AEI insiders: Frum’s a liar

posted at 5:38 pm on March 26, 2010 by Allahpundit

I know, I know, people are tired of hearing about him, but you got his side of the story yesterday so it’s only fair to give you theirs. We begin with this morning’s finger-pointing. “Donor pressure”!

David Frum told us last night that he believes his axing from his $100,000-a-year “resident scholar” gig at the conservative American Enterprise Institute was related to DONOR PRESSURE following his viral blog post arguing Republicans had suffered a devastating, generational “Waterloo” in their loss to President Obama on health reform. “There’s a lot about the story I don’t really understand,” Frum said from his iPhone. “But the core of the story is the kind of economic pressure that intellectual conservatives are under. AEI represents the best of the conservative world. [AEI President] Arthur Brooks is a brilliant man, and his books are fantastic. But the elite isn’t leading anymore. It’s trapped. Partly because of the desperate economic situation in the country, what were once the leading institutions of conservatism are constrained. I think Arthur took no pleasure in this. I think he was embarrassed. I think he would have avoided it if he possibly could, but he couldn’t.”…

Ask other AEI scholars how they felt about David’s mail and packages piling up outside his office. Frum, who will be 50 in June, had been on the payroll since leaving the Bush White House in 2003. He acknowledges he was very seldom at the office. But he maintains he developed and spread conservative ideas — AEI’s stated goal — with the 300,000 words a year that he writes for his blog, FrumForum.com; his weekly columns for CNN.com, The Week, and the National Post of Canada; his biweekly offerings for TIME and American Public Media’s “Marketplace”; and his three TV and three radio appearances in a typical week. He also landed Canadian Finance Minister James Flaherty for an AEI retreat last month that included donors. Frum tells us that regardless of his dismay with the party, he’ll stay registered GOP.

Well, two things about that. One: Spreading conservative ideas is also a goal of Townhall, but I assure you, if I decided to skimp on posting at Hot Air in favor of writing for some personal blog, I’d hear about it from the good people in payroll. And two: Is “spreading conservative ideas” really Frum’s main gig anymore? He does write about policy at Frum Forum, but the stuff he really seems to relish (and, unsurprisingly, gets the most media attention for) are his critiques of Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, etc. I guess his counterargument would be that in order to effectively spread conservative ideas, he first has to try to dislodge the “noise machine” or whatever that keeps grassroots righties from considering center-right solutions, but I suspect AEI expected more policy-minded output from him when they hired him.

But I digress. After the Politico piece hit the wires, AEI scholar Charles Murray jumped in at NRO with what he himself described as a friendship-ending post:

Regarding donor pressure: The idea that AEI donors sit down to talk with AEI’s president about who should and shouldn’t be on the staff, or what the staff should write, is fantasy. David has never seen the slightest sign of anything like that at AEI. He can’t have. He made it up. AEI has a culture, the scholars are fiercely proud of that culture, and at its heart is total intellectual freedom. As for the reality of that intellectual freedom, I think it’s fair to say I know what I’m talking about. I’ve pushed it to the limit. Arthur Brooks is just as adamant about preserving that culture as Chris DeMuth was, and Chris’s devotion to it was seamless.

I do not have any certain information to convey about David’s departure, except what Arthur Brooks has already said publicly: David resigned. He could have stayed. But I will tell what is common knowledge around AEI: David got a handsome salary but, for the last few years, has been invisible as a member of the institute. Being a scholar at a think tank (or any institution) is not just a matter of acknowledging your affiliation in your books and op-eds. It’s also a matter of blogging at the institute’s blog, not just your own blog (David had a grand total of 3 posts on AEI’s blog in the year since it began), reviewing colleagues’ drafts, reacting to their ideas, contributing chapters to their books, organizing scholarly events, participating on the institute’s panels, attending the institute’s conferences, helping out with fundraising, serving on in-house committees, giving in-house seminars, and mentoring junior staff. Different scholars are engaged in these activities to different degrees.

Conor Friedersdorf, who’s also been sharply critical of right-wing media and therefore is no natural opponent of Frum’s, decided to fact-check Bruce Bartlett’s claim that Frum told him AEI scholars had been silenced about ObamaCare. His findings: It’s simply not true, as a number of published op-eds and the AEI blog itself reveal. Follow the link to his piece for a slew of angry denials about being muzzled from the scholars themselves. Could be that Bartlett was misinterpreting something that Frum had said (or, I guess, just making it up), but one way or another, it’s bogus.

The coup de grace: Frum critic Tunku Varadarajan talked to a bunch of people at AEI and hit the wires just a few hours ago with a new piece alleging that Frum’s version of what happened is “quite, quite untrue.”

“David Frum resigned,” Veronique Rodman, AEI’s media director, told me last night. “His version of events is not true at all.” Frum’s narrative, of course, plays nicely into the Manichaean worldview of the likes of Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist, who blogged yesterday about l’affaire Frum. Deriving his lazy little blog item entirely from another blog—that of the economist Bruce Bartlett, who, like Frum, is a conservative apostate who regards himself as persecuted by his erstwhile fellow travelers on the right—Krugman accepts uncritically the view that Frum got the heave-ho because of his criticism of the Republican Party. What could be more natural, Krugman hints, than for a conservative outfit to take revenge on a turncoat?…

Insiders at AEI, to whom I spoke at length, told me that Frum’s version of the story is “quite, quite untrue” (as one put it). The truth, in fact, is that he was asked—unsuccessfully—to pull his weight at the think-tank. A fellow told me: “David didn’t come to the office very much, and long before his blog, Arthur [Brooks, the AEI president] arranged a lunch with him to talk about coming more often to the office to earn his salary.

“David had been asked to do that in the past, and hadn’t done it. Arthur said, ‘You keep the current deal [$100,000 per annum] and you come in more.’ Frum basically said ‘no.’” (Frum did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment).

Decide for yourself who’s lying and who isn’t. Exit question: Why cut Frum loose now, though? As I said yesterday, AEI had to know how this would play in the media. Why not wait three months to dump him so it doesn’t look like it stemmed directly from his Waterloo piece?


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Also, I thought my opinion of Frum was at it’s lowest (heretics are hated much more than unbelievers, after all), I not find that not only is Frum a selfish backstabber who’s not on our team, he’s also a deadbeat, malingering and vindictive leech.

Epic.

Lehosh on March 26, 2010 at 6:52 PM

err “I find that not only…”

Lehosh on March 26, 2010 at 6:52 PM

I’m gonna git me one of them thar hunnert thousand doller jobs. Thad be good, espeshilly iffin I aints got to show up.

bloggless on March 26, 2010 at 6:53 PM

Looks like he was as lazy in deed as he was in his thinking. They got little Frum him.

ray on March 26, 2010 at 6:53 PM

Actually, is this the same guy that I kept seeing write articles that criticized conservatives?

bloggless on March 26, 2010 at 6:54 PM

Based upon this latest report, I believe the man is a liberal.

bloggless on March 26, 2010 at 6:55 PM

Decide for yourself who’s lying and who isn’t. Exit question: Why cut Frum loose now, though? As I said yesterday, AEI had to know how this would play in the media. Why not wait three months to dump him so it doesn’t look like it stemmed directly from his Waterloo piece?

To pay the new Obamacare taxes . . . ?

PastorJon on March 26, 2010 at 7:01 PM

Why extend him the the cache of AEI when he is not earning his pay? If you pay for a commodity and you are not receiving it, why would you pay three more months for appearance sake? Tough economic times call a tightening of the belt for everyone and I see Mr. Frum as a whole/notch not worth the bother.

Cindy Munford on March 26, 2010 at 7:18 PM

I’ve read Frum on and off for a while but after his Waterloo post I’ve realized he is past any usefulness for the GOP or conservatism. It’s pretty much all about Frum now, an opportunist without any real conviction’s.
That said, anyone that believes the happy horsesh*t coming from Murray and the AEI, I got a bridge to sell you. If Brooks want’s to salvage what’s left of AEI’s credibility (not that they have much anyways) he should tell Murray to shut-up and just state why he fired Frum. What kind of gutless wonder is Brooks anyways?

lowandslow on March 26, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Especially now that he’s lost his sweet AEI gig, he can’t afford to change parties and lose his appeal to everyone else too.

JadeNYU on March 26, 2010 at 6:37 PM

Exactly. He’ll be some liberal site or channel’s token GOPer. And he doesn’t even have to vote GOP to get and keep the gig. No one will know.

Missy on March 26, 2010 at 7:24 PM

Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.

Well, money for nothin’.

It’s a good gig if you can get it.

SlaveDog on March 26, 2010 at 7:29 PM

I do not see Frum as anything close to Conservative. More than anything he strikes me as a Liberal declaring himself a Liberal to help push the GOP leftward.

Holger on March 26, 2010 at 7:45 PM

Exit question: Why cut Frum loose now, though? As I said yesterday, AEI had to know how this would play in the media. Why not wait three months to dump him so it doesn’t look like it stemmed directly from his Waterloo piece?

As I have always said, if it is time for somebody to go… Get the deed done, fast and clean or fast and dirty, either way, you can’t wait for the most opportune time, it will never come.

conservnut on March 26, 2010 at 7:51 PM

Decide for yourself who’s lying and who isn’t. Exit question: Why cut Frum loose now, though? As I said yesterday, AEI had to know how this would play in the media. Why not wait three months to dump him so it doesn’t look like it stemmed directly from his Waterloo piece?

Because in three months (or weeks, or days) he’ll be writing yet another shallow, vapid column bashing conservatives.

If they had to wait until a few weeks from the date his most recent anti-conservative column was written, Frum would be there forever.

Hollowpoint on March 26, 2010 at 7:58 PM

Good Lord, Frum and Brooks are boring. And their faces are ugly.

That’s my insightful, nuanced, and intellectually-astute comment of the day.

Animator Girl on March 26, 2010 at 8:00 PM

I wouldn’t want Frum in my foxhole. He would start speaking German during the Battle of the Bulge.

Speedwagon82 on March 26, 2010 at 8:10 PM

Decide for yourself who’s lying and who isn’t. Exit question: Why cut Frum loose now, though? As I said yesterday, AEI had to know how this would play in the media. Why not wait three months to dump him so it doesn’t look like it stemmed directly from his Waterloo piece?

Frum says something against conservatives every other week. The libtards in the MSM would just say he was fired for that most recent outburst.

Speedwagon82 on March 26, 2010 at 8:15 PM

For those of you that are not aware, Frum is a paid commentator for CNN.

bw222 on March 26, 2010 at 8:16 PM

Why do I think Frum and Brooks were figure skating in school while the real guys were playing hockey?

bw222 on March 26, 2010 at 8:19 PM

By picking fights with other conservatives, the guys was simply not doing his job – I mean, if I had that gig and spent the entire time railing against Brooks, Frum, Chris Buckley and Kathleen (who?) Parker? Arguably I’d be making the conservative movement stronger (or at least more pure) by doing after those squish d-bags, but the point of the AEI and similar institutions is to (1) sell conservatism to receptive Independents and disenchanted liberals and (2) provide support for conservative thinkers so that they can generate conservative scholarship and stand ready to take jobs in the executive when a Republican wins the White House (we need this, because Dems use the universities for that purpose). Picking fights within the conservative movement doesn’t accomplish those goals.

holdfast on March 26, 2010 at 8:29 PM

I love that Frum thinks AEI should keep paying him to do stuff he is paid to do by other people.

Speedwagon82 on March 26, 2010 at 8:31 PM

Typical Liberal.

The only person surprised is Allah

TheBigOldDog on March 26, 2010 at 9:12 PM

(David had a grand total of 3 posts on AEI’s blog in the year since it began)

Ouch. Wow. Just… ouch. They should have canned him 11 months ago.

Realistically, they can’t have wanted him to leave right now, can they? I mean, traffic is everything, and this firestorm must have been great for hitcount.

My guess is, when you’re disillusioned with your job and want to leave, every tiny indignity is another push toward “I should quit. I should just quit.” And you tell yourself “don’t be dumb! in this economy?!” but one day you just snap.

I’d bet money he heard “health care clusterf*ck” in the hallway once too often and just snapped. Said something indefensible to someone important, and forced their hand.

Tanya on March 26, 2010 at 9:14 PM

Frum is a bitter hasbeen, and has been that way for years.

His career was over because he was the author of the phrase “Axis of Evil”.

“Axis of Evil” made him damaged goods to the conservative fight because the phrase became the defacto infamous slogan of the necons.

“Axis of Evil” made him a perennial punching bag for the left, so anytime he appeared on a show and tried to make a conservative argument, “Axis…” was hung around his neck.

Frum, like Scott McClellan and several others, felt used, scapegoated and abandoned. His answer was the David Brooks approach – sell the GOP out to gain the good graces of the left and create his own conservative coda.

In the end, it bit him in the ass because he gained no traction among the intelligentsia and became more of an outlier to the right as Obama’s presidency has gone on.

Frum saw the mid-term writing on the wall and knew his position was in decline and would remain so through 2012. You do not hold the positions he has then slough off AEI and act as its normal business. He was bitter, borderline depressed and thought he could parlay this into a way out of his future obscurity. Instead, he’s ended his career.

budfox on March 26, 2010 at 9:20 PM

The only person surprised is Allah

TheBigOldDog on March 26, 2010 at 9:12 PM

I agree that Frum is a worthless douche, but not this part. I think Allah sees this part quite clearly.

As for Frum, eff him. I didn’t read his “Waterloo” nonsense, and don’t care to. This legislation was passed on November 4th, 2008, when the voters lost their minds for 12 hours. Not a single Republican voted for this socialist POS, so how could it be their fault?

I’m sure Frum suggested that this law passed because McCain was pro-life, or some such RINO bullsh!t.

Jaibones on March 26, 2010 at 9:37 PM

I mean, traffic is everything, and this firestorm must have been great for hitcount. …

I’d bet money he heard “health care clusterf*ck” in the hallway once too often and just snapped. Said something indefensible to someone important, and forced their hand.

Tanya on March 26, 2010 at 9:14 PM

I don’t know, Tanya. Doesn’t sound like there was anything to get a hitcount on, and it doesn’t sound like he was ever “in the hall” to hear anything.

Three posts in a year? Who even knew Frum was associated with AEI? Sounds like he got fired for not doing anything.

Jaibones on March 26, 2010 at 9:42 PM

Jaibones on March 26, 2010 at 9:42 PM

Right you are!

I foolishly assumed that the Waterloo post was on the AEI site, and it isn’t. Although people googling him may have shown up, it wouldn’t have been the main event.

Maybe they just got a clue and cut their losses. 11 months late and 90k short.

Tanya on March 26, 2010 at 9:55 PM

OK, so it has been finally revealed that:

Frum is lazy
Frum is a liar
Frum is self-obsessed

I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you! /sarc

Norwegian on March 26, 2010 at 11:06 PM

Frum made the simple mistake of evaluating a loss as not surrendering fast enough.

When Olympia Snowe went through all her contortions and Harry Reid called the Democrats effort with her “a mistake”, I knew not only was any change of bipartisanship was gone, but it never was in the hearts of the Democratic Leadership.

There is no upside to Republicans acting like Democrats, unless you plan on becoming a Democrat, like say .. Arlen Specter .. and even there the conversion while tactically a success, strategically it will be a failure as he will be unemployed next year.

J_Crater on March 26, 2010 at 11:54 PM

As is usually the case, I’m guessing the real truth here is somewhere in the middle. But even if he did get canned over the Waterloo piece, why is this scandalous? Is it too much to ask that the scholars (a term I’d use loosely to describe Frum under any circumstance) at a conservative think tank actually be, you know, conservative? Frum seems much more interested in his rank among the NY/DC hoi polloi than he does in exhibiting any sort of true conservative convictions.

NoLeftTurn on March 27, 2010 at 1:46 AM

Liberal in. Liberal out.

faraway on March 27, 2010 at 2:06 AM

Your exit question is more concerned with possible p.r. problems than the viability of a conservative think-tank. Sad. I guess someone is enjoying this chicken.

FeFe on March 27, 2010 at 3:32 AM

Who cares. I hope he goes back to Canada, breaks his arm and winds up like this guy.

Frum is and has been a disaster at every turn.

Good riddance.

russcote on March 27, 2010 at 4:41 AM

Exit question: Why cut Frum loose now, though? As I said yesterday, AEI had to know how this would play in the media. Why not wait three months to dump him so it doesn’t look like it stemmed directly from his Waterloo piece?

If you had an employee who you were paying $100,000 a year, and that employee refused to do something as simple as show up once in awhile, would you want to pay him $30,000 more just for appearances sake?

Frum’s lucky he got lunch out it. I would have sent him an email.

Jaynie59 on March 27, 2010 at 9:34 AM

if I decided to skimp on posting at Hot Air in favor of writing for some personal blog, I’d hear about it from the good people in payroll.

Why not wait three months to dump him so it doesn’t look like it stemmed directly from his Waterloo piece?

You contradict yourself and show how far from reality and how enmeshed in the “political culture” you are. Your first statement seemed do offer evidence you have a clue but I guess you just said that to sound “real”. AEI is a business, bottom line, and an employee had been coached repeatedly to perform his job better. His time ran out and he was given an ultimatum instead of coaching and he made a decision. In the real world an entity makes decisions because of real facts and consequences. In the “political world” the denizens of that delusional and foul place make decisions because of how it might be perceived. The only problem is that they are doing it for themselves. Out here, us great unwashed, the conservative ones anyway, watch the actions and results and could really care less about what you say. Sure we listen and debate opinions, but in the end a conservative philosophy is based on truth,history, reason and logic. Tell me what you think, great, but unless there is some of that in there then it will not color my conclusions. The delusional, self important, incestuous “political class” (that includes, democrats, republicans and media)and there strange little world they’ve created is why our country is in such dire straights. That is why the revolution must continue and grow. More Americans need to wake up to the fact that these esteemed pols, pundits and commentators on both sides look at each other as peers and as us as cattle.

peacenprosperity on March 27, 2010 at 9:38 AM

All of this is a soap opera created by beta males like Frum. Such paragons of female virtues cannot help but gossip about the latest drama from among the circle of drama queens they have become. Rarely do their articles debate actual policy. Instead, they meander on about how they feel as though America is meant to thrill upon every dip and turn of their emotional roller-coaster.

Frum has made his own bed by selling out his principles and reason. He ceased becoming anything that reasonably resembles a conservative some time ago. Instead he spent his efforts attempting to redefine and redirect conservatism onto a more left leaning track. All the while he was a good soldier for the left. He soaked up resources that were being paid by conservative organizations to further conservatism while he was sowed his discord. Frum is not a conservative at all, he is an agent of intellectual dishonesty meant to destroy conservatism with poisoned words. This is all done in the name of his precious “elite class” that he indicates he recognizes so often.

Hawthorne on March 27, 2010 at 11:42 AM

We have a Marxist in the White House who is attempting to take over every aspect of our country, millions upon millions of people are unemployed, our economy is on the verge of collapse, and ObamaCare is being forced down our throats.

And I should care about an overpaid, intellectually dishonest David Frum?

GrannyDee on March 27, 2010 at 11:44 AM

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