OK, now you give me four reasons why I should consider it “apolitical”.

  • Chris Balsz

  • pnumi2

    willy
    I don’t claim to be a reputable historian as you claim to be an expert on everything. Humor, which is sadly absent in conservative discourse, is what I strive for and all of it seems to go flying over your head.
    There is no difference between where the Nazi Party took Germany by the end of WWII and where the American conservative party would take this country if given the opportunity.

    The old conservative families of the 1930′s in Germany were as supportive of Hitler as today’s conservatives are supportive of Palin. Today’s conservatives are behind anyone who can muster the support to defend the conservative’s past and defend the continuation of their life style.

    Remember this, willy, just because you say something doesn’t make it true.

  • kevin47

    “Both Franco and Hitler wanted to destroy the communists. That makes them conservative.”

    No. Ideological conservatism is context dependent. Within their respective contexts, both Franco and Hitler were progressive, drafting new Constitutions, using governmental power to leverage new findings in science, centralizing power and the like. That doesn’t mean that all progressives are like Hitler. Some of them are like Stalin. Others are like LBJ (who, I should emphasize, was nothing like Hitler, Stalin, or Franco).

    “In many ways, “Supply-Side Economics” and policies that focus on the growth of the small business sector, etc. are a direct consequence of economic theories which have their basis in Marx’s analysis.”

    By your definition, all of economics has its basis in Marx’s analysis. Simply because Marx observed the division of labor does not mean that any theory taking into account the division of labor is a Marxist theory.

  • Raskolnik

    Palin and Rush et al. are not individually to blame any more than Olbermann or any of the screaming heads on the left. But collectively, it is their fault, and all of our faults, that the culture has degenerated to a point where civil dialogue between people with different points of view is effectively impossible on the national stage.

    “I have in mind his incessant class warfare, his demonization of business and its executives…and his street rabble rousing to encourage the poorer among us to reclaim (through “lawful,” though hardly moral, seizure) what now belongs to the “rich.” ”

    You know the funny thing about that is that I feel it far more accurately describes Rush Limbaugh (TARP, anyone?) than President Obama. I guess you’d just have to replace “rich” with “liberal and/or media elite” so as not to make it sound like Rush is a multi-millionaire who just married a supermodel, or something.

  • WillyP

    pnumi,
    Gee the Hitler joke was so funny I forgot to laugh.

    “There is no difference between where the Nazi Party took Germany by the end of WWII and where the American conservative party would take this country if given the opportunity.”

    This is sheer craziness. Or is it another “joke” ??? Am I dealing with Jon Stewart the Little, or a lib who occasionally opines about our debt problem?

    Really I find you more bizarre everyday.

  • Raskolnik

    “Simply because Marx observed the division of labor does not mean that any theory taking into account the division of labor is a Marxist theory.”

    Actually, that’s exactly what it means. Marxist economic theory is precisely what provided the intellectual framework, as ironic as it is, for modern global capitalism. His understanding of what makes industrialized economies tick has a relevance well beyond his crackpot ideas about state intervention. Of course the division of labor and class warfare had always existed, but Marx brought them to the fore as what is directly important about national economies. Instead of seeing wealth in terms of finite physical possessions like gold or silver, he observed that the important part is the capacity for production rather than the mere nominal ownership of products. It’s a brilliant analysis, and it continues to shape how economists and politicians across the political spectrum form their views, whether for or against or (if it’s even possible) deliberately neutral.

  • pnumi2

    kevin47

    I stand behind what I said. Both Hitler and Franco wanted to destroy the communists. King Alphonso was too liberal for Franco. By my lights that makes him conservative. But perhaps I shouldn’t have said both were conservatives. Maybe they were centrists or moderates. Their fight with the communists was hardly an internicine battle of radical movements on the left.

    I made no mention of Marx or economic theory

  • WillyP

    Raskolnik(ov),
    Still feeling guilty about that murder?

    What you just wrote is total crap. I will now demonstrate why:

    “His understanding of what makes industrialized economies tick has a relevance well beyond his crackpot ideas about state intervention.”

    First of all, Marx took the labor theory of value from Ricardo, who had taken it from Smith. It is not a Marx original. Keep that in mind. The division of labor, which was popularized by Smith, was again, not a Smith original. It would be difficult to assign the observation of the division of labor to any single man, but surely that man (perhaps woman) existed thousands, not hundreds, of years ago.

    “His understanding of what makes industrialized economies tick has a relevance well beyond his crackpot ideas about state intervention.”

    Marx believed that interventions would necessarily hamper market economies. He was only an interventionist because he believed it would hasten the end of “capitalism.” Marx was a communist, who wanted all capital goods under control of the state.

    “Instead of seeing wealth in terms of finite physical possessions like gold or silver, he observed that the important part is the capacity for production rather than the mere nominal ownership of products.”

    No no, no. This wasn’t Marx, either. The classical economist had their famous paradox of value – why is a diamond, which is merely a decoration, more valuable than water, which is necessary for sustaining life? This question was not definitely answered by Marx, but by the marginalists in 1871. Walrus, Jevons, and Menger – independent of one another – all “discovered” that value was purely subjective.

    Marx did not contribute even one lasting idea to economics. He was a class warfare instigator par excellence, and an advocate of violence and genocide.

  • Ksitigarbha

    I agree with everything Frum says here, except this:

    “Fourth — and above all — the frustrations of more than a decade of poor governance. Since 1999, Americans have endured (among other setbacks):” – he goes on to list the internet bubble, Hurricane Katrina, etc.

    Is governance any worse after 1999 than before? Vietnam, Watergate, The Bay of Pigs, Waco, the S&L crisis don’t seem materially different than the internet bubble, Iraq, or Katrina. The people have always had plenty to be angry about, if they choose.

  • kevin47

    “I stand behind what I said. Both Hitler and Franco wanted to destroy the communists.”

    That doesn’t make them conservatives, centrists or otherwise. They were both progressives. Their war with Stalin wasn’t philosophical. Progressivism at that time was predicated on the idea, based on scientific advancement, that mankind could improve, and that government should have a powerful role in that improvement.

    Progressivism manifested in a variety of ways, from the lamentable eugenics movement to concern for the environment and the establishment of national parks, to the governmental control of industry. Virtually every ideologue that emerged in the 30s, with the exception of Churchill, was notably progressive.

  • pnumi2

    willy

    “I forgot to laugh” Very original, willy. I heard Don Rickles say that 50 years ago.

    Did I upset you about where I said the American Conservative Party would take us?

    I don’t see a whisp of difference between that and some Conservative’s contention that Obama DELIBERTY want’s to destroy the country. Do you?

    Your problem is that you feel that you can say anything you want about Liberals, but when they answer you in kind you get all hurt, forget your past remarks, and rage that they would dare to.

  • Raskolnik

    “Your problem is that you feel that you can say anything you want about Liberals, but when they answer you in kind you get all hurt, forget your past remarks, and rage that they would dare to.”

    Possibly, but can we please for the love of God stop calling people Nazis-in-waiting? I mean, seriously.

  • kevin47

    “Actually, that’s exactly what it means.”

    No. Marx neither discovered nor refined the concept in any lasting way. Marx’s ideas were often incoherent, melding different (and often competing) theories. That you see different ideas mirrored in both ideologies speaks to this fact.

    He is notable for his philosophies regarding state intervention (and, of course, the Jews). His economic theories were only heralded in this light. As an economist proper, he was a non-entity.

  • WillyP

    I don’t make Hitler jokes… and don’t find them funny (especially unfunny ones).

    The difference is that the American left really is doing their best to transform this nation, while the right is simply trying to bring it back to its roots of limited, local governance.

    The left is stupid. They see state policies fail and them writ them large on the national scale. And hence we have the housing boom, fueled by HUD and my new governor, Cuomo.

    The “progressives” have given us more headaches as a country than any fanatical religious movement. Eugenics, a progressive favorite, delivered us a generation of race based theories and hatreds. Our central bank, which is truly a monster, continues to throw us into economic turmoil every few years due to perpetual inflation.

    I’m not offended in the least. I’m not surprised either. This is why I look to defeat the left, not understand them. When a party makes no sense there’s no point in trying to understand them. I get them enough to know they must be defeated. And to the extent I can, I volunteer for candidates I feel proud to support.

    Besides making “funny” Hitler jokes on FF, what do you do, exactly, to move your cause along?

  • pnumi2

    kevin47

    Maybe it’s best not to label Hitler as anything other than sui generis

    “Hitler’s Nazism draw heavily on Italian Fascism: nationalism (including collectivism and populism based on nationalist values); Third Position (including class collaboration, corporatism, economic planning, mixed economy, national syndicalism, protectionism, and the studies of socialism that fit the Nazi party ideologues and agendas); totalitarianism (including dictatorship, holism, major social interventionism, and statism); and militarism.
    Uniquely, Nazism added a non-rationalist racial dimension to this otherwise typically Fascist ideology:
    “ Every manifestation of human culture, every product of art, science and technical skill, which we see before our eyes to-day, is almost exclusively the product of the Aryan creative power. This very fact fully justifies the conclusion that it was the Aryan alone who founded a superior type of humanity; therefore he represents the architype of what we understand by the term: MAN. He is the Prometheus of mankind, from whose shining brow the divine spark of genius has at all times flashed forth, always kindling anew that fire which, in the form of knowledge, illuminated the dark night by drawing aside the veil of mystery and thus showing man how to rise and become master over all the other beings on the earth. Should he be forced to disappear, a profound darkness will descend on the earth; within a few thousand years human culture will vanish and the world will become a desert. ”
     
    — Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
    The anti-rationalist identification between Aryanism and Germanism, and its arcane opposition to Jewish Bolshevism, was a source of much confusion. Large institutions were established to define what an Aryan was, with poor success, and finally the concept evolved around their practical needs. Originally Aryan peoples like Roma where excluded and annihilated, while certain “infrahuman” East Slavs, like Ukrainians, were redefined as Aryans during the War for the sake of alliances.

    Social conservatism

    The Nazis promoted a socially conservative view of all aspects of life, supported by harsh discipline and a militaristic point of view.”
    Extreme homophobia leading to the systematic persecution of homosexuals”.

  • pnumi2

    Raskolnik

    “Possibly, but can we please for the love of God stop calling people Nazis-in-waiting? I mean, seriously.”

    Are you attributing the phrase ‘nazis-in-waiting’ to me, please show me where I said it.

    I never call the opposition nazis first. But when they describe me so, I give them a tooth for a tooth. I suppose some will turn the other cheek when described by their detractors as nazis. Not I.

    You’d be smart to write a few Congresspeople, whose names I can’t remember at the moment, on this topic.

  • Ksitigarbha

    kevin47:

    If you want to know who is conservative and who is liberal in an industrial society, ask youself:

    Who emphasizes nationalism and military strength, and who emphasizes internationalism?

    Who captures the hearts of students and intellectuals, and who is closer to the hearts of the traditional working class and corporate interests?

    Who wants to redress harms done to outsiders and the allegedly economically oppressed, possibly at the expense of social cohesion and fairness, and who wants to defend the status of the upper classes and the traditions of the middle classes against outsiders?

    Random policy positions taken for political convenience is fairly irrelevant. Medicare prescription drug coverage didn’t make the Republicans more liberal, and welfare reform didn’t make the Democrats more conservative – in the real world, every political party will reverse roles for advantage or survival.

    “Progressive” doesn’t mean “somebody I don’t like.” Beyond a brief movement in the early 20th Century, I’m not sure it means anything at all.

  • pnumi2

    willy

    “I don’t make Hitler jokes… and don’t find them funny (especially unfunny ones.)”

    I guess you’re no historian,willy. Or you would have known to whom else I was referring to.

    never mind.

  • Ksitigarbha

    Raskolnik

    “Possibly, but can we please for the love of God stop calling people Nazis-in-waiting? I mean, seriously.”

    What would you call an extreme right wing movement that constantly employs the rhetoric of armed revolution?

  • pnumi2

    I would have used the expression “Nazis-in-training” if someone had made me use a remark like that. Training implies they’re still learning. Waiting means they’re ready to go.

  • kevinsd

    I think this political anger we’re experiencing has a deep generational component. First, we have this general phenomenon of baby boomer half-assedness (and so any strongly-felt opinion is thought to trump experience or expertise). Second, we have an overall aging of the population (and so the grumpiness of the elder cohort isn’t counterbalanced by the optimism of the new). Third, we have some bona fide threats to the status quo (globalization, immigration, the breaking down of the monoculture into constituent parts). As boomers pass from the scene I think a lot of this will lesson (in part because the younger cohort is already chastened and has fewer expectations).

    Anyone who thinks we’re experiencing the worst of times, btw, should read up on the start of the Civil War. The invective southerners aimed at Lincoln has no counterpart in the present day. No surprise, really, since we’re not on the brink of any genuine unrest. The mythologizing of the Civil War has obscured its real ugliness (and this is still written into our nation’s political DNA, so to speak).

  • jorae

    Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX): On the October 31 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball, Armey said of the attacks on Kerry’s remarks,

    “Well, it’s pretty standard fare in political discourse. You misconstrue what somebody said. You isolate a statement, you lend your interpretation to it and then feign moral outrage.”

    When host Chris Matthews stated that Kerry “was trashing Bush,” Armey responded,

    “Right,” and went on to say, “A fundamental premise of politics is we can make this work if people just never figure it out.”

    We have seen this in practice with words like “Death Panel”…This has become a way of life for the Republican Party.

    “People don’t want Obama Care”….Missing words….”People don’t want Obama Care without the PUBLIC OPTION..”

    Drop the one truth, and you get a lie…

    “Without Public Option, Enthusiasm for Health Care Reform”Collapes”
    Rasmussen Poll (yes, that very Republican Poll taking site admits the distortion of the Republicans)

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/
    healthcare/august_2009/without_public_option_enthusiasm_for_health_care_
    reform_especially_among_democrats_collapses

    So, here is the truth….The majority of Americans want MORE GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN
    THEIR HEALTH CARE…

    http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/090617_NBC-WSJ_poll_Full.pdf

  • mbilinsky

    David, thank you for supporting a thoughtful and decent conservatism. You are displaying the courage that so few members of the media are these days.

  • rook429

    David, as someone who opposes almost every view you have, I appreciate the rationality that you have taken in your approach to political discourse. When I was in college 30+ years ago, my room mate was a National Review reading Republican while I was a Democrat who read The Nation and the New Republic. We could have long heated discussions on politics and still be friends and do things together despite the polar opposite opinions.

    The two of us live in different cities and are married to different women. Yet, If I were to see him at an alumni gathering, his friends would whisper to him “How can you talk to that liberal leftist.” Unfortunately some of my friends would not be any better. “Don’t you know what an extreme right winger that guy is.”

    The tribalism in our political views has made rationale discussion impossible. My college room mate is suppose to be my enemy because he is a conservative Republican. I am suppose to be his enemy because I am a liberal democrat. Instead of treating people as individuals with a different view point, the extreme right and left treat the other as invading aliens from another planet.

    That is why I am not surprised that birtherism is one of the strongest part of the opposition to Obama. There is no better way to deny a person’s humanity than by claiming Obama was born in another country and is either African or Muslim implant out to destroy America. If you think birtherism is crazy as a conservative, then you are either part of the conspiracy or a dupe of the conspiracy. It is sad.

  • TruthFactsONLY

    I would have to say the left..they seem always to be demonizing individuals and groups without any basis in fact..They make false accusations..then want people to defend themselves..seems like an Alinsky tactic…never look in the mirror or at their own past.

  • rook429

    Truth/Facts only is exactly the problem with our discourse. “I would have to say the left..they seem always to be demonizing individuals and groups without any basis in fact..”

    No one on the left makes a salient point according to your logic. The left is always demonizing individuals and basis in fact is tribalismstatement at its worse. No political side left or right has a monoply on the truth and good or bad behavior. If you can not recognize that, dialogue is impossible.

    Perhaps you need to read a book called Language in Thought and Action by S.I. Hayakawa and look carefully at the chapter on two value orientation. Hayakawa is the ex GOP Senator from California and wrote an excellent chapter that two value orientation (believing issues are all black and white) is a problem for the extreme left and right. That is why Robert Welch wrote such ridiculous passages as claiming Eisenhower was a dedicated conscious agent of the communist conspiracy. Hayakawa procededs to analyze the the rhetoric of communists and Nazis and finds the two value orientation logic the same even though the political philosophy is different.

    And the obsession you and some others on the right with Saul Alinksky is almost as bad as birtherism. Here is a counter by that great Saul Alinsky disciple AEI Scholar Norman Ornstein.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/13/AR2010041303686.html

    This story came to mind with the recent blizzard of attacks on Barack Obama by Republican presidential wannabes and other office-seekers, along with their allies on cable television and talk radio. The most extravagant rhetoric has come out of the gathering of Southern Republicans in New Orleans, led by former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who called Obama “the most radical president in American history” and urged his partisan audience to stop Obama’s “secular, socialist machine.”

    At the same conference, Liz Cheney, the former vice president’s daughter who is often mentioned as a possible Senate candidate from Virginia, fiercely attacked Obama’s foreign policy as “apologize for America, abandon our allies and appease our enemies.” And last week the ubiquitous Sarah Palin said of the arms-control treaty Obama signed with Russia, “No administration in America’s history would, I think, ever have considered such a step,” likening it to a kid telling others in a playground fight, “Go ahead, punch me in the face and I’m not going to retaliate.”

    On talk radio, Rush Limbaugh accused Obama of administering “statist-assisted suicide.” Talk show host Michael Savage called Obama’s health-care plan “socialized medicine” and described the nuclear treaty as “insane.” These are not isolated comments; the terms “radical,” “socialist” and even “totalitarian” are bandied about frequently by Obama opponents, including congressional and other GOP leaders.

    To one outside the partisan and ideological wars, charges of radicalism, socialism, retreat and surrender are, frankly, bizarre. The Democrats’ health-reform plan includes no public option and relies on managed competition through exchanges set up much like those for federal employees. The individual mandate in the plan sprang from a Heritage Foundation idea that was endorsed years ago by a range of conservatives and provided the backbone of the Massachusetts plan that was crafted and, until recently, heartily defended by Mitt Romney. It would be fair to describe the new act as Romneycare crossed with the managed-competition bill proposed in 1994 by Republican Sens. John Chafee, David Durenberger, Charles Grassley and Bob Dole — in other words, as a moderate Republican plan. Among its supporters is Durenberger, no one’s idea of a radical socialist.

    What about Obama’s other domestic initiatives? The stimulus was anything but radical — indeed, many mainstream observers, me included, thought it was too timid in size and scope given the enormity of the problems. The plan could have been more focused on swift and directed stimulus. It included such diversions as a fix for the alternative minimum tax — at the insistence of Grassley. And it excluded some “shovel-ready” ideas such as school construction — at the insistence of Republican Sen. Susan Collins. It did not include the kind of public works jobs program employed by Franklin Roosevelt. Nonetheless, it has been widely credited with ameliorating the worst effects of the downturn and helping to move us back toward economic growth. The widely criticized Troubled Assets Relief Program — initiated by Obama’s predecessor — is now returning to the Treasury most of the taxpayer money laid out to keep us from depression and deflation.

    It is true that, in an attempt to head off a meltdown stemming from a collapse of the automobile industry, Obama engineered a temporary takeover of two of the Big Three auto companies. But nothing suggests that this is anything but temporary, and Obama has resisted many calls to take over major banks and other financial institutions.

    The nuclear treaty with Russia excoriated by Palin, Savage and others was endorsed by Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, the GOP’s resident foreign policy expert, and it was crafted under Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was first appointed to that post by George W. Bush. Obama’s approach to terrorism has been similar to Bush’s, while more aggressively targeting leaders of terrorist groups; his larger foreign policy has received the seal of approval from James Baker, former chief of staff to Ronald Reagan and secretary of state to George H.W. Bush. Obama’s energy policies include more nuclear power and more offshore drilling. Obama’s education policies have received wide acclaim across the political spectrum. The “secular” president has shored up and supported federal faith-based initiatives, to the dismay of many in his base.

    Looking at the range of Obama domestic and foreign policies, and his agency and diplomatic appointments, my conclusion is clear: This president is a mainstream, pragmatic moderate, operating in the center of American politics; center-left, perhaps, but not left of center. The most radical president in American history? Does Newt Gingrich, a PhD in history, really believe that [expletive]?

    The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

  • Noli Irritare Leones » Blog Archive » Reactions to Tucson shootings

    [...] David Frum suggests that paranoid political rhetoric is the kind really worth worrying about. [...]

  • rook429

    I would argue birtherism rhetoric is the ultimate in paranoia rhetoric including the idea that Obama’s birth certificate is a fake and that he is a secret Muslim trying to govern the US by Sharia law. The left’s equivalent of political paranoia is that George Bush blew up the towers on 9/11 to expand his political power and imprison his political enemies under the guise of a war on terror. Birthers and 9/11 truthers are two sides of this paranoia.

    It is not surprising that you get a few extremists like Phillip Berg of the left and Jerome Corsi of the right that believe in birtherism and the government launched the 9/11 attacks.