Jonah, Stephen, Charles, John et al: A reader accuses me of not having “the guts” to weigh in on the Frum/AEI split. Actually, life’s too short to get caught up in a dispute between Bruce Bartlett and Conor Friedersdorf, and that would still be true if I live to 112.
But since you ask, I’m an Occam’s razor guy. From Politico:
EXCLUSIVE: 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…
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.
So, by David’s own account, AEI should have been happy to go on giving him a hundred grand to do stuff he would have been doing anyway and for which he was already being paid. I mean, the National Post of Canada pays him to write for the National Post of Canada. It’s hard to see why AEI should also chip in. As for his other stated contribution to the cause, I’m not sure that hitherto I’ve ever heard the term “landed” applied to Canadian cabinet ministers. No disrespect — many likable chaps on the team — but I gave a speech last year and “landed” half the Canadian cabinet without even trying, never mind invoicing anyone a six-figure sum for the accomplishment.
I’ve shared op-ed space with David in at least three countries. He’s a much smarter guy than I, and he’ll be around a lot longer. But there’s a strong sense of diminishing returns about these Frum flaps. David is becoming famous only for attacking fellow conservatives — Novak and Buchanan back in his end-to-evil days; then, Rush, Glenn, Sean, and Sarah Palin; last weekend, it was Michelle Malkin for not mentioning his website by its name; and now AEI. At this rate, he’ll be picking fights with Barbara Bush by late spring.