Let's take for granted that they had it to begin with
November 20, 2011 9:30 PM   Subscribe

David Frum asks When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?
posted by garlic (185 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, but you don't need to be in touch with reality to stir up your base, win, and then get what you want.

Be very scared. Sometimes I wish I had a bunker.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:40 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


1964, Barry Goldwater. Done!
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:45 PM on November 20, 2011 [23 favorites]


When did David Frum lose touch with reality? His mom was so sane.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:47 PM on November 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


This isn’t conservatism; it’s a going-out-of-business sale for the baby-boom generation.

Okay, perhaps that's some cheap red meat here, but it does sum up the attitude in this article pretty well. Not a surprising read as I think Frum's view point has bee pretty well documented. I am struck, however, by how much he notes the tendency of others to hew to a party orthodoxy and then follows right along in his views of Obama as "big government" wanting democrat.
posted by meinvt at 9:47 PM on November 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


When Bush lost to Gore in 2000. Oh, wait...
posted by weirdoactor at 9:47 PM on November 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


When did people lose touch with reality?
posted by LordSludge at 9:53 PM on November 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


When they decided that they hated Obama more than they wanted the United States to avoid becoming a derelict wreck of a nation.
posted by chimaera at 9:57 PM on November 20, 2011 [89 favorites]


Pull quote: Conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment.

Yes. I'm currently writing a strange essay about George WS Trow's "Within The Context of No Context," where he argues that demographics replaced history. We identified ourselves with our demographic group (or a more desirable one like "Young Influentials") as a replacement for the disrupted links to social institutions that had historical continuity.

This is a particularly important model for Rovian politics. In the Nixon era, he was the master of demographics. He found out how to motivate selected demographics of one-issue voters to go to the polls, then those voters would go on to vote for his candidate too.

But that is probably beside the point. The GOP went mad long ago, when all the racist Southern Democrats left the party and became Republicans.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:59 PM on November 20, 2011 [20 favorites]


When did people lose touch with reality?

My theory is that it happens when you have a kid. Your worldview is so radically changed when that happens, everything shrinks to the size of a newborn and protecting it and providing for it become such a large part of your world, that the overarching perspective of the Greater Good (whatever that means to you) that infuses youth is lost. Maybe it's passed on to the kid, but from the point that kid exists I think reality is a different equation for a person.

But humanity and society has accelerated to a point that attempting to integrate that viewpoint alteration at such speeds results in near-complete detachment from reality.
posted by carsonb at 10:00 PM on November 20, 2011 [15 favorites]


People, we all died years ago.

In 1983 Stanislav Petrov stopped an order of russian nuclear attack, cause he did not belive the data given to him. It cost him his job and title but saved the world. That should not have happened, we should have been radioactive ash but his action caused a split in reality, a new future. We live. We exist, but we are in turmoil and buckling under the surreal stress of time disorientation. We should not be. We live inside a " The Man Who Has Everything" alternate universe and it is going to get worse before it gets better.
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 PM on November 20, 2011 [185 favorites]


reality is dumb and ugly. who cares about that BS?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:03 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Going back forever, people have decided which team they're on (either the red team or the blue team) and then vote accordingly. What their candidates believe is secondary to this. Which is why both sides are disillusioned with their candidates, because they ignore the blemishes during campaign season, but when it turns out the guy they voted for really is the guy he said he was they get upset that he wasn't the guy they wanted.
posted by no relation at 10:06 PM on November 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


But the message sent to others with less security was clear: We don’t pay you to think, we pay you to repeat.

It's at this point that Frum's essay loses all credibility. He's been shilling for think-tanks and conservative media for years, long before he became a speechwriter for Dubya. For decades he's either been repeating the talking point du jour, or writing it for his boss' speeches. Enough with these criminals.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:07 PM on November 20, 2011 [15 favorites]


Ugh. Did anyone read that Guernica interview linked in the main article? There is not a thing that man says that isn't some kind of excuse or misdirection. What a fucking slime.
posted by Hoopo at 10:09 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I’ve been a Republican all my adult life. I have worked on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, at Forbes magazine, at the Manhattan and American Enterprise Institutes, as a speechwriter in the George W. Bush administration.

It was before all that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:13 PM on November 20, 2011 [18 favorites]


Eighty percent of the net new jobs created in the state of Texas since 2009 went to the foreign-born.

Wow, somebody ask Rick Perry about that stat at a debate.

America desperately needs a responsible and compassionate alternative to the Obama administration’s path of bigger government at higher cost.

Basically, he starts from there but spends the rest of the article hoping for a sane center right moderate. David, Obama is the closest candidate to your views you will find, just accept it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:21 PM on November 20, 2011 [34 favorites]


Shorter: "We're finally so stupid that even we are starting to notice how stupid we are."
posted by fleacircus at 10:22 PM on November 20, 2011 [43 favorites]


In the aughts, Republicans held more power for longer than at any time since the twenties, yet the result was the weakest and least broadly shared economic expansion since World War II, followed by an economic crash and prolonged slump.

Maybe your answer lays there Dave. Try not to slam the door on your way out.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:22 PM on November 20, 2011 [39 favorites]


I am struck, however, by how much he notes the tendency of others to hew to a party orthodoxy and then follows right along in his views of Obama as "big government" wanting democrat.

And he even displays some awareness of the problem with this charge when he states "500,000 job losses in the public sector [and] the lowest tax rates since the Truman administration."

I think this is contradiction is a clue to the interesting question of who Frum thinks his audience is for this piece. It can't be the crazy -- he seems to know that he can't convert these people. But that little dig about Obama and "big government" and the rest of his attempts to establish his conservative credentials suggests that it's still focused at the right half of the spectrum, and I don't mean the Democrats.

So who? Is there *really* much remaining of the policy wing of the GOP, enough that could be awakened into a real force to counter the crazy? I think Frum thinks there is, and he's trying to rally them, or at least tell them they're not alone.

It will be interesting to see if he's right. I have my doubts.
posted by weston at 10:22 PM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


The red photos with the stupid quotes should alert most people to the anti-tea-party tone. The guy is definitely losing his political religion, but still believing in the cause. From page 3:

But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics. Outside this alternative reality, the United States is a country dominated by a strong Christian religiosity. Within it, Christians are a persecuted minority. Outside the system, President Obama—whatever his policy ­errors—is a figure of imposing intellect and dignity. Within the system, he’s a pitiful nothing, unable to speak without a teleprompter, an affirmative-action ­phony doomed to inevitable defeat. Outside the system, social scientists worry that the U.S. is hardening into one of the most rigid class societies in the Western world, in which the children of the poor have less chance of escape than in France, Germany, or even England. Inside the system, the U.S. remains (to borrow the words of Senator Marco Rubio) “the only place in the world where it doesn’t matter who your parents were or where you came from.”
posted by Brian B. at 10:30 PM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Creationism is rock solid science compared to typical conservative economic and governing theory.
posted by maxwelton at 10:31 PM on November 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


Frum isn't dumb, and often I think that he is correct about the general problems (esp. in his book on the 70s) but bad on the solutions. He is getting much better at not being so much of a whore--and seems to be afraid of the republican party. I think we need to have a lot of ideas on the table to figure out what to do next, I do not want to be ideologus enough to lose out on hearing good ideas.

I also think as a 30 year old, the boomers of the right and left have no feasible plan to make sure we are going to be okay, and my fellow 30 year olds are working thru the post-structual tickle truck without the firm historgraphy of Foucualt or Derrida....
posted by PinkMoose at 10:32 PM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


David Frum appeals to all those people who think the Republicans should unload all those white philistines, especially those in the South. He's been whining about the GOP for at least two decades. That's all he does.
posted by Yakuman at 10:33 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mr. Frum is pretty damned reasonable despite being republican, I'm disappointed but not surprised to see some mefites pissing on this article.

"The conservative shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology has ominous real-world consequences for American society. The American system of government can’t work if the two sides wage all-out war upon each other"

Isn't this kind of thinking EXACTLY what America needs: people who aren't in total agreement but above the bullshit?
posted by hellslinger at 10:34 PM on November 20, 2011 [42 favorites]


The problem with following Frum's logic is, he's half sane. He is still looking back at Reagan as some sort of golden age of Republicanism and in his heart of hearts really believes all the rhetoric about big government and such, but doesn't get that his heroes of less government were the same people who sent the national debt through that stratosphere, wanted to nationalize 7-11 and to save us all from The Beach Boys.

Maybe, someday, he'll come to the realization that no one was ever really interested in smaller government, except for eliminating the part that prevented them from screwing their customers and employees over and getting away with it.

Maybe someone should buy him a book on Eisenhower or something.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:36 PM on November 20, 2011 [33 favorites]


My guess is that they started losing touch with reality when they started courting the religious right.
posted by treepour at 10:36 PM on November 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Whelk, that makes more sense than it should. I enjoy telling people about Petrov saving us all, but now I see the world is demanding penance for letting us get to that point. Our generation has lived life on this granted time, and we have inherited a huge debt to pay. I still distrust Frum, but I'll be happy to accept this step away from total madness. Better Reagan than Dubya. Better Eisenhower than Reagan.
posted by Saydur at 10:39 PM on November 20, 2011


Isn't this kind of thinking EXACTLY what America needs: people who aren't in total agreement but above the bullshit?

Yes, so let me know when/if Frum rises above the bullshit.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:41 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


If the social order comes to seem unjust to large numbers of people, what happens next will make Occupy Wall Street look like a street fair.

This struck me as right. And it explains why smart, filthy rich people like Buffett are trying to get the government to take more of their money. The calculation is like, "If I give up 5% now, I won't have to give up 90% (or worse) later on."

As to when the right lost touch with reality, I'm pretty well convinced it happened with Reagan.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:42 PM on November 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


When did liberals become so unreasonable?
posted by garlic at 10:43 PM on November 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


I didn't read the whole thing. Was it after Ike's administration?
posted by Brocktoon at 10:53 PM on November 20, 2011


When did people lose touch with reality?

My theory is that it happens when you have a kid.


Your theory is wrong.
posted by incessant at 10:53 PM on November 20, 2011 [27 favorites]


I'm disappointed but not surprised to see some mefites pissing on this article.

He's pointing out the obvious while slipping in excuses for his involvement in getting us to this point and taking subtle cheap shots all along the way. It's sad that calling the sky blue is what passes for "smart" and "reasonable" these days. He's telling you what you want to hear so you'll listen to the rest of his dogma. Some of us are on to Frum's game after 10 years of this crap.
posted by Hoopo at 10:54 PM on November 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


I saw—with shut eyes, but acute mental vision—I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together.
posted by the_artificer at 10:54 PM on November 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


My theory is that it happens when you have a kid.

I can say for myself that isn't true. Most of my political engagement is predicated on the abject horror I have of what kind of world my daughter will have to live in if we continue on our current path of destruction.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:00 PM on November 20, 2011 [21 favorites]


Good article. I thought this was interesting, and may well be true:
When contemplating the ruthless brilliance of this system, it’s tempting to fall back on the theory that the GOP is masterminded by a cadre of sinister billionaires, deftly manipulating the political process for their own benefit. The billionaires do exist, and some do indeed attempt to influence the political process. The bizarre fiasco of campaign-finance reform has perversely empowered them to give unlimited funds anonymously to special entities that can spend limitlessly. (Thanks, Senator ­McCain! Nice job, Senator Feingold!) Yet, for the most part, these Republican billionaires are not acting cynically. They watch Fox News too, and they’re gripped by the same apocalyptic fears as the Republican base. In funding the tea-party movement, they are ­actually acting against their own longer-term interests, for it is the richest who have the most interest in political stability, which depends upon broad societal agreement that the existing distribution of rewards is fair and reasonable.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:06 PM on November 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


From Chait's article, linked by garlic above: The Occupy activists abhor anything that would force any member to subsume his or her individual autonomy to the greater good. Did the drum circles drive everybody else to distraction? Too bad—you can’t tell the drummers what to do, man.

What the what?

(Not only does it get the facts about the drummers at Zuccotti flatly wrong, it paints the OWS crowd as a bunch of arch-libertarians who care more about individual autonomy than the general welfare. Bizarre.)
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 11:06 PM on November 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


I assume that OWS thing is a complete misunderstanding of the core precept about members being equals and not having One Spokesman, but at the same time it illustrates such a complete lack of comprehension that I'm kind of amazed the writer's hands haven't fallen off because he wasn't capable of understanding how to keep them attached to his wrists
posted by titus n. owl at 11:29 PM on November 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


Wait. Wait. The Republicans were at some point in touch with reality?

Tell us about it, Grandpa. We love to hear tales of mythical beasts.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:31 PM on November 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'd say it happened when they decided to inform their platform by people already waaay out of touch with reality. They couldn't settle for bake sale, bingo, and patent leather shoes Christianity, oh no. They had to rip off their Arrow shirts and belly flop into the Crazy Mud, wrestling every pig they could lay their hands on. Once a few nominally respectable types jumped in, all of the sudden you had everyone in the GOP mud wrestling pigs as a matter of course, a given. Today the stench from the sty is so putrid it could melt the eyebrows off a vulture a hundred yards away, and the only way we'll be rid of this madness is to hose the whole thing down.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:37 PM on November 20, 2011 [15 favorites]


They had to rip off their Arrow shirts and belly flop into the Crazy Mud.

Psychopathic Bankers bring you the Gathering of the Repubbalos!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:44 PM on November 20, 2011 [26 favorites]


People lost touch with reality long, long ago. Nobody knows the difference between currency, money, and debt, and think they are all the same thing. As long as they can pay the interest, most people will borrow more than they can ever repay realistically... they only worry about cash flow.

We have declared war on savers, and use the zero interest rates to reward speculators by letting them keep profits and to put a cherry on top of it, when they bet wrong, we bail them out and socialize their losses.

There are crimes committed that we really need a new term, Giga-Theft, to handle the crimes a million times bigger than grand theft. It would be nice if a conviction made the perpetrator eligible for capital punishment (no pun intended).

Corporations are people, camping is a terrorist act, and we import most of our energy.

I really, really worry about what my daughter is getting set up to have to swim through. I worry about public schools that are ready to turn out workers for the 19th century. I worry about the police state that is starting to feel like a slightly more efficient version of the Stazi.

No, having a kid does not make your world view shrink... it makes you watch the horizon, and look much further out, past your lifetime.
posted by MikeWarot at 11:51 PM on November 20, 2011 [21 favorites]


He's thinking that Republicans have turned into a political party of fools, dupes and moneyfuckers; he thinks he hasn't.

I'd say he's half right.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:34 AM on November 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think he's right about conservatism evolving into a market segment, and Mr. Frum himself is an excellent example of that. When his stock fell and he became unsalable to the usual markets, Frum's opinions began to diverge from consenus and become more sensible. By contrast, someone like Rush Limbaugh who is very much in demand is the conservative equivalent of Mickey Mouse - a character finely adapted to give the audience what it wants.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:51 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's at this point that Frum's essay loses all credibility.

People said the same kind of tired shit about Andrew Sullivan. Frum could have stayed a conservative hack if he wanted to, for the rest of his life, and been well compensated for it. He decided to speak his mind, instead. I welcome anybody who wants to join the ranks of the sane.
posted by empath at 1:13 AM on November 21, 2011 [39 favorites]


I had the same reaction as hellslinger. I didn't read the article expecting David Frum (or any Republican) to have an identical worldview to mine, so I was heartened. I found it pretty reasonable and it made me feel better to read a Republican voice a lot of the same concerns I have about where the Republican party is headed. I appreciated the favorable things he was willing to admit about Obama and his concessions of where and how badly Republicans have been wrong. I also appreciated that he didn't mince words, e.g. calling some conservative beliefs and facts "imaginary" and calling Obama "intelligent" and "dignified."

I'm not going to say that his past should be overlooked, but I found myself disappointed at the degree of cynicism expressed here. I'm not sure what people expect of Republicans at this point -- or more generally, what anyone expects from anyone who disagrees with them politically. It's not okay for him to have been less reasonable in the past, so it's not okay for him to be more reasonable now either? Considering how any Republican saying the things Frum is saying gets eaten alive by the loudest and most delusional of their party, I can't bring myself to discourage other Republicans from doing the same thing by using their criticism as an occasion to say, "HEY, YOU WERE BAD ONCE AND THAT'S IT, NO ONE WILL REWARD YOU FOR BEING REASONABLE EVER."

I also sort of wonder if some people are simply reacting to Frum's name and didn't read the article. I'm not accusing anyone in particular; maybe I just want to believe that being reasonable, even if it takes some time to get there, is generally rewarded by our society and political system, and if it isn't, I hate to see those on the left perpetrate that. Frum talks about how politics has devolved into Republicans scoring "revenge" points at the cost of what's actually best for the country, and some of the stuff in this thread that basically seeks to use the article as an excuse to bash Frum for things he's done in the past rubs me in a similar way. If you want people to quit having crazy views, then it's a good idea to not rub their face in it too much when they change their mind; a good chunk of the defensiveness people feel about admitting they were wrong is not wanting to be called a hypocrite and run through the wringer. People hold on to crazy views because it becomes a part of their identity, and they don't want that attacked. When people are not judged as if those views are a part of their identity, it is actually easier for them to let go of them.

I get that some people, for whatever reason, take issue with the actual substance of the article and whatever they feel he's still wrong about, and I guess there's nothing I can say to that except that I don't care as much about those same things, apparently; I find those to be forgivable things I can overlook, as opposed to the absolute crazy stuff the tea party advocates. I expect that I will disagree with Republicans, and ultimately I just want political opponents to make me think "that's a bad idea" instead of "this is going to ruin the country." The points where my views and Frum's diverge seem to fall solidly into "that's a bad idea" and I'm okay with that. But if instead someone agrees with the things he's arguing about what's wrong with the Republican party, then I think it's a harmful attitude to assert he's somehow permanently and irredeemably a horrible person. I'm not arguing for a blank slate but the best time to attack Frum on all the things he did in the past was, well, in the past. If you want the future to be different, then allow it to be different. If you just want a punching bag, then the Republican party is recruiting. What exactly is the fear, here? That tomorrow he's going to write a retraction where he's like, "HAHAHA, I FOOLED YOU LIBERALS, I DIDN'T MEAN A WORD OF IT! AND YOU WERE SO NICE ABOUT IT!" and you'll feel stupid that he got one over on you?
posted by Nattie at 1:29 AM on November 21, 2011 [84 favorites]


Psychopathic Bankers bring you the Gathering of the Repubbalos!

Fans of the Insane Corporate Party.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:31 AM on November 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


This article is just Concern Trolling. I'm suprised nobody has pointed that out.
posted by seanyboy at 1:42 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The movement got most of the big questions—crime, inflation, the Cold War—right - ummm
posted by the noob at 2:17 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


A Republican concerned about the direction of the Republican party isn't a concern troll, they are genuinely concerned.
posted by mek at 2:18 AM on November 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


My opinion is that the Democratic Party conceived this as a cunning way of wiping out the Republicans.

Political parties succeed by conquering the middle ground and they lose by pandering to their extreme elements. The Democrats silenced their left wing and presented moderate candidates and a moderate platform. They accommodated Republican positions so gracefully that Republican politicians couldn't believe their luck: lurching forward eagerly, they grasped at ideological positions newly exposed by the shifting tide. They didn't notice that the new positions were increasingly awkward and indefensible; they didn't notice that their followers had were no longer conservatives but radicals, obsessed with ideology and revolution.

The new mob wants nothing more than to keep moving forward. Any conservatives were left behind long ago; only two sorts of leaders remain. The first sort marches ahead but seeks direction from the mob at their back: am I going the right way? where are we going? These leaders have no principles of their own: they were too dull to think of any or too spineless to hold them.

The second sort of leader is more confident: they have fix their gaze at the horizon - not necessarily at a fixed point on the horizon - and they will keep marching until they are dead or irrelevant. In the mean time, the Democrats squat on the middle ground and will hold it in perpetuity.

tl;dr - Barack HUSSEIN Obama killed the Republican Party!
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:12 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


People, we all died years ago.

In 1983 Stanislav Petrov stopped an order of russian nuclear attack, cause he did not belive the data given to him. It cost him his job and title but saved the world. That should not have happened, we should have been radioactive ash but his action caused a split in reality, a new future. We live. We exist, but we are in turmoil and buckling under the surreal stress of time disorientation. We should not be. We live inside a " The Man Who Has Everything" alternate universe and it is going to get worse before it gets better.
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 PM on November 20 [44 favorites +] [!]



The Whelk, I urge you to contact the BBC and write this Dr Who episode forthwith.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:30 AM on November 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


This past summer, the GOP nearly forced America to the verge of default just to score a point in a budget debate. In the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, Republican politicians demand massive budget cuts and shrug off the concerns of the unemployed. In the face of evidence of dwindling upward mobility and long-stagnating middle-class wages, my party’s economic ideas sometimes seem to have shrunk to just one: more tax cuts for the very highest earners.

Well there you go. Never thought I'd see David Frum becoming a member of the reality-based community, but that's a pretty solid start; welcome, sir.
posted by flabdablet at 3:35 AM on November 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


He may be a signed up republican mek, but he states in the article that he doesn't believe in Republican principles any more.

I'd have more sensitivity to your assertion that he was actually concerned if the main thrust of the article wasn't "I love republican principles, but I'm concerned the party is full of nothing but crazy people."

That's pretty much your matchbook definition of concern troll just there. That you're trying to play it off as merely "concern" ignores the great many people who are (a) good people and (b) ideologically different to you.

From what I can tell, this is just a bitter old man who's trying to damage a party that doesn't think he's as important as he himself thinks he is.
posted by seanyboy at 3:35 AM on November 21, 2011


I don't know David Frum from a goddamned hole in the ground but this thing was an extended exercise in excusing the lunatics and douchebags that have run your country into the ground for the last 30 years by throwing the newer and truly cartoonish (and demonstrably stupider and more venal) lunatics and douchebags whose way was paved by the earlier pack of scoundrels to the dogs.

It also seems to me a self-serving public announcement to those remaining in the conservative cadres who are reasonable and reasonably intelligent -- just in case the loony fringe doesn't completely gain ascendancy -- that this Frum fellow is ready and willing to toady up to them when the time comes.

Shrug. I've spent most of the last 30 years since I first started paying attention to politics being all common-groundish and peace-love-and-understandingy. I'm beginning to think the time for that is past... I'm not sure anything short of the kind of thing the OWS gang is attempting is going to do much good. The pendulum that marks out the fringes has been swinging further -- much as I would never have believed it possible back then -- with each long cycle, and less and less seems to be outside the pale to keep people fearful, docile, browbeaten and so busy struggling just to make ends meet that they have neither time nor energy to imagine a better way.

I have great respect for people who in matters political -- American political, in particular -- are willing and able to keep some kind of faith in the system and open-mindedness in their dealings with The Shareholders and their PR people. That's a lot harder than just trying to talk in good faith with other citizens with whom they disagree, which is hard enough in and of itself, thanks to the way the media has managed to poison the well of discourse. I do respect that kind of equanimity, but I'm feeling it less and less these days.

Maybe I'm just getting old and tired -- no, I am definitely getting old and tired. But I sure hope things are getting ready for one of those 3-decade changeroos that have seemed to emerge in the past, because if not, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better, I'm afraid.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:36 AM on November 21, 2011 [14 favorites]


Rep: Because we need to reduce big government now! Time is now! We need to abolish the Department of .... of.... are we talking about the same subject? Just to make sure that you know, which big government don't you want to abolish?

Innocent bystander: The Ministry of Truth?

Rep: YES indeed we need to abolish the Ministry of Truth, big government, Obama! Nyaaa ! And... and we need to abolish..also...surely...the evil..whatwasitname..?

Innocent bystander: The evil Ministry of Silly Walk?

Rep: YES YES The Ministry of Silly Walks!
posted by elpapacito at 3:37 AM on November 21, 2011


I think the fear, if by fear you mean knowledge obtained through painful experience, is that a Republican party that still buys into all those Reagan era buzz phrases is going to be the Republican party we have now if a few years.

Look back at the past thirty years and you'll see the Republicans were all over the notion of getting the government involved in more and more things if those things courted the religious right or would allow them to thump their chest and say they were being hard on crime, communism or terrorism. The only smaller government we've ever gotten was fewer regulations, inspectors and auditors.

And what are our the major issues getting press these days? Issues of banking regulation, environmental regulation, food safety regulation - the list goes on and on. Despite this, Frum is crowing for this notion of "small government" again and again in this piece.

When Frum writes an essay in which he demands a government that is big enough to properly do its job, and is willing to include all the reasonable expectations in his job list, I'll say he's being reasonable. Right now he's rejecting the conclusion but continuing to embrace the postulates.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:38 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yet, for the most part, these Republican billionaires are not acting cynically. They watch Fox News too, and they’re gripped by the same apocalyptic fears as the Republican base.

I can never decide whether Rupert is in fact as purely evil as he must surely be if he hasn't simply eaten too much of his own dog food.
posted by flabdablet at 3:51 AM on November 21, 2011


Right now he's rejecting the conclusion but continuing to embrace the postulates.

Frum: Yet conscious cynicism is much rarer than you might suppose. Few of us have the self-knowledge and emotional discipline to say one thing while meaning another. If we say something often enough, we come to believe it. We don’t usually delude others until after we have first deluded ourselves.

Bloke is a reality n00b. Give him time. He'll join the dots eventually.
posted by flabdablet at 3:53 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Any recommendations for adding this to Instapaper? It doesn't seem to like the print page.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 4:04 AM on November 21, 2011


He may be a signed up republican mek, but he states in the article that he doesn't believe in Republican principles any more.

People's principles can change, Republican party principles can change, people who identify as Republican can find themselves removed from the category via either mechanism. If your definition of "concern troll" is so broad that it includes anyone articulating concerns about a group to which they no longer belong, well, I guess you can label me a concern troll troll and ignore everything I have to say. Because I find that concerning.

There's a ton of things wrong with Frum but troll is not one of them. He really is an oldschool Republican that is imploding in slow-motion.
posted by mek at 4:09 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Okay, first of all, as his bit about not getting booked on talk shows anymore revealed, this is self-centered whining about a loss of relevance for himself, not the party in general. Republicans won tons of elections last year by being tremendous assholes. Frum, who opened his article talking about all the stuff he helped George W. Bush accomplish as if that wasn't also the worst administration in two generations, is complaining that he's now less influential after the rise of tremendous assholes because he's merely an enormous asshole.

So yeah, the premise seems kind of faulty when the idea is "where did the GOP lose its way" in the face of "the GOP just won the largest Congressional and state/local landslide in recent history by being exactly this way." So, I guess this is great fodder for the NY Magazine crowd, who I imagine might just be the type of people who would enjoy the comfort of a disgruntled conservative telling them that the reason conservatives just won sweeping elections across the country was because of how fucked up they are, and not because of how goddamn awful Democrats are. It's interesting how in a few thousand words about the errors of the Republican party Frum failed to note anything about what Democrats plan to do about it, because even as a "cast aside" conservative Frum still doesn't care. For all he's said he still supports the Republican principle of Republicans winning elections. This article is merely one half of the observation that right now, we have two political parties whose success is determined almost entirely at this point by how big the other party fucks up.

In completely unrelated news, the "SuperCommittee" will announce this morning that, and please try not to shit your pants in surprise over this, they failed completely to reach any kind of deal about deficit reduction because Republicans destroying the country and then blaming Democrats for not stopping them is fucking working for them. A trillion dollars in cuts to both Medicare and the military are now "triggered," cuts that a handful of White House sycophants both on this site and elsewhere smugly insisted could never possibly happen, and the GOP now has their top issue of the 2012 election in the form of voting to restore defense funding which any Democrat who doesn't want to be accused of "supporting cuts to troops' salaries" will roll over for immediately.

So, yes, okay, fine. Republicans have "lost their way" in the way that one might "lose their way" by getting incredibly drunk at the bar and instead of stumbling back to their apartment have somehow found themselves naked in a hot tub at the Playboy Mansion. Somehow they don't seem too unhappy about where they ended up.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:16 AM on November 21, 2011 [36 favorites]


When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?

Three words...Contract With America
posted by Thorzdad at 4:21 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Small point of contention, and to be fair, the "Obama Administration's Stimulus Package" was written completely by the Pelosi/Reid congress, and Obama ceded complete control of it to them. "You write it, I'll sign it," was how it went, if I recall correctly. Not that he should get much credit for that repulsive stance, bur he probably doesn't deserve blame that the policies didn't work as well as we might have hoped.
posted by crunchland at 4:39 AM on November 21, 2011


...the policies didn't work as well as we might have hoped.

It worked and worked well... almost every economist and central banker worth listening to will tell you it staved off a free-fall cycle of depression and recession that would harken back to the Gilded Age (which wasn't all that golden for the average American.) What we've got is very, very bad, true... but it's "Lost Decade" bad, not "Great Depression" bad.

The only problem with the stimulus is that it wasn't anywhere near large enough, and that's due to Republican interference.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:06 AM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Barack HUSSEIN Obama killed the Republican Party!

Yeah, he flew Air Force One into their Ivory Tower and let loose the crazys they kept there.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:21 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


America desperately needs a responsible and compassionate alternative to the Obama administration’s path of bigger government at higher cost.

Still the Pavlovian, Rovian need to vilify. I like this Salon piece illustrating a recent dynamic where "reasonable, thoughful" people pretend Obama isn't giving the right everything it wants.
posted by Trochanter at 5:21 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thorzdad beat me to it. The Contract with America was the great swing in all-or-nothing Republican thinking.

Newt Gingrich actually started calling his process "take no prisoners" and argued that compromise was ideologically impure. He advocated not filling judges' seats and that Republicans must act in lockstep at all times. That led to the first big government shutdown - and to Newt's leaving Washington in disgrace.

But since we have the history attention-span of a hamster, Newt is now a "serious" GOTP presidential candidate. The crazies have always been there (on both sides), but now they run the show.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:22 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mr. Frum is pretty damned reasonable despite being republican...

"Republican" and "reasonable" aren't necessarly mutually exclusive. The reasonable ones just let the crazy ones run the house.

Which is in itself kind of unreasonable, but only about that. (And the Democrats let the wimps run the house, so there's no great prize on either side.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:27 AM on November 21, 2011


Newt is now a "serious" GOTP presidential candidate

That was an inevitability after Cain's second accuser came forward. Everyone more credible - as things are measured in the GOP - had already been used up for Anyone But Romney purposes.

Hang in there, Santorum. Your day in the sun is coming.
posted by Trurl at 5:36 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


You don't want to get Santorum out in the sun. When it heats up it smells even worse.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:42 AM on November 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


hellslinger: ""The conservative shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology has ominous real-world consequences for American society. The American system of government can’t work if the two sides wage all-out war upon each other"

Isn't this kind of thinking EXACTLY what America needs: people who aren't in total agreement but above the bullshit?
"

Sorry, but it's disingenuous to frame the current Republican-Democratic struggle as two sides waging "all-out war upon each other". That's kind of like writing, "When, oh, when, will cats and mice stop fighting and finally get along?"

Conservatives are waging and all-out war on progressive politics, while the Democrats continue to use tactics like compromise, reconiciliation, and appealing to reason. The country and the world are going down the craphole because progressive policy, along with fairly extreme environmental legislation, is pretty much the only thing that will save the country and this planet, and instead we're getting increasingly conservative policy that pushes "reality" further and further to the right. What a shame.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:43 AM on November 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


Here's why I can't take Frum seriously, on the same day he published this piece, he features a standard red meat Conservative union bashing piece on his supposedly 'neo-reasonable Republican' website. Hacks gotta hack and once a hack, always a hack.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:59 AM on November 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


Wait. Wait. The Republicans were at some point in touch with reality?

I thought Lincoln had some good potential.
posted by Mcable at 6:00 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but it's disingenuous to frame the current Republican-Democratic struggle as two sides waging "all-out war upon each other".

He didn't frame the current situation as waging all-out war upon each other; he said that all-out war doesn't work. Furthermore, the article concludes with
Yet in the interests of avoiding false evenhandedness, it must be admitted: The party with a stronger charge on its zapper right now, the party struggling with more self-­imposed obstacles to responsible governance, the party most in need of a course correction, is the Republican Party.
posted by Jpfed at 6:06 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


the party most in need of a course correction, is the Republican Party.

In his eyes this is probably true. Since Clinton, since "electable," since "liberal is a bad word," the Democratic Party is serving the conservative agenda just fine.
posted by Trochanter at 6:19 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Every time I come across David Frum's name, I have to think of the Brian Mulroney quote, "There's no whore like an old whore."

If he's changing his tune (like he has before), it's not from any change in his nature -- the day's customer just wants something different, that's all.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:22 AM on November 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


People need to look up the "Council Wars" in Chicago in the mid-80's. Very instructive.

Harold Washington, a black man, won the Democratic primary for Mayor of the City of Chicago. At that time, the government of Cook County, Illinois resembled the Soviet Union. Every major elective office was held by a Democrat. All 50 city council seats were held by "the Party" as it was called, which ran an efficient, top-to-bottom machine from the precinct captain all the way up to the Mayor, who from 1953 until his death ran, wait for it, the Cook County Democratic Central Committee. At the apex of that organization was the slating committee which picked the candidates. This was the Politburo.

After Daley died a few politicians wrestled for his crown, but after a few years Washington mobilized blacks and liberal whites into a coalition and won the Democratic Primary.

This was tantamount to winning the election. Washington was elected and a funny thing happened--white politicians rebelled. They formed a majority in the City Council and adopted a complete refusnik stance. For several years no budgets were passed and everything Washington did, they stopped. Through it all, Washington was patient. He resisted the calls of supporters to hand the patronage keys over to African-American control and he ran the city for everyone. Finally, a lawsuit fighting the racial lines of the city's districting lines threatened to overturn the white majority--several of them went over to the mayor and the system started working again.

What happened in Chicago? The same thing that's happening with the GOP today--racism pure and simple.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:27 AM on November 21, 2011 [20 favorites]


The crazies have always been there

Citing something that only happened in the last twenty years is not a great example of them "always" being there. For that you would need to go back to people like Richard Nixon or Joe McCarthy, except back then they weren't so much crazy as down right sinister.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:27 AM on November 21, 2011


...instead of stumbling back to their apartment have somehow found themselves naked in a hot tub at the Playboy Mansion. Somehow they don't seem too unhappy about where they ended up.

Frum has just sobered up enough to notice that there's nobody in that tub but good ole boys, what with the bunnies all having been offshored and all.
posted by flabdablet at 6:42 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


After Daley died a few politicians wrestled for his crown, but after a few years Washington mobilized blacks and liberal whites into a coalition and won the Democratic Primary.

Not quite. Yes, he did mobilize both, but the real reason he won was that the Machine was split between Mayor Jane Byrne and Richard M. Daley. So, if you will, sexism helped beat racism that election.

City budgets were passed every year, but only continuation budgets. The Eddies weren't about to shut down the city budget, because that shut down the patronage system that was their source of power.

And, of course, in the end, it all tried reverted itself. Washington won the battle, won the war -- then had a heart attack. Eugene Sawyer managed to get through a few of his programs in his two year term as mayor, but lost in his first election to Ritchie Daley, who then ran Chicago for 22 years. However, unlike his father, Ritchie Daley was more than willing to work without rancor* with the black and hispanic community, and, by and large, managed to keep Chicago from the fate of the other rust belt cities.

(Disclosure: I was generally a supporter of of Ritchie Daley's policies until he went insane with privatization, my support failing when he sold the Skyway, but the city-as-a-whole turned against him when he sold the parking meters.)


* Actually, "with the same level of rancor" would be vastly more accurate
posted by eriko at 6:44 AM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here's my vote..
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury." - Alexander Tyler (in his 1770 book, Cycle of Democracy)
So, a few generations into whatever Democracy..especially in relatively peaceful times.
posted by DigDoug at 6:50 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


My theory is that it happens when you have a kid.

Bullshit. Nothing politicized me more than having a kid the same year the GOP stole the presidential election. I immediately began to fear for my kid's future in what has since been proven to be the long, steady slide toward a police-state banana republic.
posted by spitbull at 6:50 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's why I can't take Frum seriously, on the same day he published this piece, he features a standard red meat Conservative union bashing piece on his supposedly 'neo-reasonable Republican' website.

I'm kind of okay with standard red-meat conservative union-bashing. If they couldn't bash unions, they would be Republicans. I don't agree with it, but it's dead-standard American conservative politics and has been for 100 years or more.

It's the war and torture and no taxes for millionaires part of the party that I find morally disgusting.
posted by empath at 6:53 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. I'm really surprised by the grar here. Maybe I don't have the negative experience with Frum that a lot of folks here do.

I read both articles back to back, and found both fairly refreshing and reasonable.
posted by Thistledown at 6:55 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The knee-jerk condescension and bitterness expressed at Frum is laughable. He didn't write this article to the liberal left, but to the centrist fraction of the GOP. To the extent there is anyone there anymore, and I think there are actually a lot, this is a decent refutation of the right wing extremism that has hijacked the party. Republicans really don't care about the liberal left point of view and when it reacts predictably and seemingly without much thought or analysis against them it only furthers the divide, it leaves the left looking as silly to the GOP as the Tea Party looks to the left. Frum has provided what seems to me to be a fairly accurate portrayal of the breakdown on the right. His simple hope that a more reasonable and currently silent group within the party will reassert itself seems unlikely to happen unless or until the extreme right wing portion flames out in some dramatic fashion.
posted by caddis at 7:05 AM on November 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wait. Wait. The Republicans were at some point in touch with reality?

"Beware the military industrial complex."
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:07 AM on November 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


Citing something that only happened in the last twenty years is not a great example of them "always" being there. For that you would need to go back to people like Richard Nixon or Joe McCarthy, except back then they weren't so much crazy as down right sinister.

I wasn't using the Contract with America to give an example of crazies always being there.

It was an aside, as in "Crazy people have been in government since man has had organized government".
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:08 AM on November 21, 2011


The Republicans were at some point in touch with reality?

Nixon created the EPA. 80% of republicans voted for the civil rights act.

Barry Goldwater opposed the Christianist take over of the GOP. They started going crazy after Nixon got impeached, but it really wasn't until the Contract with America that republicans completely lost their shit. They were bad during Reagan, but not quite yet sociopathic. Reagan even raised taxes several times during his presidency and cut deals with the Soviets.
posted by empath at 7:20 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Nattie: Considering how any Republican saying the things Frum is saying gets eaten alive by the loudest and most delusional of their party, I can't bring myself to discourage other Republicans from doing the same thing by using their criticism as an occasion to say, "HEY, YOU WERE BAD ONCE AND THAT'S IT, NO ONE WILL REWARD YOU FOR BEING REASONABLE EVER."

Well, Nattie. Here's the thing.

If you've watched Rebel Without a Cause (and if you haven't, I'd recommend it, even though its over-the-top psychodrama hasn't aged well), you might remember the scene in which James Dean plays chicken with Buzz, the bully, by racing cars toward the edge of a cliff; SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS Buzz dies because his jacket gets caught on something inside the car. The GOP has "won" for the last decade or so by being Buzz, and now that they've got what they wanted, they're having a hard time getting the car door open so that they can dive out at the last second.

Yes, they have regrets--I saw this with regards to some of the right's reaction to Sarah Palin, both before and after the election, when it became frighteningly obvious that 1) she was going to make them all look like idiots by association and 2) she didn't give a shit as long as she was getting paid--but so fucking what? Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. Frum was "bad" much more than "once", and although he may not have quite the influence he used to have, his danger isn't from "the loudest and most delusional" of the GOP, whose own influence (read: money) is much diminished from having thrown it at one no-hope candidate after another; it's from the same disintegration of society that Frum and his ilk have helped to hasten. Cry me a motherfucking river. If Frum or someone like him needs a cookie in order to put the brakes on well before the cliff's edge, they deserve to be first on the conveyor belt in the Soylent Green plant.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:28 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Agreed on not understanding the hate -- kind of. Rereading the article, he does make a few too many excuses, and probably holds Bush and Reagan in too high regard. Republican policies did drive us to the brink. However, it was the Tea Party that grabbed hold, and threw us off the cliff.

Frum kind of addresses this by acknowledging that the Republicans of the 1970s and 1980s were wrong on a great many things, but got the "big stuff" right, which is why he became a Republican voter in the first place -- even though it doesn't excuse their regressive economic policies that got us to where we are today -- given the time and place, I'm not sure that I'd disagree with him. The GOP seems to have been fairly effective at addressing the issues of the time.

Even in spite of the Bush Administration's great many failings, not every single Bush policy was pure malevolent evil; he kept his party's interests at bay on a number of occasions. He even vetoed the farm bill in 2008 for fairly noble reasons, and in spite of a guaranteed congressional override, which is probably the most outspoken and contrarian use of executive power that I can remember in recent history. I don't particularly mind that Frum attempts to highlight some of the (legitimately) better points of the Bush Administration that he helped craft, if only because it provides some perspective.

Also, Frum certainly has a penchant for catchphrases. The zinger at the end of the article:
Rather than workable solutions, my party is offering low taxes for the currently rich and high spending for the currently old, to be followed by who-knows-what and who-the-hell-cares. This isn’t conservatism; it’s a going-out-of-business sale for the baby-boom generation.
may be overly simplistic (just like his "Axis of Evil" rhetoric), but also manages to very effectively cut to the core of the issue in a way that few have been able to. For all the outcry over Wall Street, there's been surprisingly little protest about the fact that the Baby Boomer generation appears to be extremely content to fuck over its children and grandchildren.

Nobody appears to be bold enough call them out on this. Although it'd be political suicide for an established politician or candidate to say as much, a headless political movement with no candidates (such as OWS) is perfectly suited to voice an opinion that resonates with the masses, but offends the "base." It's a shame that we haven't seen that happen yet.
posted by schmod at 7:30 AM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Eighty percent of the net new jobs created in the state of Texas since 2009 went to the foreign-born.

OK, here's a PERFECT example of an abuse of statistics.

What percent of the unemployed in the state of Texas since 2009 were foreign-born?

Without that information, the "80%" statistic is meaningless.

Were the foreign-born hired at disproportionately high levels? Low levels? Or just matter-of-fact, along with the clearly most-deserving, English-speaking, white-skinned Protestants? (Because, of course, racism is implied in the very statement.)
posted by IAmBroom at 7:31 AM on November 21, 2011


Kid Charlemagne: "Beware the military industrial complex." [- DDE]

I favorited this (as an example of evidence that Republicans were once in touch with reality), but now I'm hedging - that was one guy, he said it as a venerated war hero on his way out of office, and he was promptly ignored.
posted by Rat Spatula at 7:35 AM on November 21, 2011


An arguable beginning to the cleaving of ways between Republicans and reality was the nomination of Reagan for president in 1980.

That was the first time the conservative party just flat-out decided to put a telegenic he'll-do-what-we-say mouthpiece in the oval office, after vowing never to be burned by a wickedly smart and independently-thinking sociopath like Nixon again.
posted by Aquaman at 7:37 AM on November 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Republicans won tons of elections last year by being tremendous assholes.

Actually, they won them through billions of dollars of astroturfing.
posted by goethean at 7:40 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cry me a motherfucking river. If Frum or someone like him needs a cookie in order to put the brakes on well before the cliff's edge, they deserve to be first on the conveyor belt in the Soylent Green plant.

Suggesting that someone be killed and eaten might be a new low for criticism of conservatives, even for Metafilter.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:43 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Suggesting that someone be killed and eaten might be a new low for criticism of conservatives, even for Metafilter.

Nah, I've been saying that for a while now.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:49 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Suggesting that someone be killed and eaten might be a new low for criticism of conservatives, even for MetafilterSuggesting that someone be killed and eaten might be a new low for criticism of conservatives, even for Metafilter.

Do you really think he's serious? Is this like conservatives losing their shit over Obama saying "you don't bring a knife to a gun fight" and acting like he's advocating the murder of republicans?
posted by stavrogin at 7:50 AM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


When did the GOP lose touch with reality? We can date this pretty closely: when they declared that reality just doesn't matter any more and began to gleefully deride the "reality based community." What the hell did he think was going to happen?
posted by lordrunningclam at 7:51 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do you really think he's serious? Is this like conservatives losing their shit over Obama saying "you don't bring a knife to a gun fight" and acting like he's advocating the murder of republicans?

Of course I don't think he's serious, but the fact that you are jokingly advocating outrageous deaths for your opponents doesn't make it an interesting or intelligent debating stance.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:57 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Suggesting that someone be killed and eaten might be a new low for criticism of conservatives, even for Metafilter.

Pretending you actually think someone seriously proposed this is a spectacular way to get upset in a conversation about conservatives losing touch with reality. GIF of Orson Welles clapping, braugh.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:59 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Suggesting that someone be killed and eaten might be a new low for criticism of conservatives, even for Metafilter.

Fish, and plankton. And sea greens, and protein from the sea. It's all here, ready. Fresh as harvest day. Fish and sea greens, plankton and protein from the sea. And then it stopped coming. And they came instead. So I store them here. I'm ready. And you're ready. It's my job. To freeze you. Protein, plankton...
posted by fleetmouse at 8:05 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here's the thing about the Frum hate: if this New Yorker piece is your first exposure to his "last reasonable Republican" thesis, then, yes of course he makes a lot of good points. The problem is that he has been trotting this piece (or variations thereof) out for so long now that it has become shtick. I've come to realize that his "New Way Forward" agenda really comes down to: Be a Blue Dog Democrt. The man is more interested in setting himself up as the Saviour of Conservatism than actually doing anything meaningful to actually save Conservatism.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:11 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dave Frum, he come!

Republican nativism is as wistful and hopeless as any other variety, I'm afraid.
posted by jamjam at 8:16 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eighty percent of the net new jobs created in the state of Texas since 2009 went to the foreign-born.

This is the silly practice of attributing a fraction of growth or net to things that are not all positive. If there are -9/1million jobs in native born and +10/1million jobs in foreign born, 1000% of the growth is attributable to foreign born.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:18 AM on November 21, 2011


The election of Taft. (Seriously, TR was a kick-ass president).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:20 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


David, the correct answer is July 17, 1980 and you know it.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:25 AM on November 21, 2011


no relation: "Going back forever, people have decided which team they're on (either the red team or the blue team) and then vote accordingly. What their candidates believe is secondary to this. Which is why both sides are disillusioned with their candidates, because they ignore the blemishes during campaign season, but when it turns out the guy they voted for really is the guy he said he was they get upset that he wasn't the guy they wanted."

Back handed hippie slap?
posted by symbioid at 8:33 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


lordrunningclam: "When did the GOP lose touch with reality? We can date this pretty closely: when they declared that reality just doesn't matter any more and began to gleefully deride the "reality based community." What the hell did he think was going to happen?"

Umm - that's not what the context is. Read the whole thing - it's about THEM being the actors of reality - making it, and we plebes waste our time bickering over the mess they cause. We deal with the reality they create. IOW, it should be our goal - not to mock them for being "non-reality based" delusional idiots, but MAKING reality ourselves instead of reacting...

I wish people understood how evil that quote is. It not a harmless quote that we "superior intellectual liberals" should be mocking on our Daily Shows and Colbert Reports... It's a statement that we should fully and utterly grok and start to deal with as a way to approach the way forward. Until we deal with the "reality" of that statement, we will continue to get fucked over.

We need to use a sort of political aikido to use their moment of creating reality and flip it over on itself. But you need to see your opponents weaknesses with a clear eye in order to do so, instead of deluding yourself in a haughty delusion of superiority. (I guess, perhaps, I am engaging in such a haughty delusion now against my fellow lefties?)
posted by symbioid at 8:42 AM on November 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


My guess is that they started losing touch with reality when they started courting the religious right.

Yes, and I think that the divide between 'money conservatives' who vote republican for economic reasons and the religious right will eventually tear them apart, and I think we on the left need a figure a way to gain from that.
posted by jonmc at 8:56 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


1964, Barry Goldwater. Done!

On mmany issues, Barry would be considered a liberal by today's GOP.
posted by jonmc at 8:58 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah - but that was still the start of the decline... Doesn't mean he slid as far, just started it, I think - I think there's a huge Goldwater worship in comparison to today's GOP (but you could say the same for Nixon) - but he wasn't the second coming, really. And if he made it in, I don't think he would have been much better for the country, and the downfall may have started even earlier.
posted by symbioid at 9:00 AM on November 21, 2011


I wish people understood how evil that quote is.

I remember reading it at the time and thinking it sounded like Robert Anton Wilson or Grant Morrison theorizing about magic.
posted by empath at 9:01 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


The real question is:

When did reality become a liberal conspiracy?
posted by mikeh at 9:06 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


We need to use a sort of political aikido to use their moment of creating reality and flip it over on itself.

No, no no no. You're making the same mistake that Republican saying that quote did; confusing "narrative" for "reality". Write your own story, absolutely! But "reality" is best understood as the stuff that has to be included in every story or else the story's a fiction. Global warming, for instance, is reality. Evolution is reality. Thinking that controlling the narrative is the same as controlling the reality is how you end up with a party that is absolutely sure that if they stick to their party platform everything will work out ok, despite all evidence to the contrary. This is one of those instances where you need to fight fire with water, not more fire.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:11 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Back handed hippie slap?

Nope. An observation that people who consider themselves Republicans will vote for whichever candidate puts an R after their name, and Democrats will vote for whichever candidate puts a D after their name.

Neither candidate can win without winning over the "undecideds" or the "swing voters", because they know the folks drinking the red or the blue will vote for them no matter what. So they pretty much have to govern to the undecideds.
posted by no relation at 9:15 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


In response to this post from DigDoug
Here's my vote..
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury." - Alexander Tyler (in his 1770 book, Cycle of Democracy)

So, a few generations into whatever Democracy..especially in relatively peaceful times.
BS. This crisis we're in has absolutely nothing to do with democracy being flawed, or with a "majority of voters" deciding to vote themselves largess, and instead has everything to do with a tiny economic ruling class deciding to tighten their control by dismantling the institutions of democracy and by themselves looting the public treasury. The public is remarkably sane in their management of the public treasury, compared to the "elites." Deploying antidemocratic rhetoric at this point in history, regardless of the pedigree of that rhetoric, is utterly wrongheaded.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:19 AM on November 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


America is living out that scene in "Goodfellas":
HENRY (VO)
And, finally, when there's nothing
left, when you can't borrow another
buck from the bank or buy another
case of booze, you bust the joint out.
Baby boomer retirement plan in action. Glad to see some of them feel bad about the whole thing.
posted by No Robots at 9:19 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Suggesting that someone be killed and eaten might be a new low for criticism of conservatives, even for Metafilter.

What can I say? After I chowed down on my first Irish baby, the rest was easy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:25 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's why I can't take Frum seriously, on the same day he published this piece, he features a standard red meat Conservative union bashing piece on his supposedly 'neo-reasonable Republican' website. Hacks gotta hack and once a hack, always a hack.

Don't tell empath that. His head might explode.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:31 AM on November 21, 2011


Don't tell empath that. His head might explode.

I read it. I don't have a problem with conservatives in principle. And if anything is conservative, it's hating on unions. I'll let them have that much.
posted by empath at 9:40 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I imagine reading this thread if you're a Republican must be a bit like what reading all those "OMG Obama is a socialist!!!!" pieces is like for me. Frum is the beating heart of far-right ideology? Really?

If you can't draw meaningful distinctions between Frum's conservatism and whatever looniness the Republican presidential candidates are trying to play to then there's really no hope for a meaningful political dialogue in this country whatsoever. Just because the man disagrees with you about the best policy prescriptions for the country doesn't mean he's evil incarnate. I thought that kind of thinking was one of the things we disliked about contemporary right wing rhetoric in America?
posted by yoink at 9:41 AM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Republican policies did drive us to the brink. However, it was the Tea Party that grabbed hold, and threw us off the cliff.

This makes me feel old, and I'm only 33. Do you guys seriously not remember how completely nuts the Bush neocons were? You went "off the cliff" a long time before the Tea Party even existed.

That tomorrow he's going to write a retraction where he's like, "HAHAHA, I FOOLED YOU LIBERALS, I DIDN'T MEAN A WORD OF IT! AND YOU WERE SO NICE ABOUT IT!" and you'll feel stupid that he got one over on you?

He'll never write a retraction like that, no. If you've been following him, he'll keep making these points, and he'll make these points about whoever is paying him at that moment. He's essentially been making these same points since he first got on the scene. Frum is the guy who wrote Dead Right in 1994, then joined up with the Bush Jr team and did the exact opposite of what he had been advocating. He also now says he was "conflicted" about it. But in between then and now he wrote a long book about how Bush is fantastic. He says one thing and does another. He is exactly the problem. He is exactly why the Republicans keep winning. They shout slogans like "small government" and "family values" then act however they damned well please. I'm surprised this isn't more transparent.
posted by Hoopo at 9:44 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


I read it. I don't have a problem with conservatives in principle. And if anything is conservative, it's hating on unions. I'll let them have that much.

I'm referring to your passive-aggressive garbage about Andrew Sullivan apparently changing his stripes as some kind of defense for Frum, when Frum turns around and does exactly what he's paid to do.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:48 AM on November 21, 2011


Their problem isn't losing touch with reality. Its the facts of the reality they made.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:56 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm referring to your passive-aggressive garbage about Andrew Sullivan apparently changing his stripes as some kind of defense for Frum, when Frum turns around and does exactly what he's paid to do.

Frum never said he's not a conservative. He's just said he's not on board with what conservatism is turning into. I'm not even sure he's ever really changed. He's always been fairly middle of the road. He's not on my side, but he's a lot less of a problem for me than a lot of other Republicans, and I would be thrilled if more of them were like him. We could actually get stuff done in the country, that way.
posted by empath at 9:58 AM on November 21, 2011


The most interesting thing about the Frum piece was the lack of any substantive mention of global warming.
posted by OmieWise at 9:59 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just because the man disagrees with you about the best policy prescriptions for the country doesn't mean he's evil incarnate.

I repeat: He says,

America desperately needs a responsible and compassionate alternative to the Obama administration’s path of bigger government at higher cost.

Name me a bigger 'big lie' in the atmosphere right now.

This whole piece is not about governance. It's about winning elections. The man's a Rovian apparatchik. If he was about compassionate conservatism he'd vote Obama.

In a sense, he is what's wrong.
posted by Trochanter at 10:00 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Name me a bigger 'big lie' in the atmosphere right now.

Really? How about that Obama's a socialist, or that he's a muslim, or that he wasn't born in America, that he's an empty suit, that he supports the black panthers, that he hates white people, etc and so on. Frum mentions a bunch of lies about Obama in the same article. Complaining that Democrats want big government is practically giving Obama a foot massage compared to the shit most tea partiers say about him.
posted by empath at 10:05 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you can't draw meaningful distinctions between Frum's conservatism and whatever looniness the Republican presidential candidates are trying to play to then there's really no hope for a meaningful political dialogue in this country whatsoever

He admits to having voted for the McCain/Palin ticket. Frum's conservatism doesn't even inform his own choices. It's not that there's no hope for a meaningful political dialogue, it's that a political dialogue means nothing if you're going to vote for the Republicans no matter what.
posted by Hoopo at 10:11 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sorry David, it's not that easy. You may have turned a corner in terms of your own involvement with the current Republican party, but you still haven't fully acknowledged your own responsibility. As one of the main sellers of the Bush Doctrine, you are directly responsible for increasing the mix of fear, paranoia, triumphalism, and eschatology that informed policy during the George W. Bush presidency, and continues to inform Republican discourse.

After 9-11, you helped to create a revenge fantasy that unleashed an orgy of violence on Iraq. Millions of Americans got off on the images of fiery retribution that resulted, and reveled in the bully mentality that defined much of Bush's foreign policy. You fed an inchoate rage within the American public and helped to direct it towards electoral politics. Now you want to turn it off, but you still won't admit your own role in its emergence.

For someone who claims that their conservatism was inspired by Solzhenitsyn, you need to take a long hard look at the America of the "War on Terror" and Guantanamo Bay.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:12 AM on November 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


As always (and as noted), the modern atrocity that's the GOP comes back to Ronald Reagan.

They were assholes before, but never (recently) as religious or bloody.

On previewing, yeah, stavros got it.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:21 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


These articles are just another example of how conservatives are governed by fear, and other base instincts, rather than any element of rationality. I'm still trying to get over how they can consistently market themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility and sound judgement, when they are actually crazy from angst. Seriously, he imagined he would die on the job?!?!
posted by mumimor at 10:24 AM on November 21, 2011


Really? How about that Obama's a socialist, or that he's a muslim, or that he wasn't born in America, that he's an empty suit, that he supports the black panthers, that he hates white people, etc and so on.

The 'Obama's a socialist' one is the same argument. And the rest are not big lies they're delusions held by the fringe. Mainstream commentators continually make the big government argument. That's the big lie at work. Right out of the text book.

What about my actual point, though? That the type of government he's calling for is in the White House right now.
posted by Trochanter at 10:25 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's not that there's no hope for a meaningful political dialogue, it's that a political dialogue means nothing if you're going to vote for the Republicans no matter what.

I'm a partisan Democrat and wouldn't vote for a Republican for dog catcher, but I'm still happy to talk to reasonable ones. There are issues where reasonable Republicans could find common ground with Democrats, if they weren't signing crazy-pants no-taxes pledges and trying to put women in prison for having abortions, etc. There aren't a bunch of non-crazy Republicans in Congress now to work with (Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Olympia Snow, sometimes Lindsey Graham, a few others), but it would be better if there were, and if there were more moderate voices in the GOP. I don't find him persuasive, but all things considered, I'd rather there were more Republicans like him than less, and demonizing him for what are rational and mainstream conservative opinions doesn't strike me as being very helpful.

He has a lot to answer for on the Iraq War and torture, and I don't think I can ever forgive him for it, and he probably deserves to be in prison for it with Cheney and the rest, but if that's not going to happen, I'd rather he take the role he's taking now than the role that Liz Cheney has taken on.
posted by empath at 10:27 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


There aren't a bunch of non-crazy Republicans in Congress now to work with (Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Olympia Snow, sometimes Lindsey Graham, a few others)

They vote lockstep with the GOP leadership. You have a funny definition of "work with."
posted by eriko at 10:31 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


demonizing him for what are rational and mainstream conservative opinions doesn't strike me as being very helpful.

I'm demonizing him for his actions and his track record of publicly proclaiming rational mainstream conservative opinions while acting differently. He is lying to you.
posted by Hoopo at 10:32 AM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I tend to think that Republicans will continue to become increasingly erratic the closer we get to public awareness of the fact that this country's wealth is predicated on a myth of perpetual growth. All the hand-waving and focus on wedge issues is just a distraction to keep people from focusing on the scary prospect that we can't hope for a rising tide lifting all boats much longer, that there is no intrinsic reason the Dow ought to climb in real value year after year and that the frenzy of American consumerism has to have some sort of Malthusian limit.

I feel like I saw the Republican vision of prosperity living in the Atlanta suburbs in the late-90s and early-00s: miles and miles of subdivisions full of commodity houses built en masse on dirt cheap land and turned for massive profits, in areas with no municipal oversight and barely-functioning county governments, which people buy because they're so damn affordable, overwhelmed and crumbling physical infrastructure and non-existent social structure be damned. There was a utopian fervor to all of it, but it only ever made any sense if you thought that the growth that made metro Atlanta double in size over a decade would continue apace, and it didn't and won't and someday people inevitably wake up and realize there is no there there—physically/geographically in this instance, but it's more broadly true of American exceptionalism.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 10:36 AM on November 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


They vote lockstep with the GOP leadership. You have a funny definition of "work with."

And so do Democrats, I don't get your point. They do vote to end fillibusters and will vote with Democrats on some issues, though, which is really all you can expect from the opposing party in this environment. Would I rather have Democrats? Sure, but if I have to have Republicans, I would rather have Republicans like them than Republicans like Jim DeMint.
posted by empath at 10:36 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


They started going crazy after Nixon got impeached, but it really wasn't until the Contract with America that republicans completely lost their shit. They were bad during Reagan, but not quite yet sociopathic. Reagan even raised taxes several times during his presidency and cut deals with the Soviets.

Reagan also rolled out the red carpet for the Moral Majority and legitimized Operation Rescue and the Eagle Forum. Reagan brought evangelical Christianity to the White House. There was nowhere to go but crazy from there.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:41 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK, so it's interesting that we're talking about "Reality" and "The Big Lie" and all that.

Barry Ritholz posted this (as I'm going through my feeds now):
The pushback continues from the usual sources. We can group folks repeating the faux arguments into 3 distinct categories. Some of these reveal disturbing trends:

1) The Cognitive Dissidents (my term for a those politically dissenting from reality); their brains simply will not allow them to see what disagrees with their ideology. This is a very real and unfortunate part of human nature;

2) The Political Manipulators, who cynically know what they peddle is nonsense, but nonetheless push the stuff because it is effective. These folks are more committed to their ideology than the good of the nation, and as such earn my disdain.

3) The Innumerates, the people who truly disrespect a legitimate process of looking at the data and making intelligent assessments. These innumerates — mathematical illiterates — seem to revel in their own ignorance; it si embarrassing.


The denying of reality has been an issue, from Galileo to Columbus to modern times. Reality always triumphs eventually, but there are very real costs to it occurring later versus sooner
. . . (symbioid's emphasis)
posted by symbioid at 11:12 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Rick Perlstein's Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus is a good look at the rise of nutjobs in the Republican Party, and features Reagan's early appearance as a telegenic he'll-do-what-we-say mouthpiece. (Perlstein also wrote Nixonland.)
posted by kirkaracha at 11:14 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reagan brought evangelical Christianity to the White House. There was nowhere to go but crazy from there.

Hahaha, very good point.

People have been saying some neutral things about Nixon, like he signed the EPA authorization, expanded welfare etc. That was nothing to do with Nixon. Both houses of Congress were controlled by the Democrats, and there were in those days a number of liberal Republicans in Congress. So he had no choice but to sign those bills or face veto override. Nixon was in fact a loon (read a transcript of his conversations with Billy Graham some time and be really shocked at the hitlerrifficness of it all) and many prominent Republicans who presided over the recent descent into madness, like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Pat Buchanan, etc., all worked for Nixon when he was in office. Nixon himself was a protege of Joseph McCarthy and shared his paranoia, which of course was passed on to his political descendents.

I have a distinct memory of my mother putting me on her knee in January 1969 and commanding me to watch the inauguration because it was "the worst thing that has ever happened to this country." For decades I thought this was a pretty extreme statement. Now I am not so sure, considering the pernicious effects of the people who worked for Nixon and survived his fall. So my vote for the GOP's tipping point to the crazy was when Eisenhower consented to have Nixon on the ticket as a sop to the red-baiters in the GOP of the time.
posted by zomg at 11:14 AM on November 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


In completely unrelated news, the "SuperCommittee" will announce this morning that, and please try not to shit your pants in surprise over this, they failed completely to reach any kind of deal about deficit reduction because Republicans destroying the country and then blaming Democrats for not stopping them is fucking working for them.

How the Tea Party killed the supercommittee: The Republicans' refusal to compromise underscores the success of the right's Obama-era purity crusade
posted by homunculus at 11:21 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've read a few of Frum's pieces and find his views far more reasonable than the standard GOP bullshit. That said, regardless of his consistency or lack thereof, it's clear that he doesn't have many followers, and as he said, Fox News et. al. don't want him because he doesn't toe the party line.
posted by 4midori at 11:25 AM on November 21, 2011


Name me a bigger 'big lie' in the atmosphere right now.

The kind of government Obama would ideally wish to see in operation would certainly be a bigger and more active one than the kind that Frum would ideally wish to see. That's not only not a "big lie" it's completely true.

It's perfectly reasonable for people to believe in small government. What's unreasonable is when they purse those ends by falsification and demonization--a la the current crop of Republicans.

Again, if you are going to paint every single person who disagrees with you no matter to what extent as beyond the pale, then there's simply no hope for political action of any kind in this country. This, of course, includes all those who pretend that there's "no difference at all between Obama and Bush/McCain/Palin/Romney etc." because he didn't do absolutely everything they wanted him to do--regardless of the political realities of the context in which he's operation.

I do find it funny/sad how the two sides in the US are mirroring each other. We all love mocking the republicans for their insistence on ideological purity and how they keep screaming RINO at each other--but I don't see the that the tent is all that much bigger over on our side.
posted by yoink at 11:29 AM on November 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


The kind of government Obama would ideally wish to see in operation would certainly be a bigger and more active one than the kind that Frum would ideally wish to see. That's not only not a "big lie" it's completely true.

I'm sorry. It certainly is the big lie. Where is your evidence that Obama is a big government politician? It's not in his rhetoric. It's not in his actions. He's pro-business. All his economic people are laissez faire former finance industry types. Where's this "path" he's on?
posted by Trochanter at 12:29 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


They shout slogans like 'small government' and 'family values' then act however they damned well please.

Bush Was a Big-Government Disaster:
If increases in government spending matter, then Mr. Bush is worse than any president in recent history. During his first four years in office -- a period during which his party controlled Congress -- he added a whopping $345 billion (in constant dollars) to the federal budget. The only other presidential term that comes close? Mr. Bush's second term. As of November 2008, he had added at least an additional $287 billion on top of that (and the months since then will add significantly to the bill).
Spending Under President George W. Bush:
...President Bush increased government spending more than any of the six presidents preceding him, including LBJ.
[...]
During his eight years in office, President Bush spent almost twice as much as his predecessor, President Clinton. Adjusted for inflation, in eight years, President Clinton increased the federal budget by 11 percent. In eight years, President Bush increased it by a whopping 104 percent.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:42 PM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry. It certainly is the big lie. Where is your evidence that Obama is a big government politician? It's not in his rhetoric. It's not in his actions. He's pro-business. All his economic people are laissez faire former finance industry types. Where's this "path" he's on?

"Pro business" is a meaningless label, as is "big government" unless it's relative to some existing government system. I didn't say that Obama wants "the biggest imaginable government" I said he wants a more proactive and engaged government than David Frum wants. It is, therefore, entirely sane for Frum to say that he'd like a Presidential candidate who was less "big government" than Obama without also being a raving fruitloop like the current crop of Republican presidential candidates.

And, seriously, if are incapable of seeing that Obama is defending a more expansive vision of the federal government's powers and duties than the Republican's endorse you desperately need to pay more attention to what's going on in Washington.
posted by yoink at 12:45 PM on November 21, 2011


I do find it funny/sad how the two sides in the US are mirroring each other. We all love mocking the republicans for their insistence on ideological purity and how they keep screaming RINO at each other--but I don't see the that the tent is all that much bigger over on our side.

Wait, what? Just in terms of Congress a rather homogeneous organization, the Democratic tent covers Bernie Sanders through Joe Manchin, Joe Lewis through Heath Shuler. There's an entire contingent of Democrats (the Blue Dogs) who vote with Republicans often enough just to prevent conversation, let alone votes. And in terms of voter demographics, there's pretty much everybody from guns-and-bibles to dumpster divers and everything in between.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:48 PM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Obama is pretty conservative when it comes to economics, in a "small c," your-local-bank-manager kind of way. The Republican party are "Big C," starve-the-beast-then-drown-it conservatives in the radical extremist way. The most important point where Obama and the Republicans disagree is that Obama is actually trying to fix things and save the system, whereas the Republicans are trying to burn it all down, so they can build a new right-wing America on the ruins.

It isn't clear to me that Frum perceives this. It sounds more like he thinks his party has been led astray by hucksters. Like they've succumbed to the temptations of Fox News and now spend their time playing to the masses instead of trying to get elected. That's part of the problem, but it's peripheral to the larger problem inherent in current Republican ideology. Maybe he'll see that in time.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:08 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


And, seriously, if are incapable of seeing that Obama is defending a more expansive vision of the federal government's powers and duties than the Republican's endorse you desperately need to pay more attention to what's going on in Washington.

What Republicans? What are you talking about? Everybody wants something from Government. Homeland security. The TSA. Walls around Mexico. How many foreign wars? War on drugs. War on terror.

I don't see more expansive. I see different.

Ask Barak Obama if he's a big government liberal. What will he say? No. He's a centrist. He's post partisan. He's fiscally responsible. The left are a bunch of nattering idealists. That's the noise he makes.

Ideologically, the politician Frum is calling for is Barak Obama. Ideologically, he's got the man he wants. Frum is talking about Republican electability. As T.D. Strange said: Hacks gotta hack.

And so the "path to big government" line is bullshit. The. Big. Lie.
posted by Trochanter at 2:15 PM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Pro business" is a meaningless label, as is "big government" unless it's relative to some existing government system. I didn't say that Obama wants "the biggest imaginable government" I said he wants a more proactive and engaged government than David Frum wants.

You say this as though the existing "big government" system we're talking about wasn't the very same one Frum was cheerleading all through the Bush administration. Now let me make this clear: Frum did not "change his mind" on this. He has been flying the "small government" banner since at least 1994. But he still actively supported and defended Bush and the Republicans while government got bigger than it ever had before on their watch. This is not a man coming to his senses, this is a man with no integrity telling lies to stay relevant.
posted by Hoopo at 2:22 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


The kind of government Obama would ideally wish to see in operation would certainly be a bigger and more active one than the kind that Frum would ideally wish to see.

I don't even know, I have a hard time following exactly what Frum wants.

Today, health reform that combines regulation of private insurance, individual mandates, and subsidies for those who need them is considered unconstitutional and an open invitation to “death panels.” A dozen years ago, a very similar reform was the Senate Republican alternative to Hillarycare.

I mean, but he still opposes Obamacare though, right? Does he have any vision for a Republican health care plan that would be closer to what Republicans of today want than to Obamacare?

Okay, DUDE, you are a blue dog Democrat. Why can't you just admit it? It just feels like tribalism. Frum is a centrist, Obama is the candidate for centrists.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:22 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


John Holbo's review of Frum's Dead Right is due for a mention about now.

It is a classic.
posted by dglynn at 2:56 PM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do find it funny/sad how the two sides in the US are mirroring each other. We all love mocking the republicans for their insistence on ideological purity and how they keep screaming RINO at each other--but I don't see the that the tent is all that much bigger over on our side.

I'm fine with being generous to real people and punishing professional pols / hacks.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:57 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I ever understood why government is being measured in terms of "size". When did this become the metric of how well or poorly government's doing? I think the actual concern should be, "What are our elected officials promising to do, and are they doing it?" It doesn't matter to me if this takes 50 departments each with a staff of hundreds, or a super-lean catch-all US Department of Governance or whatever. If you're failing the electorate, size doesn't matter.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:14 PM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


From the article:

> The first decade of the 21st century was a crazy bookend to the twentieth, opening with a second Pearl Harbor and ending with a second Great Crash, with a second Vietnam wedged in between.

Can someone please tell this Canadian what events he's referring to by Pearl Harbour and Vietnam here?
posted by Listener at 3:16 PM on November 21, 2011


9/11, Iraq, and the current recession, I reckon.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:17 PM on November 21, 2011


However, unlike his father, Ritchie Daley was more than willing to work without rancor* with the black and hispanic community, and, by and large, managed to keep Chicago from the fate of the other rust belt cities.

Yep. I remember when he marched in the gay pride parade and the networks said "his father would have never done that!" All I could think of was "if it would have netted him votes, he sure as hell would have."
posted by Ironmouth at 3:43 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The first decade of the 21st century was a crazy bookend to the twentieth, opening with a second Pearl Harbor and ending with a second Great Crash, with a second Vietnam wedged in between.

-Pearl Harbor = 9/11
-Great Crash = 2008 housing market crash and subsequent Depression recession that totally ended last summer (who says Great Crash? Presumably he means Great Depression and not specifically the 1929 Black Monday event)
-Vietnam in the middle = Iraq/Afghanistan (actually even longer than Vietnam and still going strong)
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:05 PM on November 21, 2011


Black Monday /= Black Tuesday. Two different Black Days, and hey look at that, both on conservative watches! Imagine that!
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:07 PM on November 21, 2011


Nixon was a pragmatic enough of a Republican to have gone along with enacting liberal ideas when the electorate wanted it. Just as only he could have gone to China, only Nixon could have supported ERA or the EPA. Sadly, the U.S. could benefit from a new Nixon (coming from either party), a man amoral and shifty enough to do the right thing for the wrong reasons.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:15 PM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm glad to see someone try to talk some sense to the maliciously misinformed, but I have a hard time feeling bad for The Egregious Frum. He read anyone who wasn't on board with the Iraq war out of the conservative movement in the pages of of The National Review, and has now in turn been read out of the movement himself for not being opposed enough to the Affordable Care Act. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:23 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nixon was a pragmatic enough of a Republican to have gone along with enacting liberal ideas when the electorate wanted it. Just as only he could have gone to China, only Nixon could have supported ERA or the EPA. Sadly, the U.S. could benefit from a new Nixon (coming from either party), a man amoral and shifty enough to do the right thing for the wrong reasons.

The Democratic party had a healthy majority in both houses of Congress throughout the Nixon presidency. Consequently Nixon ends up with his name on a bunch of surprisingly liberal bills. It would be nice if present day liberals would try to understand the very limited powers of the Presidency and the crucial importance of both the Senate and the House.

It would also be nice if they would recognize that the most liberal legislation you can hope to get through Congress is whatever the 60th most liberal person in the Senate is willing to vote for (just as the most conservative legislation you can hope to get through Congress is whatever the 60th most conservative senator is willing to vote for).
posted by yoink at 4:42 PM on November 21, 2011


The prime takeaway from this, I'd say, is that Bush - a terrible president who fucked up pretty much everything - seems eminently reasonable in comparison to the Tea Party. Whatever you think of Frum, he's correct on this point, which is just horrifying.
posted by breakin' the law at 4:47 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I ever understood why government is being measured in terms of "size". When did this become the metric of how well or poorly government's doing? I think the actual concern should be, "What are our elected officials promising to do, and are they doing it?" It doesn't matter to me if this takes 50 departments each with a staff of hundreds, or a super-lean catch-all US Department of Governance or whatever. If you're failing the electorate, size doesn't matter.

It matters if you think it matters. There's no handbook handed down from above that tells us what a government should look like or what it should or shouldn't do. If your vision of government tells you that it should seek to ameliorate all the ills it can practically address then you will want a very large government; if your vision of government tells you it should interfere as minimally as possible in people's lives, then you'll want a pretty small one. Both are perfectly respectable positions to hold, in and of themselves. Each involves certain problematic consequences if carried out to the fullest extent.
posted by yoink at 4:48 PM on November 21, 2011


What if I want a government that seeks to ameliorate all the ills it can practically address while interfering as minimally as possible in people's lives?
posted by flabdablet at 5:00 PM on November 21, 2011


Yeah, I wasn't even speaking to the idea of a caregiver government; just that it reflects the wishes of the electorate, or the majority thereof. How "big" or "small" (by whatever measurement that's judged) seems to me to be aside the point.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:04 PM on November 21, 2011


if your vision of government tells you it should interfere as minimally as possible in people's lives, then you'll want a pretty small one.

That's a noble sentiment which is not reflected in the modern conservative movement.

It started with "trickle down economics."

The States by the way, are dead, we just don't know we are being kept on life support so our Corporate Masters can drain every last dollar they deign to award us in the first place.
posted by Max Power at 5:20 PM on November 21, 2011


It is, therefore, entirely sane for Frum to say that he'd like a Presidential candidate who was less "big government" than Obama...

It is entirely sane except for the fact that the United States economy is currently hemorrhaging from numerous wounds that were at least partially a result of massive deregulation brought about under the aegis of "Small Government". In light of that, saying you want a candidate who is less "big government" is precisely as sane as a guy who has had much of his face bitten off saying he wants a candidate who is more pro-rabid animal.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:31 PM on November 21, 2011


Debating the proper size of government is hopeless because "size" is viciously ambiguous. Is government bigger when it spends more money? You might think so, except that Republicans are usually just as happy to spend money as Democrats. Under Reagan, the U.S. ran larger deficits than at any time in its history, and the Bushes ran even larger deficits. Or maybe government is bigger when it is less intrusive into the lives and businesses of individuals. Except that Republicans support invasive policies with respect to drugs, sex, and even business (in virtue of large giveaways to some business interests at the expense of others). People on both sides of the aisle want "bigger" government in some places and "smaller" government in other places. And that ends up making the generic question whether government should be bigger or smaller a pretty silly question to ask.

We would all be better off asking four related but distinct questions:

(1) What should government do?

(2) What institutions does government need to establish in order to carry out its mission effectively?

(3) How much money does the government need in order to support those institutions?

(4) How should the government raise the revenue it needs?

I submit that asking these questions explicitly would lead to a much better, more informative debate about the government than arguing about whether government should be bigger or smaller.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 5:37 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


We would all be better off asking four related but distinct questions:

(1) What should government do?

(2) What institutions does government need to establish in order to carry out its mission effectively?

(3) How much money does the government need in order to support those institutions?

(4) How should the government raise the revenue it needs?

I submit that asking these questions explicitly would lead to a much better, more informative debate about the government than arguing about whether government should be bigger or smaller.


Well, yes, those are much more precise questions: they are, however, the questions that are usually directly implied by the catchall concept of "size." That is, "small government conservatives" and "big government liberals" have a range of predictable implied answers to all of those questions. It's not as if any of these questions reframes the debate.
posted by yoink at 5:43 PM on November 21, 2011


I submit that asking these questions explicitly would lead to a much better, more informative debate about the government than arguing about whether government should be bigger or smaller.

That's entirely my point. Not only are the measurements for "large" and "small" dependent entirely on what definition someone's using; it also makes little difference in the long run when the point is asking what government is supposed to do, and then, is it doing it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:44 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I wasn't even speaking to the idea of a caregiver government; just that it reflects the wishes of the electorate, or the majority thereof. How "big" or "small" (by whatever measurement that's judged) seems to me to be aside the point.

But "big" and "small" etc are part of the wishes of the electorate. I don't see what distinction you're drawing.

If you vote against, say, Perry because he has promised to axe Education, Commerce and, uh, some other federal agency then you're voting against him because he is reducing the range of things in which the federal government can take direct action in ways that don't conform to your wishes. That's a dispute about the proper size and scope of the federal government.
posted by yoink at 5:49 PM on November 21, 2011


That is, "small government conservatives" and "big government liberals" have a range of predictable implied answers to all of those questions. It's not as if any of these questions reframes the debate.

I'm not trying to do anything so grand as reframe the entire debate. I don't have a magical potion to make the real, legitimate debates about government go away. But I don't think that "small government conservatives" or "big government liberals" are phrases that refer to any actual people. The words "small" and "big" here are just too squishy.

That is, I might say, "I'm in favor of smaller government," by which I mean that we should slash the military budget, get rid of Homeland Security, get rid of the TSA, drop Medicare Part D, and stop giving tax breaks to Big Oil and Big Ag. My conservative friend might say that he is in favor of smaller government, too. But he means that we should get rid of social security, Medicaid, food stamps, and NPR. The debate here is not about big versus small.

Or, I might say that I am in favor of smaller government because I want to pull back regulations on recreational drugs or relax restrictions on adoption by homosexual couples. My friend says that he is in favor of smaller government because he wants to pull back regulations on oil companies. Again, the debate here is not well-captured by the labels "big" and "small."

My point is not that the debates go away when we are more precise. My point is that without being more precise, we don't know what the hell we are talking about, and as a result of the imprecise language, the debate does not really move forward.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 6:39 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not as if any of these questions reframes the debate.

Well, there is an implicit framing in the questions. Take question 1 for example:

(1) What should government do?

What if you asked instead, what shouldn't government do?

Then the desire to keep government small makes more sense.

Now, I'm not saying that's that's the root cause for most of the Tea Party members. Unfortunately I think it's largely about keeping social services away from the poor with many of them.

But some of the saner civil-libertarians see all of the abuses by government, and their natural inclination is to keep government small by keeping funding small. With less money you get reduced ability to suppress citizens.
posted by formless at 6:41 PM on November 21, 2011


I deeply resent the modern-day Republican party for making DAVID FUCKING FRUM the voice of reason.
posted by Dasein at 7:55 PM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


With less money you get reduced ability to suppress citizens.

That would be fine, but now they're just re-directing money from social services to suppressing citizens.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:30 PM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Dasein: "I deeply resent the modern-day Republican party for making DAVID FUCKING FRUM the voice of reason."

People do occasionally come to their senses. Barry Goldwater was one of the only reasonable-sounding Republicans in the 1990s.
posted by schmod at 7:21 AM on November 22, 2011


When they decided that they hated Obama more than they wanted the United States to avoid becoming a derelict wreck of a nation. — posted by chimaera

This, in cartoon form.

posted by blueberry at 12:14 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


When Gabrielle Giffords was shot, David Frum speculated that Jared Lee Loughner was motivated by marijuana-induced schizophrenia and called for stricter regulations on marijuana as a result. The argument had no basis in fact or medical science and was based on a very selective and partial reading of an article by Metafilter's own Maias. It was a nakedly partisan response to the attention the shooting brought to the issue of gun control (especially its interaction with mental illness), and it clarified for me the fact that Frum was willing to stoop to absolutely any level including capitalizing on that terrible tragedy to further his party's agenda. So, yeah, I guess the GOP must have lost its mind sometime before that. Or maybe they smoked too much weed and all went schizo.
posted by albrecht at 6:39 PM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


when did the GOP start fucking eating people
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:00 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It wasn't just Eisenhower. During the cold war Khrushchev was visiting the United States. At a party, he's talking to Allen Dulles (head of the CIA) and the two have an exchange where basically the two were joking about how they were probably both paying the same people for the same intelligence, and maybe the US and USSR should pool their efforts and only buy the intelligence once. Save some money.

Compare that to the absolute handwaving freakoutery surrounding Ahmadinejad's visit to the UN - because, hey, he's president of a country which might be able to produce one or two strategic nuclear weapons someday and throw them as far as central Europe where the Soviets had enough weapons to hit every major city in the US ten times or something. (I didn't come up with this observation entirely on my own, btw.)

I hadn't thought about it before, but that was almost exactly when the most overt unrepentant racists bailed out of the Democratic party. so that may have been the beginning of the end.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:50 AM on November 23, 2011


Here's Frum weeping for Rick Santorum last night. A two-term Senator who "through no fault of his own" was cruely ousted out of office and no one even offered him a partnership at a whiteshoe Republican owned DC lawfirm?

What is the world coming to?
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:28 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


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