Politics Magazine

More from David Frum

Posted on the 11 October 2013 by Erictheblue


Being a lefty, I can confess to a case of the man-loves, and lately I've been feeling it for David Frum.  I called attention recently to his "Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Political Parties," and now he's followed it up with a piece that, if you discount the nostalgia for a Republican party that hasn't existed in his voting lifetime, qualifies as both acute analysis and a clarion call.  My favorite section:

There has been a pool of Republicans who have doubted the party's radical turn.  Until now, however, these Republicans have been quiet and passive.  They came out to vote in 2010, but they did not join the Tea Party rallies.  They supported Mitt Romney in the primaries because he looked like a potential president, but they did not object when Romney fastened his campaign to the deadweight anchor of the Ryan plan.  They look to Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell to fend off the crazies in the caucus, but they did not understand that those leaders' strategy for "fending off" the crazies consisted of abject appeasement of the crazies. 

Some of these more responsible Republicans are waking up at last.  More must do so, many more, before the party can again become a positive force in American politics. 

It's not enough to condemn the crazies in the company of friends.  Responsible Republicans have to act.  The have to organize and mobilize.  This latest debt crisis exemplifies the problem: to threaten default on the obligations of the United States is simply not an acceptable tool of politics.  Instead of making excuses--or rummaging through the record books looking for incidents that can be misrepresented as proof that "everybody does it"--responsible Republicans need to challenge their own party. . . .  Blame the leaders for their faint-heartedness, if you like.  But remember, faint-hearted politicians are the norm.  In the past, faint-hearted politicians behaved in mostly sensible ways because they were afraid to act recklessly.  Today they are afraid NOT to act recklessly, and the failure of their non-reckless constituents to make themselves heard is a big part of the story of that new fear.

Whew!  Just by following Eric the Blue you have now heard more good sense coming from a Republican than you would have gotten from watching C-SPAN during your waking hours for the past 25 years. If only he wasn't being, if anything, too charitable in his assessment.  If you're paying attention, you would have long ago stopped hoping for anything good from such manifest sub-mediocrities as "Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell."  Also, it's  not that there's a jillion people like Frum and that the Republican party would be fine if only they'd all speak up.  Shit, Fox News is a viable business.  What else do you need to know?  That Rush Limbaugh is rich?  The reason it's become dangerous for Republican politicians not to be reckless is that the country is full of ignorant, reckless people who have found a home in the Republican party.  It's why the rest of us, trying to laugh instead of be horrified, tell jokes such as: Did you hear about the guy who was going to go out on Halloween as a Republican?  Turns out he couldn't get his head up his ass. 

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