March 25, 2009
In apparent response to a Wall Street Journal editorial that criticized David Frum as "the media's go-to basher of fellow Republicans," the American Enterprise Institute basically told him his services as resident scholar were no longer needed. ("You're fired!") On his Web site frumforum.com, Frum refutes the claim that he has been "peddling bad revisionist history." It all has to do with the dispute among Republicans over whether they could have reached a compromise over the health care bill. Frum ruffled some conservative feathers one year ago, when he wrote an op-ed piece attacking Rush Limbaugh for his harsh, polarizing style of rhetoric, which Frum said undermined the Republican Party's image in the eyes of independent voters. This past January, he criticized a new book by RNC Chairman Michael Steele as "a formula for narrowing the party into the fundraising arm of the tea party movement." I didn't always agree with Frum, but he is an honest, forthright voice of intelligent conservatives who are currently under siege from the populist wing of the party. He deserved better treatment than that.
This incident has sparked a frenzy of commentary by the political observers with whom I keep in touch via Facebook. Nearly all of them are appalled at the continuing degeneration of the conservative movement into a narrow, dogmatic social clique. Without fresh, critical voices, conservatism will never regain its former energy, and will never regain broad appeal in this country, which it had until about five years ago.
One thing that worries me is whether WSJ editor Paul Gigot is under pressure from on top to toe the "party line." He was always a clear-headed, incisive analyst when he paired with liberal Mark Shields on the PBS / Jim Lehrer news program. I hope he has not sold out.
* Technically, Frum was not fired, but was offered the opportunity to remain as a scholar without pay. Perhaps budgetary considerations played a part in this decision, and some speculate that a major AEI donor (or donors) demanded that Frum be canned. Hopefully, the situation will be cleared up in the days to come.
My friend and fellow Republican Carl Tate announced he is running for Staunton City Council earlier this month, and has just received an endorsement from all three local members of the Virginia House of Delegates: Steve Landes, Ben Cline, and Dickie Bell. See the News Leader. Carl worked for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington for a few years, and is currently midway through his studies at the University of Richmond Law School. He grew up in Staunton, and knows the community very well. He has served as Secretary of the Staunton Republican Committee for the past year (a post which I held for a few months in 2007), and remains actively engaged in healing the rifts which continue to plague the party. In short, he is a highly intelligent, dedicated, capable young leader, and would make a fine city councilman. Three incumbent members are running for reelection this year: Lacy King, Bruce Elder, and Carolyn Dull. (Elder ran as a Democrat against Delegate Chris Saxman in 2005.) In addition, James Harrington is running (unopposed) to fill the remaining two years of the term for which Dickie Bell was originally elected two years ago.
For the record, I think the people of Staunton would be better represented if the City Council were elected by separate wards, as is done in Waynesboro and most other small cities.
Steve Kijak called attention to a press release from the American Petroleum Institute regarding a bill that was introduced today by Rep. Bob Goodlatte and seven other congressmen from Virginia, including three of the six Democrats. The measure would accelerate the planned oil and natural gas lease sale offshore Virginia, which was originally scheduled for 2011, but has been postponed. The API says that new technologies more than double the estimated reserves of crude oil and natural gas, which would greatly enhance America's energy independence.