Where’s My Party?

November 20th, 2011 at 7:08 pm David Frum | 170 Comments |

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Last month, New York magazine challenged me to answer the question: Why are the other Republicans so mad at you? What’s the argument about–and how’s it going?

They allowed me generous space for an answer, which you can read here.

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170 Comments so far ↓

  • Reflection Ephemeral

    Still not showing up at 10:10…

    Other Republicans are mad at you because you suggested, after the passage of the ACA, that the Republican Party should have considered engaging in negotiations to improve health care policy. That is fundamentally incompatible with today’s GOP, which has no policy beliefs, only a favorite team, and– more importantly– a series of resentments towards out groups. Republicans view Pres. Obama as The Other, so talking to him about policy is unthinkable.

    In David Brooks’ term, affinity for the GOP is a “form of psychological protest.” Bruce Bartlett explained that the GOP is the “greedy, sociopathic party” that likes having power so that it can “reward [its] lobbyist friends with more give-aways from the public purse”. You said the GOP should consider talking about policy; this is verboten on the right. If it’s too long for a bumper sticker, it’s too thoughtful for a GOP proposal.

    • Reflection Ephemeral

      Ok, now it’s online.

      Quick thoughts: You wrote: “I believe in free markets, low taxes, reasonable regulation, and limited government.”

      Me too! Come and join us in the Democratic Party.

      You wrote: “I am haunted by the Bush experience”.

      That’s another clue that you don’t belong in the Republican Party.

      Remember, Republicans– especially self-identified “strong conservatives”– loved the Bush administration. According to Gallup, Bush received a sub-30% approval rating from independents as he left office, but a 75% rating from Republicans. Today, people like Grover Norquist (the “field marshal” of the Bush agenda in Congress, according to a top aide to Dick Armey) and Paul Ryan, who voted with Pres. Bush about 90% of the time, are still the power figures in the GOP. Ryan voted for the Bush fiscal policies, for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, for the unfunded entitlement in Medicare Part D and against making it more cost effective. Today, he claims to want to phase out Medicare in order to save money. But we know that he doesn’t care about the deficit, because we know about his record over the last ten years.

      No Republicans anywhere care at all about Bush’s record in office– his fiscal profligacy, his series of inept, self-inflicted wounds in foreign policy. He was a Republican, so Republicans loved him, because Republicans don’t care about policy. They just like having a team to cheer for. If you’re thinking about policy, and arguing that Pres. Bush made mistakes worth learning from, then you don’t belong in the Republican Party.

      Just like it was a mistake for us to trust Saddam Hussein’s arms dealer, Donald Rumsfeld, to oust Saddam and occupy Iraq when Rumsfeld had shown zero capacity for reflection and self-assessment, so too it is a mistake to trust Bush allies today. Elected GOP leaders now claim that they care passionately about the deficit, but they’ve shown no capacity to admit they’ve made mistakes, much less the ability to learn from them.

      To say nothing of the absurdity of the party of torture and indefinite, charge- and trial-less detentions claiming the mantle of “small government.” Republicans don’t care about the size of the government; they just want to see the government target people that they don’t like. So it’s OK, among Republicans, for the executive to torture people without any legal process, as long as he is torturing Muslims. But providing health insurance in the hopes of bringing US health care costs in line with those of the rest of the developed world is unthinkable, to Republicans, because they fear that it might benefit lazy, shiftless minorities and immigrants.

      Allegiance to today’s GOP is the product of a series of cultural resentments. In your essay (and elsewhere), you demonstrate that you are concerned with policy. Therefore, you don’t belong in the Republican Party.

      • balconesfault

        Ok, now it’s online.

        Quick thoughts: You wrote: “I believe in free markets, low taxes, reasonable regulation, and limited government.”

        Me too! Come and join us in the Democratic Party.

        Beat me to it.

        Dems are huge supporters of free markets – they just understand markets need a guiding presence from Government to be really free, particularly in a world filled with nations with state-run trade policies.

        Low taxes? Show me the Dem who supports taxes being raised to pre-Reagan levels. Case closed.

        Reasonable regulation? That makes you a Dem – since today’s GOP doesn’t seem to believe such a thing exists.

        Limited government? No Communists in the Democratic Party, either.

        • Khan

          I had to register just for this. What these guys said.

          Think of it this way, Mr. Frum: Ronald Reagan was so successful that the entire country drifted to the right — so much so, moderate Democrats now occupy much the same territory he used to. The exact goals are still more for the middle-class and the poor than for the rich, but the methods used to reach those goals are always framed in free-market terms, with sober consideration of the existing evidence.

          Please, come to the Dark … err … to the Blue Side.

        • overshoot

          Reasonable regulation? That makes you a Dem – since today’s GOP doesn’t seem to believe such a thing exists.

          That depends on whether you consider the term “reasonable” to rule out clean air and water, or whether you consider it to rule out regulating obstetricians’ offices more strictly than hospitals.

          To Republicans, regulations are another weapon in the class war. That’s how they see the regulations they want to use against their enemies, and that’s how they see regulations that inconvenience their allies.

      • jorae

        I read the first page, then proceeded to the last…

        I was expecting to read …”I have come to the conclusion, that the Democrats have shown in the last two years more skill at leading this country than any of the elected or radical spokesmen for the republican party … I no longer will attach my name to the ‘indifference.’

        I keep hoping to hear these words, but then who would ask him to write an article in the New Yorker? Maybe we should read between the lines.

        • Ray_Harwick

          That wasn’t the New Yorker. It was New York Magazine. So, explain the merits of reading between the lines of, perhaps, the most plainly written analysis of the Republican Party to appear in this century. To read between the lines is to do precisely what Mr. Frum strips the mask off of in this article – it creates an “alternate knowledge system” that is just as brainless as the one Fox News and talk radio offer as “truth”.

          Haven’t we had enough of that kind of felonious crap?

          Just try taking him for his word.

        • jorae

          It reads like a democratic party member’s observation. I read between the lines to see, he has faced the facts. It is a good thing.

      • SerenityNow


  • anniemargret

    I read your essay, David Frum, from beginning to end. I can feel your pain. You have been a Republican all your life, so you are actually in grief, watching the demise of a once-great party.

    I grew up in a Republican household, but my Dad who has now passed, could not recognize what has transpired.

    I think you wrote a powerful essay today, targeting the reasons why the GOP as it now stands, is actually a catalyst for destroying our society. I believe this. It has become a party of nihilists and dangerous right-wingers with a penchant to destroy. They are directed in negativity from within, not any positive or progressive notions.

    In their eagerness to destroy President Obama (and what he represents-culture change), they are more than willing to destroy their own lives and those of their children and grandchildren.

    Is this not insanity?

    This, to me, is the single greatest reason why this nation cannot allow the GOP extremists to continue to lead in any way.

    I agree with you that Romney/Huntsman are outliers in a group of almost insane, radicalized extremists. I heard Gingrich’s latest response to the OWS protests going on now across our nation…”they need to get a job and take a bath.’

    He thinks it’s funny. Does he care? Of course not…they are ‘liberals’ therefore their protests and their concerns are negligible.

    Good luck changing your party. I sincerely doubt that is going to happen. Even if Obama wins again in 2012, the GOP will embrace even more extremism, seeing it as a war for the culture they prefer in this country. That is what this is all about…culture wars.

    As a fairly moderately liberal who will definitely vote again for President Obama, I have to ask you…why do you remain? If you know you cannot effectively change the direction your party is going, if you know you are being squelched and ignored, if you and others like yourself, become more and more marginalized….why?

    Wouldn’t it better to switch parties? There is always room for more conservative views within the Democratic party… we are a much more diversified group, in fact, more ‘conservative’ than the so-called ‘conservatives in the GOP.’

    You don’t belong there anymore. As you said, you didn’t leave the party, but they sure did leave you.

  • Graychin

    Mr. Frum, that’s the best article I’ve seen from you since I started reading here regularly. I second the excellent comments of R.E. and anniemargaret.

    I have only one criticism-this foolish phrase:

    “… a choice between an Obama administration that wants to build a permanently bigger government…”

    The one thing that you and like-minded conservatives can’t seem to grasp is that progressives have no wish to build a bigger government for its own sake. They are not the reverse of those of you who oppose any government growth because… Well, just because. It’s ideology, or religion, or something with you that isn’t based in reality. When progressives see a dire societal need (like millions unable to get affordable health insurance), they don’t MIND a government solution to fix what American capitalism can’t or won’t address. They don’t object to government as a last resort. You do, for reasons that aren’t clear.

    Any person with a lick of sense leaves his political party when it has completely abandoned its principles and become both unrecognizable and odious to him. That’s how Reagan explained his transmogrification from a labor union leader to a union-buster. Then again, Reagan’s fiscal policies were more like what we expect from Democrats. Am I right?

    Where’s your party? It’s right over here – in the blue tent.

    But it’s all rhetorical. You will endorse the elephant every time. You could no more deny”your” party than you could deny your religion. But ultimately each of us has to to answer to our own conscience. What matters more – tribal loyalty, or doing right?

    • Ray_Harwick

      AWESOME would be an understatement. I’ll snuggle in here with Graychin and extend the ovation for this Breathtaking essay!

      This is freaking BRILLIANT, Mr Frum!

    • overshoot

      They don’t object to government as a last resort. You do, for reasons that aren’t clear.

      He’s a Republican, and Republicans are opposed to increasing the services provided by government [1]. Therefore, he’s opposed to increasing the services provided by government.

      [1] Note, that’s not quite the same as “larger government:” they’re dandy with having a Department of Homeland Security doing strip-searches at every bridge in the country until it collapses, ramping up the War on Citizens with no-knock SWAT raids to serve misdemeanor warrants, and totally down with increasing the US “defense” budget until it’s twice the total spend of the rest of the world. Just don’t provide the kind of health care that his family gets in Canada.

      • LauraNo

        I don’t understand how he justifies these stances that conservatives take. But I feel sure he does…

      • Drosz

        What we used to mean was we supported LIMITED government, which is different than SMALLER government. When I used to discuss government issues with folks, we conservatives would say the government should be no larger or smaller than it needs to be to carry out the tasks we have asked of it, but the powers of government over the people it governs should be “limited.” Somehow down the path towards statism and (somehow?) resentment populism the tag “limited” got put on the shelf in favor of “smaller.”

        In the end, this small little change in how consewrvatives view the role of government has effected a whole lot of things.

        • overshoot

          Somehow down the path towards statism and (somehow?) resentment populism the tag “limited” got put on the shelf in favor of “smaller.”

          I don’t see that. Between the DEA, Homeland Security [1], Defense, and the new “department of blastocyst rights” that appears to be on the horizon, we’re getting neither “limited” nor “smaller.”

          [1] I swear, a movie producer who used that name for a department would be told that department names like that went out with Orwell.

        • Drosz

          I do not disagree. People who call themselves Conservative these days seem to have no problem with strong government when they like the outcome or feel it doesn’t affect them. It’s my opinion that it was no accident that the term smaller is in vogue now. “Smaller” now means they can get whatever government action they want and not technically betray their principles, but they don’t want to pay for it.

          It’s a sad trajectory the GOP is taking nowadays.

    • icarusr

      Two gratuitous jabs at Obama’s “higher taxes” and “big government”. This is par for the course and I have trained my eyes to gloss over them.

      You are, of course, right: the question is not that the government is always the solution for liberals/progressives/sane people; it is that there is no ideological opposition to collective action (including government and taxes). Call it the democratic principle (and not Democratic): Democrats in general are democrats; they believe that their government can be an emanation of their will, and that taxation and spending by that government in their own collective names and following democratic procedures handed down to us since 1215 are perfectly fine. Modern day “conservatives” mistrust the “state” – in the hands of the Democrats – because they know full well their own capacity for corruption, abuse, cronyism and graft. Through an act of projection, they believe that collective policies of the Democrats are like their own oligarchic policies; and while a Republican has no hesitation in taking from the poor to give to the Rich (preferably themsleves); they have a difficult time accepting the legitimacy of the reverse, no matter how democratic the provenance of the policy.

      Still, but for a couple of caveats, a sober article. (Then again, McCain/Palin in 2008? And I am supposed to take him seriously?)

    • nuser

      How does one build a” Permanently “big government? Nothing is forever, except eternity!

      • Probabilistic

        Physics is unclear on eternity. So, even that is in doubt. A close approximation would be creating TSA-like agency (lets call it Total Sperm Accounting) to enforce person-hood.

  • a.n.

    This is a great essay. It really ties together your work over the past few years. If you own the rights to it, it could function as a sort of FrumForum manifesto.

  • brettinhalifax

    … an Obama administration that wants to build a permanently bigger government…

    … the Obama administration’s path of bigger government at higher cost…

    You keep asserting that Obama wants bigger government. It is almost as if you need to believe it, because without that canard you’d have to admit that at almost any other time in the last 50 years, Obama would have been right at home in the GOP.

  • KW

    Incredibly cogent and even-handed, Mr. Frum. It’s a bleak picture; barring a series of electoral losses, I can’t see the Republican party changing any time soon — there’s too much money to be made, too much free-ranging fear to be exploited. I wonder if the forces who thought they could goad, and then harness, that fear will learn anything if a Tea Party candidate wins the nomination and goes down to defeat? Probably not. But I do have to quibble with one or two phrases, to wit: “…the Obama administration’s path of bigger government at higher cost…” and “…an Obama administration that wants to build a permanently bigger government.” (If you’re thinking you can burnish your conservative creds with sloppy throwaways like that, well, it’s a little transparent.) As others have said above, maybe it’s time to walk away from this losing cause and declare your independence … or join the Democrats and share your ideas with people who are willing to listen! (I know, I know, you’ve been raised to think we’re the enemy, but we’re the people who are reading your blog and agreeing with much of what you say!) Life is too short to spend it beating your head against a wall and/or suffering petty slights from people and organizations you no longer respect. I do want to say, though, that a man who sees and speaks the hard truth, and is willing to bear the resultant ostracism, is a man to be admired. (* A side note: my Dad was a life-long Republican, too — he died in 2008, just a month after casting his first vote for a Democrat, Obama. If he could do it, you certainly can.)

  • Ray_Harwick

    If the social order comes to seem unjust to large numbers of people, what happens next will make Occupy Wall Street look like a street fair.

    Mr. Frum, you read my mind. Thank you so very much!

  • anton

    yeeeeeeeee hawwwww!!!1!!1111!1

    That’s quite the screed ya got there Mr Frum.


    Just curious, how is it the fault of McCain and Feingold that campaign finance is all jacked up now?

    • hisgirlfriday

      Yes, that was very strange. It’s McCain and Feingold’s fault that Mitch McConnell Republicans could not accept losing the campaign finance issue argument in the legislative process that they had to fight the issue in court? It’s McCain and Feingold’s fault that Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas are judicial activists when it suits their political purposes?

    • think4yourself

      Anton’s right. McCain/Feingold was a real attempt at that bi-partisan spirit you wax so elequently about. It’s demise into something horrible (Citizens United) was the result of a polarized Supreme Court that marched in lockstep with the Republican Party you have been lamenting about.

  • hisgirlfriday

    Aside from my wha? moment at the McCain-Feingold reference, I really appreciate this essay and plan on sharing it with my father, another Republican without a party like Mr. Frum.

    My Dad can never be a Democrat because he just fundamentally dislikes and distrusts Democratic Party constituencies like unions and environmentalists and academics and is convinced they do not add value to the economy or society that is commensurate with their power and influence in society. Thus it makes perfect sense to me why that even when he gets fed up with the political power on the right of the “holy rollers” (he distrusts big religion as much as big government) or totally disagrees with the Republican Party on tax cuts for the wealthy or massive military spending that he will probably go back to voting Republican even after his 2008 protest vote for Obama.

    But when I try to explain to him why *I* feel like I can never vote for the Republican Party based on how the GOP has conducted itself during my lifetime, I feel like he doesn’t get it or I am unable to articulate fully and clearly why I feel the way I do. Thanks for the help, Mr. Frum.

    • Ray_Harwick

      I get what you’re saying. At the very least, what Mr. Frum does in this essay is show you what the world looks like from the right at this time in history, as described by someone who lives there. I specifically read Frum because, as a life-long Republican who terminated my subscription with the disaster called George Bush, I trust Frum’s sniff test to be more accurate than interpreters on the left. I’m just like your father on Big Religion: cut-throats, liars and the exact opposite of moral. He and I would have a heck of good time reciting the sins of those holy rollers. I read a blog titled “The Week In Holy Crimes” that I bet you dad would get a big hoot out of. Give him my regards.

  • satkinsn

    First, the piece should be remembered as the bookend to a long period of Republican strangeness, which is to say, it’s great.

    Second, it’s important to never forget the Republican party has had this strain of incoherent conservatism running through it for a long time.

    Third, I think there’s a little reason for hope: people like Scott Brown have demonstrated some flexibility in how they look at problems, and even arch-conservatives like Rick Santorum are willing to be chastened by reality – whether you agree with him or not, see his answer on Pakistan at the CBS debate.

    Scott A.

  • Demosthenes

    My father is an immigrant to the United States, a legal academic who has been a big donor to the Republican party (and instrumental in shaping legislation) since before he was a citizen. He is cordial with Justice Antonin Scalia, and called “Tony” in disbelief after Bush v. Gore. But he was willing to give W. the benefit of the doubt. Eight years later, he proudly voted for Obama, and says he intends to do so again in 2012.

    If my father is a RINO, and David Frum and Bruce Bartlett are RINOs, then it is past time to acknowledge that the Republican Party (as such) has been hijacked.

  • Fart Carbuncle

    David, you need to stop your inner turmoil and join the Democrats. Really. You have no business even pretending anymore.

    However, with their Dear Leader, even the most passionate of supporters are beginning to turn on him, to include the infamous “leg tingling” Chris Matthews:

    Thrill Is Gone? Matthews Turns On Obama; ‘I Hear Stories That You Would Not Believe’


  • Stewardship

    Basically, the GOP’s sole mission is to win elections, with no regard to good public policy, truth, or future generations. What I would give for one elected Republican in Congress to grow a spine.

  • Oldskool

    I”ll have to read the rest later. But, any informed person who voted for McCain/Palin was willing to put party over country as recently as 2008.

    And if they’re willing to vote for Romney/Whoever in 2012, with all the same party players pulling all the same strings, well, nothing speaks louder.

    • icarusr

      On McCain/Palin – precisely. This is why all the protestations, while forceful, appear to me still somewhat weak.

  • Stan

    Like many of the others commenting on your post, I thought it was brilliant. But I differ with them in one respect. I hope you stay in your party and try to nudge it back toward the middle. Good luck, and I mean this sincerely.

  • overshoot

    But as I contemplate my party and my movement in 2011, I see things I simply cannot support.

    But if the only alternatives are Democrats, you will anyway. That’s what loyalty is all about, after all.

  • PracticalGirl

    Masterfully written. Like HGF and others, I’m sending the link to GOP friends and family who struggle with the same issues.

    All of this pretty prose from a man who says his party left him, that the means of Republicans are unrecognizable and lays out the damaging ends…I split with others in urging Frum to become a Democrat (he isn’t one, and I dont’ want to see my party go his way) , but I split with anybody who can articulate so well the reasons to stop supporting the GOP in any way and yet continues to do so. It’s the battered wife syndrome, and until Mr. Frum- and other strong voices like him- divorces himself entirely from the abuser and finds a new way to live, the cycle will continue for us all.

  • JimBob

    Frum writes : “I believe in free markets”
    “ultralibertarianism, crank monetary theories”

    Frum, your lame ass article is just one huge contradiction. For limited government but blasting Republicans for wanting to downsize government. For Free Markets, but supports Monetary Central planning.

    Bottom line, Frum you’re not a conservative. The only thing stopping you from becoming a Democrat I suspect is you don’t trust them on Israel.

    • Cforchange

      Oh please, how can you believe this? ” blasting Republicans for wanting to downsize government.”
      How can you even call candidates like Bachman conservative when the only significant paychecks ever received were off the back of government. Admit it the only glue holding you fools together is abortion. If multiple married, health care policy making, climate change flipping Newtie’s rise doesn’t make that clear, you are an independent thinker as is a Moonie.

      • JimBob

        The Republicans have proposed significant cuts in government spending. They’ve put up plans to reform entitlements.

        Frum says he’s a conservative, but his economic philosophy is Keynesian. If we cut spending in bad times the economy will get worse. But history doesn’t back that up. It didn’t work in the 1930s, 1970s, and it isn’t working now. In the depression of 1920-21 we slashed government spending in half and by 2002 the economy was back on its feet. After World War 2 when 10 million people left the military we cut spending by sixty percent and the economy finally recovered from the great depression.

        • overshoot

          Frum says he’s a conservative, but his economic philosophy is Keynesian. If we cut spending in bad times the economy will get worse. But history doesn’t back that up.

          Interesting assertion. How, for instance, is the whole austerity thing working in Europe? Or is this another case of American Exceptionalism being interpreted as “there is nothing that the United States can learn from other countries, because the laws of Nature are different for us?”

    • lilmanny

      Per usual, the tea party’s anger extends even to grammar and capitalization:

      “Frum, your lame ass article is just one huge contradiction. For limited government but blasting Republicans for wanting to downsize government. For Free Markets, but supports Monetary Central planning.

      Bottom line, Frum you’re not a conservative. The only thing stopping you from becoming a Democrat I suspect is you don’t trust them on Israel.”

      I hate that one of the few voices of dissent to this article is a complete moron. It can’t be that easy. Mr. Frum can’t be that right. I look around for voices that can silence the doubts I have, yet all I get are slogan spouting dopes. Jim Bob, for instance, confirms everything Mr Frum just went over, like he was out of the room when we were all saying it or something. Dammit!

      (PS – Jim Bob, perhaps you would have saved yourself some time with the last sentence and just typed “Jewboy”, though I’m sure you would have out it in all caps. RIGHT?)

      • JimBob

        You’re an idiot and a lightweight. You can’t refute one damn thing. Nothing. Zilch. Everything I said is right on the money.

        Frum says he supports free markets. Okay. But dozens of times on this forum he’s on the record calling for the central planners at the Federal Reserve to print more money to drive down interest rates. I’ve got news for you, there’s nothing free market about Frums views on monetary policy.

        He is a Keynesian. Money printing and low interest rates to re-inflate the bubble. He sees no inflation but the average American that lives paycheck to paycheck sees it everyday when buying gas for their cars and buying groceries to feed their kids.

        Bottom line, Frum is an elitist boob.

  • ottovbvs

    Despite the odd strawman (Obama’s alleged committment to grow govt) and a perhaps residual attachment to the Republican policy of blaming the victims (McCain Feingold?) a really excellent, nay outstanding, summary of what ails the Republican party. It can be summarised perhaps as “They have created an alternate reality and actually largely believe it.” Given that it was written by not just a Republican but by an extreme doctrinaire Republican with the resume to prove it, this is a report from the road to Damascus if I ever saw one. I know because it’s a road I took about 12 years ago when it was becoming abundantly clear that the GOP was losing it’s mind and events since amply prove it.

  • indy

    I happened to catch Grover Norquist on 60 minutes last night. In it he made the point that he was 12 when he got the idea to brand the Republican Party as the party that would never raise your taxes. There’s your party Frum in a nutshell. Creating oaths to support the policy positions of a 12 year old, and it shows.

  • Falling Rock

    When I tell people I’m leaning toward Mitt, I often get the reply that he’s “not a conservative”, and my first thought is, “so what”.

    Purity is the crack cocaine of the party, and the right wing media are the pushers making money from the trade. No problem will be solved by being a purer conservative, but anytime a Democrat scores a point the pushers will always be there to say, “it’s because so-and-so wasn’t pure enough.” That’s where their money lies.

    The party is worth fighting for, but I wonder if the Frum faction can muster the voice to counter the noise. The Apollonian parts of the party have ceded the megaphone to the Dionysian faction. Winning it back won’t be easy, and will require some blood letting.

    • Drosz

      Depends on your definition of conservative. I think Romney is more conservative than most of the buffoons I see running for the nomination. Of course, my definition of conservative largely revolves around the idea of stability and a person’s disposition.

  • ottovbvs

    “Winning it back won’t be easy,”

    The only way this happens is by a period of prolonged exclusion from power. The Republican party both in terms of the party machinery and its representation both at state and federal level is almost completely under the control of the doctrinaire right. You only need to look at the voting record in congress over the last three years and at events in those states where they have gained control of all branches of govt. It’s starting to produce the inevitable reaction but there’s little doubt about the extremism of these people or their agenda. It’s for this reason I hope the GOP nominates with its heart rather than it’s head since the alternatives in terms of governmental agendas can then be presented for all to see.

  • BigAl70

    Great article David. I really enjoyed reading it. I left the Republican Party in 2004 and I miss it sometimes. What’s there now is like this funhouse mirror of the party I fell in love with in 1988. I find my self voting Democrat more often than not nowadays because I just can’t stand the alternative universe most republicans live in nowadays. I really do fear for the future because America needs strong, bi-partisan leadership to deal with the massive problems headed our way. Unfortunately one side completely refuses to play. I fear we may be doomed…….

  • sdspringy

    Typical of your site David is that it is a major draw for foam at the mouth liberals. They always love watching a self proclaimed Republican whipping themselves.

    By just the third paragraph of your massive cry for help the delusional nature of your scarlet letter appears. You “strongly criticized the major policy decisions of the Obama administration”. Really.

    Couldn’t tell that from the way you bent over for ObamaCare.

    Then you called yourself a conservative, saying your a Republican is one thing but trying to pass yourself off as a conservative is a leap tooo far for you.

    You really need to read your own work for the last 3 years, compare that to what other “conservatives” are saying then realize what draws these Liberal nut jobs too post on your site is you. They really see themselves having an impact on you. Saddly.

    • Reflection Ephemeral

      In reality, of course, Frum called the ACA a “defeat for free-market economics and Republican values”. http://www.frumforum.com/waterloo

      In the fevered imaginations of GOP base voters like sdspringy, Frum’s insufficiently hyperbolic opposition gives rise to thoughts of homosexual activity, derogatively described.

      This is because of the dynamic that I pointed out above: Republicans don’t have policy preferences, they have a favorite team, and more importantly, they have resentments of a series of of outsiders. When Frum says, “maybe the GOP should have engaged in negotiations with the president in order to improve health insurance policy,” the Republican Party hears insufficient devotion to the cause of hating Democrats.

      As soon as you begin talking about policy at anything more than a surface level, you have alienated the GOP base, the GOP leadership, and unelected GOP leaders like Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, and Roger Ailes.

    • lilmanny

      Still looking. More morons and a homophobic remark to boot.

    • Probabilistic

      “You really need to read your own work for the last 3 years, compare that to what other “conservatives” are saying then realize what draws these Liberal nut jobs too post on your site is you. They really see themselves having an impact on you”

      Is having a conversation such a bad thing? Influencing each other through open dialogue is the essence democratic civil society. Or, do you propose people cling to positions even when presented with contrary evidence?

      Frum did not arrive at these conclusions overnight. It is quite clear from his post, it took years of introspection, and he gave us his reasons in an honest, forthcoming manner. All of us refine our mental models based on various inputs – oftentimes the best tool for such refinement is challenges from others. Sometimes this may lead us to discard a model we might have cherished. If in some measure the conversations in these threads have played a part, then that is natural. Although, I don’t recall any of the commenters making an extravagant claim, as you suggest.

      • sdspringy

        Frum can refine his position however I’m stating the obvious. Frum was never against ObamaCare, contrary to Reflect’s link Frum always wanted a national healthcare vehicle and wanted Republicans to negotiate to that end as he stated in the link and many times previously.

        Frum’s position was never the conservative one which was NO ObamaCare under any circumstances. Frum’s involvement in Bush’s administration is not the solid credentials necessary to prove conservatism since everyone on the right did not view Bush as a conservative. The loss of Congress in 2006 was a symptom of Republican overspending as much as the Iraq war. The Tea Party’s anger was directed at Republicans more than Democrats.

        And Frum doesn’t support the Tea Party either. Frum’s latest lament is just another example of how completely out of touch with Republicans he is or a symptom of his need to be adored by the Libs on his blog to keep his traffic up.

        • Probabilistic

          The rigid orthodoxy you espouse is telling, and is the clear evidence why Frum finds the Republican party to have left him, as people with your viewpoint have gained ascendancy.

          Such categorical statements as ‘no Obamacare under any circumstances’, which has transformed today to ‘no Obama anything under any circumstance’, surely leads to nothing but impasse that we witness today. The Republicans may be better at playing this game now but the Democrats too can learn to play reckless opposition. Negotiation and compromise are perfectly honorable words.

          Then there are demonstrably incorrect claims “The Tea Party’s anger was directed at Republicans more than Democrats”. By what measure?

      • overshoot

        Is having a conversation such a bad thing? Influencing each other through open dialogue is the essence democratic civil society.

        It’s consorting with the enemy, giving them aid and comfort. That’s exactly what the Constitution defines as “treason.” And, as specified in the Constitution, anyone caught doing it should die.

        Or, do you propose people cling to positions even when presented with contrary evidence?

        Any so-called “evidence” which contradicts The Truth is manifestly false and anyone either proposing it or being led astray by it is an enemy of the people.

    • SpellCheck

      sdspringy: “your a Republican” should be “you’re a Republican”, “tooo” should be “too”, and “saddly” should be “sadly”. I’ve noticed that the more hard-core foaming-at-the-mouth-delusional a right-winger is, the worse their spelling and grammar is too (tooo?). Maybe Frum will have to leave the Republican party because he’s literate and knows how to (tooo?) use a spellchecker.

  • ottovbvs

    “They really see themselves having an impact on you.”

    Reality has a liberal bias? Funny how Frum draws the nut jobs from their alternate reality.

  • medinnus

    Mr. Frum,

    Bravo. My own experience echoes yours; I want my party to return to sanity, hence my support for Huntsman.

    One small nit to pick, sir. You claim that the GOP embrace smaller government than the Democrats/Liberals. While I wish that were true, GW Bush embraced and expanded the government with the support of GOP (and later, Democrat) majorities. In the name of “national security”, Constitutional civil rights are all but suspended (again, under Bush, and expanded by Obama with nary a peep in opposition from the GOP). We have become a military state in the name of National Security, with huge expansions in Defense and related areas which dwarf anything the Democrats have done, and could even dream of, in the face of very little actual, existential threat.

    How then can you cast calumny upon the Democrats while claiming the GOP embrace the converse?

    NB – “If CNN’s most recent polling is correct, only half of us sympathize with the tea party.”

    Probably accurate as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far. What the poll does not count is the number of disenfranchised Conservatives who live more near the center, but cease to identify as GOP. They are easily the equal in numbers to the Tea Party, if not inclined to argue with the politically stupid (hence, their departure).

    • Sinan

      The GOP has no problem with the state growing if they are performing law and order duties or defending the nation. There seems to be no limit to the amount of control they will give the state to defend us from some evil murderer, rapist or evil doer. They also have a deep fear unfounded in history that we are always on the verge of being overthrown militarily.

      • elizajane

        They also don’t mind the state growing in order to protect us from gays, abortion, even contraception. The number of new things the federal government was called upon to do in Saturday’s Iowa “debate” was astonishing.

    • Ray_Harwick

      What the poll does not count is the number of disenfranchised Conservatives who live more near the center, but cease to identify as GOP.

      Here! Here!

  • medinnus

    Make that “police state” growing bigger, and then pass laws to make illegal any thoughts not based on Christianist teachings, and I agree with you. CINO – Christian In Name Only – the current Religious Reich.

    • Chris Balsz

      “‎”Although individual members of Congress have every right to express their views and the views of their constituents with respect to their religious beliefs and principles and their personal standards of who may marry whom, this court cannot conclude that Congress is entitled to solemnize such views in the laws of this nation in disregard of the views, legal status and living arrangements of a significant segment of our citizenry that includes the Debtors in this case. To do so violates the Debtors’ right to equal protection of those laws embodied in the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.
      …This court cannot conclude from the evidence or the record in this case that any valid governmental interest is advanced by DOMA as applied to the Debtors…In the court’s final analysis, the government’s only basis for supporting DOMA comes down to an apparent belief that the moral views of the majority may properly be enacted as the law of the land in regard to state-sanctioned same-sex marriage in disregard of the personal status and living conditions of a significant segment of our pluralistic society. ”
      In re Balas and Morales 2:11-bk-17831-TD

      The law on thoughts is in fact going the opposite direction.

      • Nanotek

        “These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.” Lawrence v. Texas

        the right to marry is fundamental to personhood… to violate a fundamental right, a majority — acting through government — must have a compelling reason based in fact.

        looks like it may be going in the right direction, after all … Citizens United notwithstanding

        • Chris Balsz

          How long do you think the United States can impose laws which a majority consider immoral?

        • Nanotek

          as long as the Constitution holds true, presumably … the Constitution is a super-majoritarian document that offers a natural dampner to majority abuses of power

          the right to marry — like the right to equal treatment by the law — has, for decades, been held by courts to be fundamental to liberty and personhood … lawmakers — like Newt Gingrich — who want to violate such rights must show a compelling interest based in fact … not ginned up sexual Jim Crow laws coming out of southern pulpits

          + 1 Slide …

        • Ray_Harwick

          Well, if you want to re-define what a “citizen” is and you’re comfortable with barring a “citizen” from the rights enjoyed by everyone else, not long. As long as you think marriage doesn’t matter to people who were born into families where marriage was the tie that bound them, you really don’t have an appreciation of how power that institution is. Virtually everyone in this country who married did so solely to proclaim just how seriously they took their relationship. As long as you bar people from making that same statement, you destroy that important dimension of marriage. It makes marriage worthless.

        • overshoot

          How long do you think the United States can impose laws which a majority consider immoral?

          Well, let’s see. Remind me again how long we’ve been having a “war on drugs.”

  • Chris Balsz

    “Through the debate over health-care reform in 2009–10, I urged that Republicans try to reach some kind of deal. The Democrats had the votes to pass something. They could not afford to lose. Providing health coverage to all is a worthy goal, and the core mechanisms of what we called Obamacare should not have been obnoxious to Republicans. In fact, they were drawn from past Republican plans. Democrats were so eager for Republican votes to provide bipartisan cover that they might well have paid a substantial price to get them, including dropping the surtaxes on work and investment that supposedly financed the Affordable Care Act. My urgings went unheeded, obviously. Senator Jim DeMint predicted that health care would become Obama’s Waterloo, the decisive defeat that would destroy his presidency, and Republicans accepted DeMint’s counsel. So they bet everything—and lost everything. A major new entitlement has been written into law, financed by redistributive new taxes. Changes in the bill that could have been had for the asking will now require years of slow, painful legislative effort, if they ever come at all. Republicans hope that the Supreme Court will overturn the Affordable Care Act. Such a decision would be the most dramatic assertion of judicial power since the thirties, and for that reason alone seems improbable. Yet absent action by the Supreme Court, outright repeal of President Obama’s health-care law is a mirage, requiring not only 60 votes in the Senate but also the withdrawal of benefits that the American people will have gotten used to by 2013.”

    The “pragmatism” you’re bringing to the ‘opposition’ is: the Democrat goal is laudable; the GOP should be bound by the most liberal policy position any Republican faction ever had on the issue; we can’t match their caucus discipline; the American people will prefer living under their entitlement programs; Republicans can’t ever expect to generate enough votes in Congress to reverse the legislation; the constitutional argument against it is slim and unlikely to prevail; and (you write elsewhere) it’s just wrong to use a House majority to vote against funding the program in the face of a Democratic Administration.

    If you believe all that, why aren’t you a Democrat?
    If Republicans challenged any one of these points, why would they accept your advice?

    • ottovbvs

      “the GOP should be bound by the most liberal policy position any Republican faction ever had on the issue”

      Well when Heritage and Romney were promoting what is essentially the ACA they hardly called it liberal.

      • Chris Balsz

        So what? They are repudiated.

        • ottovbvs

          “They are repudiated.”

          Yeah so what. They have no core principles. It was a great idea for years while conservatives held it but now it’s how the ACA is going to work it’s unconstitutional.

        • Chris Balsz

          Nope. It’s a bad idea that was dropped by Republican majorities for over a decade.

        • ottovbvs

          “It’s a bad idea that was dropped by Republican majorities for over a decade.”

          Err Romneycare was introduced in 2006!! Can’t you even get your lies straight?

        • Ray_Harwick

          Nope. It’s a bad idea that was dropped by Republican majorities for over a decade.

          True, once Heritage started the ‘alternate knowledge source’ of “It’s socialism” and Sarah Palin added to the alternate knowledge source with “death panels”. Until those things happened, Gingrich was the FATHER of ACA – that is, until Democrats said they liked it, too. And then Republicans decided they must have done something wrong because, really, how could they agree with Democrats. As David pointed, the Republican base suddenly realized the were cheering for the wrong team. Can’t do that.

          It’s just so pathetic.

        • Traveler

          The passive voice makes it seem like somebody else did the repudiating, and been at it for more than a decade.

          Welcome to Balsz’ alternative universe.

    • Reflection Ephemeral

      Chris Balsz: “the most liberal policy position any Republican faction ever had on the issue”

      Reality, with its well-known liberal bias:

      For the next 18 years or so, that’s the role the individual mandate played. It was what Republicans proposed as a smaller-government alternative to the health-care plans favored by liberals. … The legislation became the GOP’s semiofficial response to President Bill Clinton’s health-care bill, and it was eventually co-sponsored by such influential Republicans as Bob Dole, Richard Lugar, Chuck Grassley, and Orrin Hatch. The other major Republican alternative, the Consumer Choice Health Security Act, included Jesse Helms and Trent Lott as cosponsors, and also included an individual mandate.


      When you talk about health care, you’re talking about policy. Republicans don’t do policy; they do labels. They don’t judge whether an idea is good or bad by its practical impact; they know if it’s good if it is “Conservative”. And the best definition of conservatism, from Balloon Juice: “Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today: updated daily.”

      Because the needs of the Republican Party, at this moment, involve saying that the individual mandate is unconstitutional liberal tyranny, Jesse Helms and Trent Lott are now the most liberal faction in GOP history. Is it true? Was the mandate thought to be “liberal” until the needs of the GOP made them oppose their idea? Will it work, based on the experience of other countries?

      Not relevant.

      It is “liberal”, therefore it is bad. No rational thinking required– or allowed.

      • Chris Balsz

        I never agreed with the individual mandate, and neither have most other voters. That is probably why a two-term Republican president and his Republican majority in Congress left it dead as a dodo. Because we did think about it, and we reject it, whoever proposed it.

        • Reflection Ephemeral

          From the same link as above:

          As recently as June 2009, Grassley was telling Fox News that there was a “bipartisan consensus” in favor of the individual mandate. “That’s individual responsibility,” he said, “and even Republicans believe in individual responsibility.” But when Republicans failed to stop Obama’s health-care law in Congress, they decided to try convincing the courts that the individual mandate represented something new and unprecedented: a regulation of economic inactivity.

          I take it that you’re arguing that Republicans like lead GOP health care negotiator Sen. Grassley advocated for an individual mandate for two decades, but only in bad faith– they never actually cared about health insurance policy one way or another, and put their names on bills without really caring about it one way or the other.

          I’m not sure how that rebuts my point that Republicans don’t care about policy, instead rejecting as “liberal” whatever the Democratic Party has to offer at any given moment, regardless of the efficacy or provenance of the proposal.

    • Chris Balsz

      Bill Clinton signed off on Welfare-toWork, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the Defense of Marriage Act. He was twice nominated for the Presidency by the Democratic Party.

      All of these have been repudiated by the modern Democratic Party. In fact DADT and DOMA are denounced as “bigotry”. Yet Clinton is warmly welcomed at Democrat events.

      Are you hypocrites? Are you bigots? Are you bound by the most conservative position a faction of your party once endorsed?

      • Sinan

        You make good points about the rightward tilt of the Clinton era. Clinton was no liberal and apparently neither is Obama. However, I will take their right of center compromises over the insane reactionary policies of today’s GOP any day. We support them not because they adhere to a strict dogma which is used like a bludgeon on anyone daring to call themselves a Democrat, we support them because they represent the most rational, reasoned and informed politicians in the room. We do not demand conformity.

      • ottovbvs

        DADT and DOMA are purely minority social issues not substantive economic ones that affect the economic wellbeing of the entire nation. Not that I’m surprised you can’t tell the difference Balsz.

        • Chris Balsz

          ““It’s a bad idea that was dropped by Republican majorities for over a decade.”
          Err Romneycare was introduced in 2006!! Can’t you even get your lies straight?”

          Romneycare is a state bill embraced by Democrats and a not-a-Reagan Republican. It, and its author, have been rejected by national Republican majorities.

          “DADT and DOMA are purely minority social issues not substantive economic ones that affect the economic wellbeing of the entire nation. Not that I’m surprised you can’t tell the difference Balsz.”

          They’re examples of a partisan shift against an earlier agenda. BTW you’re being very dismissive of what your party insists is a burning civil rights issue, aren’t you?

        • ottovbvs

          “It, and its author, have been rejected by national Republican majorities.”

          So what it was introduced by a Republican governor five years ago to praise from Republican think tanks. You were lying again. And I’m not being dismissive just pointing out the reality they’re minority social issues and not to be compared with something as central to the lives of most Americans as healthcare.

        • Ray_Harwick

          Who is fueling the fire of this issue? Look around you at holy roller television and radio and you’ll see that rigid insistence that the country should be governed by the Holy Bible is a BIG moneymaker. You really ought to follow the National Organization “for” Marriage and see how *every* little tiny blip they see as immorality evokes a long condemnation followed by a plea for donations that far exceeds any alter-call Billy Graham ever engineered. Brian Brown is knocking down a 6-figure salary and he’s SECOND in command to Maggie Gallagher – paid for by Chik-Fil-A who takes the money of gay people and buys bricks for the wall that separates them from *real* citizens. It’s the Hate Industrial Complex and it builds mega-churches and puts minister’s children through Liberty University, and buys 10,000 sq. ft. “get-away” homes on the Florida coast.

  • Southern Populist

    David Frum works to purge every conservative voice who disagrees with his vision for the Republican party. It’s rich that he complains about being purged himself.

    • medinnus

      Do you have citations of your allegations?

      • Southern Populist

        This essay is a good illustration of David Frum’s zeal for purging dissidents when it suits him.

        It’s an essay dedicated to attacking the conservatives who opposed the Iraq war back in the day.


        • medinnus

          Thanks for the citation!

        • Aaron

          Will people ever stop posting that lie? I didn’t like that “Unpatriotic Conservatives” smear either, but Frum explicitly said that it was not unpatriotic to question the wisdom of the Iraq war:

          The antiwar conservatives aren’t satisfied merely to question the wisdom of an Iraq war. Questions are perfectly reasonable, indeed valuable.

          I know this was almost a decade ago, but if you’re still bringing it up, try to represent it honestly.

        • ottovbvs

          To be fair this is a fairly small caveat in hundreds of words of excoriation of anyone questioning the correctness of the attack on Iraq.

  • rbottoms

    Frum: Your mind refuses to face a conclusion. You still refuse to face the truth.

    GOP: What truth?

    Frum: Morbius, that thing out there. It’s you.

    ~ Forbidden Planet

  • Nanotek

    “America desperately needs a responsible and compassionate alternative to the Obama administration’s path of bigger government at higher cost. ”

    respectfully, therein lies the first problem … alcoholics need first to recognize the problem is them, not “demon rum,” not Obama or “bigger government at higher cost”

    until conservatives can begin their discussions with — “Let’s face facts. We conservative Republicans inherited a nation that was the envy of the world with a budget surplus and robust economy when we took control of the nation in 2001 … but on the way out the door, we handed back an economy on the brink of global collapse and riddled with Wall Street, crony capitalism and banker fraud, proliferated K Street lobbies and influence peddlers like Newt, an economy that had contracted overnight by 8% and was losing 750,000 jobs a month.” — they’ll wander their desert.

    as it stands today, the conservative front runner is a serial adulterer and influence peddler for the same reason Republicans cannot begin an honest conversation with “Let’s face facts.”

  • rockinrobbie

    This is why we need a viable third party.

    Over 50% of Americans describe themselves as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, but neither party represents them. In the past, they’ve had to make a choice of what is more important: fiscal policies or social policies (though the GOP is becoming more and more fiscally reckless). Is it any wonder that more and more voters are registered to neither party?

    We desperately need a party that represents mainstream (not middle) America and not the wacky far right of FOX or the more specious of the left. A party that is moderate-to-conservative on fiscal issues and libertarian on social issues. I’d join that party. And I’m sure there are many, many others.

    • rbottoms

      The only thing a third party does is guarantee the election of the Democrat or the Republican. These are your choices, insane GOP or the Democrats.

      Deal with it.

    • ottovbvs

      “We desperately need a party that represents mainstream”

      That would be (as Frum tacitly admits) the Democratic party. Forget third parties they’re an illusion. Make a list of what you’re for and against and compare it with the policies of the Republicans and the present administration. If your list compares with Republicans go vote for them but if it compares with the Democrats vote for them. Where exactly do they diverge from your worldview. I’m a fiscal conservative and social liberal but I’m in no doubt about whose policies make the most economic sense.

  • nuser

    Frum will not leave the GOP at least not this time around. Perry will drop a bomb on Iran,
    Romney will go to war on Iran, in order to stop nuclear weapons. Which in return would
    arguably benefit Israel’s policies. President Obama has made no such statements and therefore is dismissed. On this site I tend to think , Israel first, which is too bad, because David Frum
    has a good analytical mind.

    • think4yourself

      @ Nuser: “Perry will drop a bomb on Iran, Romney will go to war with Iran”

      I’m not an apologist for the GOP candidates, all of whom are awful, but campaign statements in the primaries are about getting elected. While Perry is pathetic I wouldn’t expect either of those to drop a bomb or start a war – because, they both know that the consequences of such actions are too horrible to contemplate – and would lead to no chance of reelection.

      Obama in his primary burnished his anti-war credentials against Hillary’s centrist stance to devastating effect – never mind that he actually never had to vote for or against the war. He also made promises about Gitmo and the Patriot Act that after he became President went unfulfilled. An example of campaign promises that fell before the actuality of governance.

      • ottovbvs

        The promise on Gitmo went unfilled because he and Holder were blocked by the Republicans. Hardly an unkept committment. They tried and were blocked.

        • think4yourself

          I don’t disagree about Gitmo (although some hardcore Progressives have argued that closing Gitmo was something he should have staked his Presidency on).

        • nuser

          Who were those two clowns addressing anyway? The only one that comes to mind is John
          McCain and he is only one vote. Are they trying to appease some faction or country?

  • Lonewolf

    Frum is a modern day Sisyphus, eternally pushing a boulder of sweet reason up the side of Mount Crazy.

  • nhthinker

    As Grover Norquist would say, “Republicans” like Frum are like “rat’s heads in the bottom of Coke bottles”…They destroy the Republican brand value of being for low tax, and small government.

    Frum has consistently put forward ideas that more tax is needed and more government is needed. Actually, no. Frum has flipflopped on this because in his “Dead Right” days, Frum actually wrote like a low tax, and small fed government Republican. The “rat’s head” metamorphosis is a millennial change.

    Frum has been consistent with his distaste of social conservatives and his inability to comprehend and relate to non-college educated whites.

    • ottovbvs

      “and his inability to comprehend and relate to non-college educated whites.”

      The persecuted minority that increasingly (or at least the male half of it) constitutes the know nothing base of the GOP.

      “like “rat’s heads in the bottom of Coke bottles”

      Well the biggest rats head has to be George Bush.

  • TerryF98

    “They destroy the Republican brand value of being for low tax, and small government.”

    Never has been, never will be.

    • ottovbvs

      Terry: nh “thinker” isn’t interested in the reality represented by these numbers… as Frum points out he has own separate reality

      • TerryF98

        I know he is not interested in reality and facts. I just don’t like his BS to stand uncorrected.

        • ottovbvs

          The Thinker and Balsz are the very people Frum is talking about. They live in an alternative universe that’s impervious to facts. Present them with facts and they expend vast amounts of efforts trying to parse them or simply lying about them.

        • Nanotek

          your contextual precision is appreciated and enjoyed, TerryF98 …

        • Ray_Harwick

          Thank you Terry. I expect “Thinker” to now mime Herman Cain with “We don’t need a reader, we need a leader” to dismiss you *perfect* illustration.

        • nhthinker

          This is total crap. The issue is not just current debt: It’s spending, debt and future obligations/entitlements.
          It is also not just who is in the White house. A lot of it is who controls Congress. It is also not just what happened until 2008. If the chart went any further, it would need a totally different vertical scale to include the gargantuan debt for the years that Obama has been President.

          But let’s look at a more current graph just on debt.

          [img width=100 height=100] http://4.bp.blogspot.com/–aBlS9tf_HQ/Te5E_a0azbI/AAAAAAAAALE/d3yiXD7Hf9k/s1600/US_Federal_Debt_as_Percent_of_GDP.tif ][/img]

          Obama wins the debt war hands down!

        • ottovbvs

          That graph was bs. So how in 2007 were the Dems to walk out of Iraq and Afghanistan, repeal the Bush tax cuts, repeal medicare part D which was unfunded. The reason the deficit is a record % of gdp because we’ve just experienced the worst recession since the 30′s and tax receipts are at the lowest level since the late 40′s at under 15% of GDP partly as a consequence of the recession and partly because of the Bush cuts. Are you really autistic or just imitation autistic? And btw the Democrats aren’t in control of congress currently. I also see the president has said he’ll veto any attempts by Republicans to overturn the agreed sequestrations to reduce the deficit. You ok with that?

        • indy

          Mistakes I see just off the top of my head and to the best of my recollection:

          95-96 Republicans controlled both house and senate.
          03-04 Rebublicans had the house, and the senate was 50-50 with Darth having the tie breaker. This is a ‘split congress’?

          I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You discredit conservatives everywhere.

          P.S. Yeah, I looked it up and the 104th (’95-’96) was 53 (R) – 47 (D) in the senate and 234 (R) – 198 (D) in the house. The 107th (’03-’04) was 50 (R) – 50 (D) with Cheney having the tiebreaker and the house was 221 (R) – 210 (D).

        • nhthinker

          The graph listed 2001-2002 as Republican- it was not -
          Turncoat Jim Jeffords gave it to the Democrats- therefore 2001-2002 should list as split and not 2003-2004.

          The 1995-96 error for Congress control is a clear error, not just a clerical shift. The graph originated by LibertyUSArocks http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Federal_Debt_as_Percent_of_GDP_Color_Coded_Congress_Control_and_Presidents_Highlighted.png

          Not that any of these errors matter in terms of a graph to show the rise in percentage debt as a function of the President in office. TerryF98′s data was a full three years OUT OF DATE! Obama wins hands down as the king of the debt competition.

        • indy

          The numbers for 2010, 2011, and 2012 are estimates, something else the author neglected to mention. 20% of the colors of the bars are wrong. Given all this, it appears the author has an agenda or is really sloppy, so how trusting should we be that they got the rest right?

          I lived through the last 30 years so I have a pretty good idea at whose doorstep to place the massive fiscal mismanagement of the country (and it isn’t all with Bush). You and Terry can play with color coded charts all you want.

  • Traveler


    Great piece, even with the gratuitous obligatory straw man or two. One of the more coherent dismantlings of a political party I have ever read. Since I know you do read comments occasionally, I am pretty sure you will read these. You got a lot of lurkers to post today, with some very good commentary. RE and Annie hit as usual. The “noncollege educated whites” responded as expected ( even though I believe they actually did attend college). The comments over at New York were more generic. I am grateful to you for your efforts, notwithstanding your Israeli bias. Keep up the good work.

  • nhthinker

    Frum, TerryF98 and ottovbvs are not interested that Americans think the federal government is trying to do too much. Frum even disagrees with the vast majority of Republicans…

    But Frum can’t help it… his roots are liberal Canadian and he’s gone back to them.

    • kuri3460

      I would love to see Gallup ask a follow-up question to those who think the government does too much. NHThinker, I’ll ask you this question:

      What % of the Federal Budget do you think goes towards Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid to disabled citizens, Defense, Homeland Security, Veterans Benefits, and Interstate Highway Maintenance?

      • Ray_Harwick

        An appropriate question. This “thinker” cannot imagine life driving to work through a minefield of potholes, finding old people dying by the hundreds on a daily basis by starvation or lack of medical care, the Bloods & Mexican Mafia setting up control of central Los Angeles, veterans standing on every street corner holding cardboard signs. He seems to think there are money trees out there to take care of that, without even a remote understanding that, absent government intervention, **his** life is made a living hell.

        What was that comic routine George Bush came up with: something about “compassionate conservatism”?

        • nhthinker

          Large liberal government in California helped create the living hell that is L.A..
          Every time government in California has gotten bigger, their problems have gotten worse.

        • ottovbvs

          “helped create the living hell that is L.A..”

          If LA is living hell I can’t wait for my passing. I’m going there for three weeks in early December to experience the living hell….somehow I don’t remember it like this. Is this man insane I ask myself?

        • nhthinker

          The living hell description of LA was Ray’s…Why not take it up with her?

    • Traveler

      Hey, those are pretty informative graphs there from our thinker. Note how everything was pretty equal up to 2007, then this huge jump one way for the POGers, and a corresponding jump the other way for the Dems. The former was even more pronounced, resulting in the overall shift in the first graph. What could possibly explain this remarkable transition? Oh, a Kenyan came to call….

      Frankly, this confirms DF’s thesis quite graphically. Listen to enough Faux news, and this is what you get out of our electorate.

    • TerryF98

      Interesting that “Republicans” were happy as sand boys with big Government when Bush was pissing the surplus away, growing government by leaps and bounds with Medicare Part D and waging 2 dumb wars on the credit card. Not to mention the huge increase in the security state That only changed when the black guy got in.

    • ottovbvs

      Mickey Mouse abstract polls that mean zilch. When the waters are coming ashore or Republicans start proposing privatising SS, most people have a sudden urge for govt to do more. And as others have commented amazing how Republicans turned on a dime when the black guy came calling.

  • nhthinker

    56% of Americans is not just “Tea Partiers” thinking that the federal government is doing too much. You all advocating for expanding the role of federal government like Obama and Frum do, are in the minority and your politicians will get a significant drumming come 2012 elections.

    It’s you who are delusional about (political) reality.

    The deficit and deferred entitlements were the only way big government could have have their bender on spending and stay elected. Democrats and Frum liked to point to Europe and California as instructive for “efficiency” for larger government involvement. Well, Europe and California are now deeply in their own messes and the electorate will vote in people that will cut the federal government.

    • Ray_Harwick

      Christ this is inane!

      • ottovbvs

        “were the only way big government could have have their bender on spending”

        Deeply inane. As a matter of hard numbers 70% of this year deficit of roughly 1.3 trillion is the direct consequence of obligations assumed during the Bush presidency (wars, Part D, tax cuts)…the balance is the indirect consequence of action taken in the period 2001-2008 (eg. unemployment payments)

        • Chris Balsz

          How much of that unwanted 70% are the Democrats moving to cut?

        • ottovbvs

          The 70% is largely wars, part D and tax cuts. And making cuts in spending in the middle of recovering from a huge recession doesn’t make much sense anymore than turning a switch and leaving Afghanistan. The world aint binary. The Dems were willing to put some cuts on the table but the Republicans weren’t willing to move on the revenue front. Unless you’re completely stupid you know this as well as I do. So let the sequestration proceed and the expiry of the Bush cuts occur I say and the problem will be solved won’t it? You ok with that?

        • sdspringy

          That is the usual copt out of the Liberal. Obama extended the Bush tax cuts, couldn’t have passed without Obama signing the bill, it’s his, it’s his tax cut, if it results in increased deficits thats Obama’s legacy.

          With filibuster proof majorities for 2 years the Democrats could have corrected every wrong. Stopped wars, raised taxes, passed national healthcare, oh wait that happened. But the Dems didn’t stop any wars, didn’t raise taxes, didn’t fix the economy, didn’t create jobs. And in fact didn’t even pass a budget.

          So the smelly bed your complaining about is the result of Democrat policy, when you have a stinky finger, it’s your fault.

        • SpellCheck

          “copt out” should be “cop out”. “thats” should be “that’s”. “your complaining about” should be “you’re complaining about”. You’re welcome.

    • Lonewolf

      Yeah, but 1/3 of all Americans believe in ghosts, more than half believe that aliens are visiting us in flying saucers, and over 12 million believe that vampires exist. Those opinions are all popular, but it would be a pretty stupid idea to formulate federal policy based on them. Just because an idea is popular doesn’t mean it’s defensible, practical, not self-destructive, or even technically correct.

      One of the reasons many citizens believe the gov’t is “trying to do too much” is that they haven’t the faintest idea what the gov’t actually does, and how many facets of their lives it impacts positively, but invisibly. Nearly sixty percent of people who benefit from federal gov’t programs don’t realize they’re even on them! That’s hardly a decent baseline to gather legitimate, well-considered opinions about how effective the federal government is. Any statistician would laugh at you.

    • think4yourself

      @ NH “Democrats and Frum liked to point to Europe and California as instructive for “efficiency” for larger government involvement. Well, Europe and California are now deeply in their own messes and the electorate will vote in people that will cut the federal government”

      False. I don’t see Frum or many Democrats for that matter arguing the Europe and CA as models for efficiency (although many would argue that other models of heathcare are more efficient than America’s – but that is not the reason for Europe or CA troubles). Nor would I agree with your insinuation that Europe and CA’s problems are a result of big gov’t. There is plenty of blame to go around for the economic troubles we all have (which of course is the point of DF’s article, the GOP is happy to play politics of destruction and blame rather than addressing the symptoms of the problem).

      • nhthinker

        Mitt Romney on Hannity tonight:
        “I think he [Obama] is a rigid ideologue…I think he looks for his political inspiration to Europe. I think he thinks the Europeans got things right and I disagree….
        You would think he would figure it out, don’t ya? It is- his policies are bankrupt. The evidence is so stark, both internationally: look, his policy is saying ‘we’re just another nation, we’re not really exceptional; we’ll apologize to the world’ Let’s look at Iran… the greatest threat we face…Has he made progress there? no. Has he made progress with Israel? no. His efforts in Afghanistan? I applaud the fact that he was in favor of a surge…but at the same time he did not give them enough troops, he set a withdrawal date; he didn’t make sure the election of a new president in Afghanistan was fair- would have the support of the people. He’s failed on almost every dimension. And yet he continues to pursue the same course. It’s really inexplicable other than having a person that just does not understand America. And I don’t think he does…I don’t think President Obama understands what is unique about America… What is exceptional about America. I don’t think he understands that it is free people and free enterprise that make America the economic powerhouse that it is. I think he thinks that government bureaucrats- well intentioned- somehow can do a better job guiding our economy and our lives, than free people. And he’s wrong!”

        Romney is currently polling ten points ahead of Obama in NH.

  • think4yourself

    David, this is your best explanation of your evolution and that of the GOP. An outstanding article (I can pick on a couple of things but won’t). As your recent posts of shown, you have clearly been working on this for a while and it’s welcome. I especially appreciate your painful acknowledgement that while both party’s partisans are guilty the GOP have the buzzer with the highest voltage.

    I thought one of the most interesting points was at the end when you said ” The next Republican president will surely find himself or herself at least as stymied by this dysfunction as President Obama, as will the people the political system supposedly serves”, this is so true as we are in a political time of mutually assured destruction. The Dems will take a page from the GOP playbook and require 60 votes for everything and a hold on all appointments.

    I don’t see this changing anytime soon. Unfortunately the loudest voices in the room and the financial interests (Fox and radio) dominate the discourse.

    I hope you stay in the GOP and can effect change. A party that is the one you would wish it to be would certainly get my consideration. I would then vote for the individuals based upon who I thought best represnted both the Nation and my own personal interest rather than feeling like I couldn’t vote for anyone in the GOP because they are controlled by a Party who’s current principles are so destructive.

    Lastly, after your article was another interesting one by Jonathon Chiat called “When did Liberals get so Unreasonable”. This is a great counterpoint and well worth reading.

    • ottovbvs

      ‘This is a great counterpoint and well worth reading.’

      I read it, and it’s a perfect reading of the psychology of Democrats who are forever doomed to be disappointed. Paradise is always going to be postponed. As Chait points out Obama is clearly the most successful liberal president since Johnson and unlike him has a stellar foreign policy record. So all in all the nearest to FDR they’ve ever had. But all for naught. They’d rather whine about Geithner or imagined failings.

      • Traveler

        Yeah, but ain’t you one them dirty stinkin’ libruhls yourself? According to Balsz, you must be hypocritical, or a bigot maybe?

        • ottovbvs

          Perhaps I should have said the left side of the Democratic party. Anyone whose read anything I’ve ever written here must be aware I’m totally out of sympathy with utopianism. On the other hand I’m in favor of tolerance and whatever works in a 21st century post industrial society. I’ve no more time for the unadulterated Michael Moore view of the world than I have for that of Jim DeMint or Pat Toomey. This is one of the reasons I have such utter contempt for the idiocies of such as Balsz or the thinker because the one thing that is totally obvious is that neither of them do a lot of thinking. The only thing they think about is constructing rather pathetic defenses for personal prejudices. Frum’s conservative credentials are hundred times more solid than this pair but at least he shows signs of thinking about the issues. But having written this piece one has to wonder how Frum reconciles in his own mind remaining a Republican. (And c’mon Traveller since when have you ever suggested I was a pantywaister?)

        • Traveler

          Yo Ottovon, I was being totally sarcastic, and just playing on Balsz’ comment. When reasonably “conservative” people like you and me are regularly castigated as libs by the more rigid of the koolaiders trolling about, I had to give a shout out. I know you value coherency in thought as dear as life itself, and asperity awaits those who violate this dictum. So that rules out hypocritical for sure. I see no signs of bigotry either.

        • ottovbvs

          “I see no signs of bigotry either.”

          True if you exclude my bigotry against the stupid and one or two of the doofuses who wanted to marry my daughter

  • yhpso

    Good for you, David Frum. A man of character. I had forgotten what that looked like. You have really given me hope. Your article was terrific – very honest and straightforward. You may pay a price for it, but you are a better man than them. In the long run, you will survive.
    People know truth when they see it.

  • mtyson

    This is interesting. A few years ago, wanting to keep track of a conservative party that I felt had left me behind, I started looking for a moderate conservative writer I could read. So I found Andrew Sullivan, who ever so reluctantly watched a conservative movement he championed drift away from him to where he’s solidly on the other side. So then I started reading Charles Johnson’s Little Green Footballs, only to see him do a conservative mea culpa a year or so ago. Now Frum. Who remains near the right center?

    • TerryF98

      It’s not that these people are moving left it’s that the Republican party has moved way right and continues into crazyville.

    • Proud Independent

      I had a similar experience, but more as a disaffected liberal who is truly a fiscal conservative. I started reading Andrew Sullivan 10 years ago and then David Frum in the last two years. I think David’s article – and Andrew’s comments on the same –
      should be required reading for all.

      • Ray_Harwick

        Can I hear an A-men! David and Andrew; the two conservatives we depend on to *never* shut up.

  • ottovbvs

    Apparently there’s now empirical evidence watching Fox News make you more stupid


    Balsz and nh thinker please note. The effects could be irreversible.

    • Lonewolf

      Not more stupid; just less informed than if they had watched/read absolutely nothing about current events. Mind you, with the wilfully ignorant, mouthbreathing demographic Fox caters to, it’s difficult to tell the difference between receiving disinformation, and being incapable of rationally processing the information they are given.

    • nhthinker

      It’s not surprising otto goes ad hominem with a garbage poll.

      Totally unsupported poll and poll summary.
      “According to the latest results from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll, some news sources make us less likely to know what’s going on in the world. ”

      Only an idiot would believe they provided statistical evidence of such a conclusion.
      Causation and correlation are different properties and a university peddling them as the same should lose their accreditation.

      The big news in their poll was that conservative talk radio listeners were 17% better informed than those that did not.

      Also it jumps to the conclusion that people know the right answer because the person listened to the news source at least once during the past week.

      They do not describe if people had multiple sources of news, how they decided to categorize the person.

      Here are some totally unsupported claims that did not even asked questions:

      “Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that
      leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at

      “”Jon Stewart has not spent a lot of time on some of these issues,” said Cassino. “But
      the results show that when he does talk about something, his viewers pick up a lot more
      information than they would from other news sources.”

      The questions do not ask what news source the person got the answer from, so the conclusions by Cassino are statistically unfounded and a disgrace to the polling industry.
      Cassino is trained as a political scientist and seemingly not as a producer of objective polling. He even wrote a book entitled: “Consuming Politics: Jon Stewart, Symbolic Politics and the Youth Vote in America”

      FDU polling is not professional nor objective by any stretch of the imagination: but will liberals eat it up as factual? Of course the delusional ones will. Otto?

  • valkayec

    Mr. Frum, I read your article with great interest and much agreement.

    I grew up in a Republican household. My father grew up in the 20s and 30s in Missouri and “rode the rails” during the Depression, while in his teens, looking for work. His father, like so many in MS, joined the KKK in the 30s, perhaps as a way to obtain work. My mother, as did most women of her era, voted exactly as her husband and accepted his beliefs.

    I was different because my deep faith taught me to be so. I was very liberal as a youngster – a true believer in the words of Jesus and the Old Testament prophets regarding fairness, equity and the generous administration of charity – and became more moderate as I grew older. Today, I cannot define myself as either liberal or conservative, but a bit of both.

    Maybe because the Christmas season is nearly upon us or because I just finished reading Steve Berry’s The Third Secret, I both mourn for our political system and have faith that our people will chose goodness and mercy over the despot’s tools of fear and hate. To paraphrase Churchill, Americans always choose to do the right thing after all other options are exhausted. We do so because at heart we are a unique people – a people gathered from around the world who’ve felt oppression and fear and hatred and who long deep in our souls for honesty and compassion and equality of opportunity.

    Our system of governance has gone severely off track for all the reasons you stated, and because the GOP, by and large, has abandoned its moral center is a result of corrupting campaign finance laws (Citizens United, unrestrained lobbyist contributions, and pay-to-play committee membership). Winning at all costs has become the new GOP mantra regardless of the effects on the American people: the opposing party are enemies to be destroyed at all costs, so said Speaker Gingrich and his Congressional allies. These sentiments are still heard amongst many in the GOP. How can these sentiments be good for the country?

    I understand your stated desire for a smaller government with fewer regulations that taxes less. But I have yet to hear what that means for an interconnected, 21st Century complex world. Growing government for its own sake is not a choice any rational taxpayer would choose. But dealing with the complexities of this world requires a large and efficient government. Just ask the Vatican if not China or Germany. International competition and global complexities demands large governance, but it also demands efficient, effective policies that serve all people and businesses equally, with no one group favored over another.

    Can the federal government become more efficient and serve the people better? Absolutely. Even governments must evolve. Today I heard the slightly left leaning centrist Brookings Institute argue for more decentralization on issues relating to regional differences. As someone who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, I found myself intrigued by their propositions and wondering how those ideas could be put into practice in a way that produced the best and equal outcomes efficiently. What I hear from the entire GOP negates equal outcomes and efficiency as well as what is best for all our people, regardless of race, creed, culture, religion, gender, or orientation.

    The GOP, particularly since the end of the GW Bush presidency, has chosen to follow the path of division by remaining silent or giving credence to the worst elements within its ranks. Eisenhower remained mostly silent during the McCarthy era, perhaps fearing a backlash within his own party, and only spoke out once prominent liberals and the late, great Edward R Murrow denounced McCarthy and his witch hunts. Wm. Buckley bravely denounced the despicable John Birch Society and drove them out of the GOP. That the Birchers now have been embraced by the GOP discredits the reputation of the Grand Old Party of Lincoln.

    Perhaps it is your turn, Mr.Frum, to act as boldly as Murrow and Buckley. I wish you luck and sincerely hope that you will give much thought to a definition of your idea of effective, efficient government in a complex 21st Century. I would very much enjoy reading your ideas. I firmly believe that the correct policies are not “right” or “left” as currently defined, but what God would decree if we chose to listen to him.

    • nhthinker

      I firmly believe that the correct policies are not “right” or “left” as currently defined, but what God would decree if we chose to listen to him.

      Policies of government and God should be the same? How firmly is your belief in this?

      How do you reconcile your POV with:
      “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”

      No separation on church and state for you?

  • bobomet

    David, I am a life-long Democrat. I grew up in the 50′s and 60′s, in a central Virginia working-class community of mostly Republicans.
    I always believed, during those formative years, that the difference between us, politically, was so minuscule that we never raised voices over one another, and we listened during sometimes very-lively political debates.
    But you stated clearly in your book “Dead Right” how supply-side economics would create the economic pit we’re in now, and you all but predicted the same would destroy what was once the GOP, a group of folks I always learned from and valued as upstanding partners in this democracy.
    I am also very disappointed in what has become an extreme “left” faction of malcontents, that is as intolerant as the “right” has become.

  • Bird Dog

    My experience has been similar to yours, David, albeit smaller scale. I was a front-page editor at Redstate, starting in 2004. Not long after I started criticizing Rumsfeld for his mismanagement of the Iraq War in 2006, my front-page card was taken. After I criticized the conservative wing for its short-sightedness in nominating Christine O’Donnell last year, I was banned from the site. I’ve been a loyal Republican since Reagan was elected to his first term, and remain so. The troubling part of this is, if they ban moderate conservatives such as myself, then what’s left is an echo chamber, resistant to even the most constructive criticisms and challenges. In that environment, facts take a back seat to preferred storylines.

  • beowulf

    Frum, you’re a first round pick, excellent piece. I think the single most important structural reform (though Larry Lessig’s campaign finance plan is a close second) would be requiring “jungle primaries” (i.e. nonpartisan blanket primaries”) for congressional and Senate seats. You’d see more centrist politicians, who could draw support from across party lines, win office.

  • tfoydel

    I don’t think it would be useful to try to comment on such a long article by picking out one or two points to criticize. Overall I found the article interesting, but one overriding issue that I have with it is that while you ask the question of what has happened to the Republican party, you go on to answer it without really considering what has happened to the country over the past 12 years.

    For example, it’s one problem to have the private sector get carried away and create an Internet bubble. It is altogether different for the government to get carried away and create a housing bubble. Not only did Alan “Irrational Exuberance” Greenspan keep interest rates too low for too long, but as a whole the government prodded the market to make bad loans and then securitized them through Fannie and Freddie. (Doubt me? Then explain why taxpayers have sunk $170 billion into Fannie and Freddie so far.)

    I well remember the anger I felt on the evening of 9/11 when it had become clear that terrorists who had long been at war with us struck us here at home while we dilly dallied and did virtually nothing to contain and destroy them. How did our government get to the point where we could not successfully deal with a known and self-identified enemy. It took the loss of three thousand American lives before we went after a single training camp?

    Four years later it was Katrina.

    Then to top it all off we have the debt crisis. It occurs to me that when you are already $12 Trillion in debt there isn’t a lot of room for error when you have a crisis. Instead of waiting for economic downturns for government to stimulate the economy through deficit spending, we do it constantly, good times and bad. Just one long stimulation. And never a thought about how we are going to pay down the debt. Ever. And now we have crossed $15 trillion of debt, three years on.

    When your country is in a near constant state of crisis it forces the citizens to take a good hard look at the state of things and ask where are we headed? A lot of us have resolved that we are headed in the wrong direction. The federal government is no longer capable of handling its most important responsibilities successfully. But it’s supposed to run k-12 education? We can’t defend ourselves nor adequately respond to natural disasters, but let us formulate 3rd grade curriculum for all the nation’s school districts? Honestly, the government that tries to do it all ends up do nothing well. That’s where we’re at, and I have only mentioned the most obvious problems.

    All of the crises and our constant lack of fiscal discipline have convinced large swaths of regular Americans that we are off track. We must reign in spending whatever the short term pain. We must put our township, city, county, state and the federal governments in order, whatever the short term pain. This means by definition that we must realign our priorities. This is always a painful process, and I can understand why conservatives like David Frum would rather not have to deal with the tumult and disruption. There is a time for stability and order. And then there are times for disruption and realignment. Now is one of those disruptive times.

    If you had run your ideas through this gauntlet of crises and the resulting deflation of confidence in our government’s ability to manage any of them, I think you would have had a better answer to your question of what has happened to the Republican party. For decades the Republican position was to go along to get along. But now we are heading for a severe fiscal crisis and we can no longer stand by and watch, and be happy with compromises on liberal programs.

    Government used to work. Local governments maintained schools and parks and kept person and property safe. State government managed natural resources and state economies, and the federal government managed national defense and a few other national initiatives. I’m not interested in rolling back the last 50 years. I just want an honest assessment at every level of government of what we it ought to be doing, and then do it well and fiscally responsibly.

  • Political Rants » Let’s Look at the Politicians Who Profited

    [...] that included tax cuts for rather fewer Americans was an economic­-recovery program.” –David Frum, “Axis of Evil” speechwriter for [...]