Anyone who thinks the recent re-enactment of the Little Big Horn – more popularly known as the mid-term elections – was a clarion call to the Republicans to lower their voices, surrender hard-won territory in the name of civility, and generally return to fighting the Left with Nerf guns and balled-up Kleenex, will find no greater friend and exponent than David Frum. In the wake of one of the most dramatic political victories in US history, won through the sweat-equity of people he openly contemns, and in which he himself played no discernible role, Frum has decided that the front-and-center issue now is finding some other way to surrender to Obama, and he for one is going to do something about it.
For those of you unfamiliar with Frum's Steward of Gondor "abandon-your-posts-we're-all-going-to-die" shtick, here's a quick refresher from his negative attention seeking tour after HCR:
More recently Frum has teamed up with William Galston (former deputy assistant to President Clinton for domestic policy and recognized expert at parting gullible conservative pundits from their change-purses) to flog a nascent organization called “No Labels” of which he is a co-founder.
Over the next 12 months, No Labels plans to organize citizens' groups in every state and congressional district. Among other activities, these citizens will carefully monitor the conduct of their elected representatives. They will highlight those officials who reach across the aisle to help solve the country's problems and criticize those who do not. They will call out politicians whose rhetoric exacerbates those problems, and they will establish lines that no one should cross. Politicians, media personalities and opinion leaders who recklessly demonize their opponents should be on notice that they can no longer do so with impunity.
Now what could possibly go wrong with establishing “lines that no one should cross”? I’m just thumbing through my pocket Constitution on the off-chance there might be a problem … Oh wait!
An excellent example of Frum’s idea of “calling people out” is provided by Stanley Kurtz at NRO:
On July 27, 2010, I announced the forthcoming publication of my book [Radical-in-Chief] at National Review Online’s blog, the Corner. … [Frum] didn’t wait to consider my evidence or argument, or even bother to read my book. Instead, he invited a self-described Democratic activist who writes under the pseudonym “Eugene Victor Debs” to attack the very idea of my book — before either had read it.
I did reply to Debs, after which, to my surprise, the attacks kept coming, both from Debs and from Frum himself. … Oddly, since the actual publication of Radical-in-Chief, there has been not a word about the book from either Frum or Debs.
The announcement of the No Labels project by Galston and Frum makes perfect sense of all this. Given Frum’s response to the mere title and description of my book, it’s clear that the purpose of No Labels is not to engage those who call Obama socialist in a serious intellectual exchange, but rather to put their arguments beyond the pale of acceptable public debate.
One might be tempted to ask who died and made Frum the dowager empress in this matter, but anyone who has read his screeds against Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Hugh Hewitt – and anyone else whose audience, unlike Frum’s, extends beyond immediate family and friends – will tell you he crowned himself in the crystal cathedral of his mind a very long time ago.
The pressure point Frum seeks to exploit to enforce the civilized embrace of those who wish to destroy us is the hitherto undiscovered notion that independent voters are poised to punish anyone who doesn’t sell out his principals just to get something, anything done.
In another bipartisan post-election survey, fully 61 percent of independents - whose shifting preferences made much of the difference between the Democratic victory in 2006 and the Republican resurgence in 2010 - endorsed the proposition that "Governing is about compromise, and I want my elected officials to work with the other side to find common ground and pass legislation on important issues." Only 32 percent chose the contrary proposition that "Leadership is about taking principled stands, and I want my elected officials to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means that legislation on important issues does not pass." The majority of independents are calling for a new politics of problem-solving. Both political parties ignore this majority at their peril.
The survey to which Frum refers has of course more than one page – 34 of them in fact. For someone who prattles on more or less interminably about nuance, subtlety and context it is astounding that he missed the clear meaning of most of them while hurrying to cherry-pick that one stat. I would invite you to read the survey yourself and draw your own conclusions, but here is a list of some other pages and their summaries. Frum’s argument was based on Page 31.
Page 5: "Independents and Republicans feel strongly that the country is off on the wrong track, while Democrats are much more positive.”
Page 7: "While Democrats blame former President Bush and Republicans in Congress for the country being on the wrong track, Republicans and Independents blame President Obama and Democrats in Congress."
Page 12: "The primary motivation of Independents who supported Republican Congressional candidates was to check the Obama/Democratic agenda. . ."
Page 16: "A majority of Independents and Republicans wants to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for everyone."
Page 18: "2010 voters want to repeal the health care reform law and replace it with other reforms, with strong support for repeal among both Independents and Republicans."
Page 21: "The Tea Party movement is more popular among Independents than either the Republican or Democratic parties."
Page 28: "Republicans are more adamant than Democrats that their party should stick to core principles."
Page 29: "Not surprisingly, Independents believe both parties should move more to the center, especially Democrats." [Emphasis mine]
Page 30: "Independents and Republicans overwhelmingly believe President Obama should work harder to find common ground with Republicans."
Page 31: "A desire for compromise and working across party lines is one area where Independents think more like Democrats than like Republicans."
“Both political parties ignore this majority at their peril”? Really David? When you scan the totality of that document do you really come away with the conclusion that the independents really want, oh I don't know, semi-repeal of HCR – like perhaps only states east of the Mississippi compelled to purchase health care – or tax increases only for those rich enough to actually hire anybody? Do you really think, given the context of the other responses, and following two years of the most rigid, ideologically strident administration and Congress in living memory, the independents are looking for the Republicans to behave like Gumby?
Now, I know you and your compatriots over at "No Labels" are the closest thing to Jedi we have, but has it ever occurred to you that the only time we ever hear about this Marquis of Queensbury renaissance is when the Democrats have lost power? Does it not seem curious to you that false quid pro quo’s such as "MSNBC versus Fox", "racist tea baggers versus socialist Obama” etc. always seem to involve discredited and moribund instruments of the Left being offered up as a fair trade for effective and thriving weapons of the Right.
If none of these pique your interest, try this one. Have you ever wondered why that little pea never seems to be under the shell you choose, no matter how carefully you follow it?
You might want to ask your friends on the Left about that one some time.
(Cross-posted at NewsReal Blog)