Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Deserted...And The South Fell.

"I joined the Confederacy, served for two weeks, deserted, and the South fell"

-- Mark Twain (quoted from memory)
Longtime readers know that I have a theory...which is mine...which belongs to me...which is as follows...

(throat clearing)

This is how it goes...

(more throat clearing)

The next thing that I am going to say is my theory.

(clears throat)

Ready?

Conservative Public Intellectuals who have been drummed out of the NeoConfederate Fife and Drum Corps club for one minor heresy or another will always insist that the date at which the Conservative Movement went to shit is on-or-near the date they personally got kicked to the curb.

Now ordinarily if someone who had been on the public record as pro-arson for +20 years, who regularly partied late into the night with other arsonists at the "Let The Motherfucker Burn" bar down at the corner of Incendiary Avenue and Accelerant Boulevard and who, by day, had worked for and been richly compensated by the Arsonist's Guild for most of his adult life had been caught running away from yet another burning building, reeking of gasoline, carrying an empty gas can and a Zippo lighter...

...and that person tried to alibi out of the charges by insisting that, "No! No! I swear by the Mighty Agni, the Vedic God of Fire, that fire was was set by those other naughty people just as I was getting ready to resign from the Arsonist's Guild!", well that person would probably not be believed.

And yet, for the second column in a row, David Frum does exactly that: breaks out his Sharpie and draws a Big, Black Line through the Year of Our Lord 2009 as the moment when Conservatism went to shit.

For the record, early 2010 was when the American Enterprise Institute told Mr. Frum that while he was free to continue using their stationary, they would no longer be paying him $100,000 a year to type his opinions under their letterhead:
Conservative David Frum loses think-tank job after criticizing GOP

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 26, 2010

Three days after calling health-care reform a debacle for Republicans, David Frum was forced out of his job at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday.

The ouster also came one day after a harsh Wall Street Journal editorial ripped the former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, saying he "now makes his living as the media's go-to basher of fellow Republicans" and accusing him of "peddling bad revisionist history."

Frum made clear, in a letter to AEI President Arthur C. Brooks, that his departure after seven years as a resident fellow at the conservative think tank was not voluntary. "I have had many fruitful years at the American Enterprise Institute," he wrote, "and I do regret this abrupt and unexpected conclusion of our relationship."
...
Ironically, as Gabriel Winant reported in Salon at the time, not too many years earlier, it was Frum who eagerly played the role of Enforcer of Ideological Orthodoxy:
...Frum himself has played the [AEI President Arthur] Brooks role of the heavy in an intra-party fight before. In March 2003, he wrote a feature for National Review entitled “Unpatriotic Conservatives,” which amounted to an argument for why neoconservatives deserved supremacy within the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Frum tiptoed right up to calling “paleoconservatives” like Pat Buchanan fascists, and ended on this note:
They began by hating the neoconservatives. They came to hate their party and this president. They have finished by hating their country.

War is a great clarifier. It forces people to take sides. The paleoconservatives have chosen — and the rest of us must choose too. In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on their country. Now we turn our backs on them.
But there is a Club, and David Frum is a member, and so after wandering the wilderness for a few minutes, a place was once again found for him at the trough.

And then another.

And then another.

Which brings us up to the present moment, and David Frum once again revising the inconvenient history of Modern Conservatism so that Liberals never existed and David Frum was never wrong.
Debt Ceiling Deal May Be Struck, but the Crisis Is Not Over Yet

by David Frum Oct 15, 2013 5:45 AM EDT 
...
The American system has historically been governed by unwritten norms every bit as important as the formal rules of the House and Senate. Over the past generation—and especially since 2009—those norms have faded away, replaced by a new and more ruthless style of politics.

...
Why are American politicians playing so rough? We have moved into an era of scarcity. Once it seemed possible to have the spending Democrats wanted, financed at the tax rates the Republicans wanted, while paying for sufficient national security and running bearable deficits. That sense of expansiveness is gone. The trade-offs between Obamacare and Medicare, between spending and taxes, suddenly seem acute, imminent, and zero sum...
To quote Cholly Pierce singing from a different page of the same hymnal:
The conservative ability to rewrite their own history is a wonder to behold.
David Frum joined the NeoConfederacy.
Served for twenty years.
Was fired.
And Conservatism fell.

8 comments:

markh said...

HA! What a joy to be greeted by Anne Elk as I lay reading this morning! What a brilliant start to my day!

marindenver said...

Why are American politicians playing so rough? We have moved into an era of scarcity. Once it seemed possible to have the spending Democrats wanted, financed at the tax rates the Republicans wanted, while paying for sufficient national security and running bearable deficits. That sense of expansiveness is gone. The trade-offs between Obamacare and Medicare, between spending and taxes, suddenly seem acute, imminent, and zero sum...

That is sheer unmitigated bullshit. The only tax rates the Republicans have ever wanted is zero. It has been their relentless crusade to secure that goal that has moved us into an "era of scarcity". The poors, the olds and the middle class are getting squeezed harder and harder so that David Frum's overlords can live higher and higher on the hog. That "sense of expansiveness" never existed. It has always been a march to oligarchy.

Rick Massimo said...

Well done as always. My only criticism is that you give them the fig leaf implied in the term "Modern" Conservatism. This is the loophole that Sullivan continues to make a career out of.

You're not the only one who does it, but given how sharp you are at pointing out that conservatism has been like this for at least 40 years (more like 100, I'd say), it's particularly jarring.

Anonymous said...

Well done Driftglass.

Frum sobered up nearly the very second he lost his financial incentive to believe nonsense. This fact should be a footnote attached to every piece of work he produces, for it has direct bearing on how far one can trust his opinions.

-- Nonny Mouse

bowtiejack said...

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

John Kenneth Galbraith

bowtiejack said...

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

John Kenneth Galbraith

aimai said...

Well done Driftglass. Isn't this basically related to the phenomenon described by the following statement "A Slut is a woman who has one more sexual partner than the number I admit to having had?" To rephrase it in the instant case "A crazy, far right, lunatic is someone who advocates burning down the part of the government I benefit from, five minutes after I realize that I benefit from it."

MCPlanck said...

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” ― Upton Sinclair