The Corner

Defending David Frum

I don’t find myself in agreement with David Frum about the health-care bill, but I do think some of the criticism directed his way this week has been overwrought.

David may be wrong about the Republicans’ “Waterloo” but it is simply unfair to impugn his motives. Tanku Varadarajan accuses David of “dedicating himself” to being a “polite company conservative” who “yearns for the goodwill of the liberal elite in the media and in the Beltway.” This is rot. 

I have known David for at least 15 years. He has staked out views in the past that put him to the right even of the conservative consensus. In his first book, he took issue with Jack Kemp’s idea for enterprise zones. Was he currying favor with liberals then? Don’t think so. He went on to work for George W. Bush. In any case, he was criticizing Kemp from the right.

David is unpredictable because he has an original mind and constantly questions his own assumptions. He has a very rare intellectual integrity that is refreshing and bracing. Sometimes he changes his mind. To paraphrase David Mamet quoting John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do sir?”

As I said, I disagree with him strongly about the health care bill and the Republican role. I think Republicans did exactly the right thing. But I continue to respect David very deeply and know that he has only the best motives.


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