David Frum’s missed opportunity
posted at 12:49 pm on March 23, 2010 by Slublog
I love David Frum. Not for his views on how conservatism should change, since his writings lately seem to consist of nothing more than finding new and interesting ways to criticize Rush Limbaugh while pretending to stay above the fray. My affection is based entirely on the fact that he’s given me so much material over the years. One of those posts was my first ‘promotion’ to the main page at Hot Air, so…thanks Dave!
So naturally, I couldn’t resist commenting on his latest bit of nuance. On Sunday, when the health care bill passed in the House, Frum decided that there was only one person to blame: Rush Limbaugh. His nefarious motive? There were beds to sell:
When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.
Of course, Frum has to ignore the fact that since 1988, Limbaugh has been making these arguments pretty consistently and Republicans have had some rather significant victories between then and now. Frum doesn’t stop at making a nonsensical argument, though. He tosses in a gratuitous insult for good measure, accusing Limbaugh of wanting the GOP to fail so can make us more angry which will increase the radio show’s ratings and allow Rush to sell more ads for Sleepnumber beds.
Frum’s insulting implication is that Rush doesn’t really believe what he’s saying, and that Limbaugh is only ratcheting up the rhetoric to increase his own personal wealth. It’s a remarkably nasty knock on Rush from a guy who only a few paragraphs before was urging moderation in political discourse.
Fast forward to today. The Wall St. Journal zings Frum, saying he “now makes his living as the media’s go-to basher of fellow Republicans, which is a stock Beltway role.” Frum’s response: how dare you accuse me of selling my views!
I do want to answer, finally, the Journal’s ugly personal remark. I worked on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page for three years. Through much of that time, one of my duties was to see into print the column written by Paul Gigot, now the paper’s editor. We know each other pretty well. Paul cannot seriously believe that my views are for sale. But if he did believe it, surely he’d credit me with the acuity to know where the highest price is paid: and that it’s not where I’ve raised my flag.
What’s most amazing to me is how effortlessly Frum jumps from accusing Limbaugh of selling his views to being outraged at having the same accusation made of him. A more self-aware writer would acknowledge that the WSJ accusations made him realize how insulting his previous rhetoric was toward Limbaugh. Such an acknowledgment would have been a classy move that might have ever-so-slightly decreased some of the antagonism between him and more conservative commentators.
Like the headline says, it was a missed opportunity, but at least we know now he’s a fan of Emerson.