Entries Tagged as 'David Frum'

Why Americans Think All Politicians Fail Them

David Frum July 18th, 2011 at 7:58 am 43 Comments

I have a new column in the Times of London that discusses why Americans currently dislike all politicians.

Click here to read more

The Economy Can’t Survive Abrupt Spending Cuts

David Frum July 12th, 2011 at 1:24 pm 76 Comments

I’m trying to think of an economic precedent even remotely comparable to an abrupt hit-the-wall 44% cut in federal government spending.

The closest I can imagine – and it is not very close – is the defense build-down at the end of World War II.

That build-down was foreseen and planned even before the end of the war. It occurred over three years, not three weeks. Still, it was big:

In an economy of about $200 billion (in the money of the time), annual government spending was reduced by $56 billion.

And what was the real-world effect of the build-down? In the 12 months from 1945 to 1946, GDP dropped by almost 11%.

Happily, the US economy of 1946 was well-positioned to absorb the government cutback.

1) Consumers had accumulated large savings through the years of bond drives, military pay, and rationed goods.

2) Nobody was surprised. Everybody knew that the war would end, and that the military would thereafter shrink rapidly.

3) The cutback was associated with the triumph of American institutions and a more hopeful future: victory, peace, and reconstruction.

Result: by 1947, the US economy was growing strongly again. (Although GDP did not catch up to the 1945 level until 1950.)

Contrast that to now!

1) The consumer is tapped out, still deeply in debt from the housing bubble, and facing the continuing depreciation of the most important consumer asset, housing.

2) Everybody expects a deal to happen at the last minute, so a non-deal would jolt and shock markets.

3) A congressional forced non-payment of US bills would represent a signal and shaming failure of US institutions, sowing doubts about US credibility and reliability among investors and vendors worldwide.

All in all: it would be pretty bad.

So why are we doing this again? To force budget cuts that could be achieved just the same through the ordinary budget process? That’s it?

Frum & Greenwald: Will Europe Prosecute Bush?

David Frum February 23rd, 2011 at 12:06 am 37 Comments

I recorded a new Bloggingheads with Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald.  We discussed whether a European court should put George W. Bush on trial and what Egypt’s revolution may mean for Israel.


Will’s Exit from Afghanistan

David Frum September 1st, 2009 at 11:42 am 72 Comments

Anybody who does not share George Will’s frustrations with the Afghan mission has not been paying attention.

That does not mean George Will is right in his call for American evacuation and a

comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, pills using intelligence, unhealthy drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units…

I think that policy answer is wrong. But if we are to reach a better answer, we need to deal with what is right in Will’s analysis of today’s grim and deteriorating Afghan situation.

Will is right about the weakness of the Afghan state. He is right about the endemic corruption of the Afghan government. He is right about the country’s deep backwardness. He is right above all about the Zen unreality of the current mission: to prevent the re-establishment of al Qaeda bases.

The Bush administration’s undeclared strategy in Afghanistan was to invest the minimum necessary to achieve stability – and then refocus on what it regarded as a more important and more winnable theater in Iraq.

Unfortunately, sustaining Afghan stability has proven much more difficult and expensive than imagined back in 2001 and 2002. Then candidate Obama compounded that Bush-era miscalculation with a poorly considered pledge to increase the US commitment in Afghanistan – a pledge that originated much more in the candidate’s political needs than in any strategic calculation. Obama has hugely reinforced the US Army in Afghanistan, with a big “TK” where his counter-insurgency strategy ought to be.

That’s a formula for frustration. What is being said by George Will in public is already being muttered in private by congressional Democrats.

Barack Obama has given Afghanistan men and money. But one vital resource is being withheld: presidential time and commitment. Turning around an unsuccessful war demands intense presidential focus. Everyone around the president must be made to understand that the war is priority 1, and that everything else on the agenda must be subordinated to this supreme imperative. George W. Bush accepted that responsibility in 2006-2008. Barack Obama has not. The results are as we see, in Afghanistan and now in the darkening assessment of as strong-spined an observer as George Will.

Senator Frum

David Frum August 27th, 2009 at 4:00 pm 8 Comments

linda_frum_sokolowski

Linda Frum Sokolowski

 

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today that he will appoint my sister, Linda Frum Sokolowski, to the Canadian Senate. I am so proud of and thrilled for Linda, a woman of unique grace, talent and accomplishment. Linda is the author of three books, including a beautiful biography of my mother, the late Barbara Frum. She cowrote and coproduced a documentary that won Canada’s highest film award, the Gemini, in 1996. Over the decade 1998-2007, her interviews and articles in Canada’s National Post newspaper were among that paper’s most hilarious and popular features.

Linda and her husband Howard have been supremely generous supporters of civic and philanthropic causes. Linda served on the board of the Ontario Arts Council and the Art Gallery of Ontario Foundation. In 2006, she chaired the United Jewish Appeal’s annual women’s campaign and broke all previous fundraising records.

Linda has been a tireless supporter of Canada’s Conservative party, dating back to the time when that party could count on precious few supporters anywhere in central Canada. She raised money – mobilized support – and sustained spirits through some very dark and dreary defeats. She did all this while raising three children, comforting and consoling our mother through illness, and suffusing the lives of all around her with happiness and joy.

The Canadian Senate is an appointed body. Most Canadian conservatives believe the Senate should be elected. Since winning office in 2006, Prime Minister Harper has repeatedly attempted to reform the Senate. He has been balked at every turn.  Nine months ago, I wrote a column for the National Post about Harper’s predicament.

For two years, Stephen Harper pressed the provinces to hold elections so that he could appoint democratically selected senators. They ignored him.

For two years, Harper minimized prime ministerial powers of patronage in the Senate. Again: Nobody responded.

Harper’s principles exposed him to political danger. The partisan balance in the Senate has deteriorated to the point where the Liberals outnumber Conservatives by a margin of nearly 3-to-1 (58 to 20).

Fears that the Liberals would abuse this unelected advantage are well grounded in history… So Harper acted. He acted as almost every prime minister before him has acted, following some of the most ancient traditions of Canadian politics.

If we don’t like those actions (and I suspect that few like them less than Harper himself), blame the traditions — not the man who was thwarted in his every attempt to repair and improve the traditions.

In December 2008 and now again in August 2009, the prime minister has sought a second best to elections: appointments of outstanding individuals of proven public spirit. Congratulations to Linda as she begins this new chapter in a life of service.

Senator Ted Kennedy

David Frum August 26th, 2009 at 2:00 pm 32 Comments

I know exactly the hour when my opinion of Sen. Ted Kennedy permanently changed. I had remained very angry at the Massachusetts liberal for many years since his 1987 speech so unjustly vilifying the great conservative jurist Robert Bork:

Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, children could not be taught about evolution.

For 15 years thereafter I could hardly bear to hear his name spoken. Nor was my temper much improved by his rough handling of another great conservative legalist, Theodore Olson, at Olson’s confirmation hearings as solicitor general. I was always ready to laugh at the harsh jokes conservatives told about the senator’s legendarily self-indulgent personal life. It seemed a fair judgment on an unfair man.

Then came 9/11. Among the murdered was the brave and brilliant Barbara Olson. Ted asked some friends to help with the deluge of messages of condolence, and my wife Danielle volunteered for the job. Among the letters: a lengthy handwritten note by the senator so elegant and decent, so eloquent and (fascinatingly) written in so beautiful a hand as to revolutionize one’s opinion of the man who wrote it. It did not dishonor by ignoring or denying the political differences between the two families. It fully acknowledged them – and through them expressed a deeper human awareness of shared mortality, pain, and grief. Not all chapters of his life revealed it equally, but the senator was a big soul, and in his last years, he lived his bigness fully. He knew and he expressed the sorrow of human life, a sorrow so memorably captured by his brother Robert in a passage of poetry quoted upon hearing of the murder of Martin Luther King, and engraved thereby in the American political memory forever:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

Rest in peace, leader of the liberals.


We Are the World

David Frum August 25th, 2009 at 9:15 pm 2 Comments

If any venturesome soul would like to see my work translated into Arabic, cheap click here.

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