NRB vs. FrumForum: Gee, I Wonder Who’s Telling the Truth?

David Horowitz and David Swindle have decided to can one of NewsRealBlog’s contributors, Alex Knepper. Knepper, who also contributes to David Frum’s FrumForum, claims that he was punished because “Horowitz is not interested in posts that take Ann Coulter to task over the war in Afghanistan,” and Frum eagerly repeats Knepper’s claims, taking them as—surprise!—more evidence that right-wingers are circling the wagons around their “extremists.”

David Swindle responds to Knepper’s allegations here, explaining that the tone of his Coulter critique, not simply the act of critiquing her, was the issue with his final NRB submission, and that either way, he wasn’t simply fired over a disagreement over tone—it was the last in a string of disappointments (including some, um, interesting views about sex) from Knepper. Knepper fires back here.

As NRB’s editor, Swindle is in a much better position to respond to the specifics if he so chooses than I am, so I’ll leave that to him. But I do have a couple thoughts about which side has more credibility.

First, the idea that NRB can’t take criticism of Coulter is preposterous. I should know—my very first post for the website did just that.

Second, the website is extremely comfortable with passionate disagreement among contributors on a lot of issues, many of which are arguably bigger than what somebody thinks about a particular pundit. A few examples:

Third, as I pointed out last week, we already know that David Frum’s standards of honesty are scandalously low – up to and including REPEATING SLANDER against people if it supports Frum’s agenda. Until Frum owns up to his past misdeeds, every word that appears on FrumForum should be read with extreme skepticism by the handful of readers who still waste their time there.

Conservatism Can’t Survive Without the Pro-Life Movement, Part I (Updated)

The more I reflect on The Great NewsReal Abortion Debate, the more convinced I am that I made a critical error.

I want to revisit the issue of whether or not the pro-life cause is central or peripheral to the conservative movement.  I made clear where I stood on that question—as an egregious deprivation of human rights, abortion should be opposed by every lover of liberty with every fiber of his or her being—but I fear I didn’t go nearly far enough in explaining the implications of the answer.  This essay will explore the practical aspects of the matter; my next one will address the moral and philosophical.

I conceded that I could “basically support” the kind of ‘truce’ David Swindle was talking about, i.e. candidates centering their campaigns on the “two unifying issues” of the free market and defeating Islamofascism. That’s more or less how wartime Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan have run for office anyway (in Reagan’s case swapping out Islamofascism for the Soviet Union), and that’s okay.  I don’t have a problem with our candidates emphasizing some issues more than others to put voters’ most immediate concerns front and center, or to address crises that demand immediate resolution.

However, that doesn’t exempt a candidate from talking about the right to life at all, or from being pro-life.  I have already argued that pro-life principles are inseparable from core conservatism, and that abortion cannot be regarded as merely one issue among many, and I’ll elaborate more on those points in the next post.  But it’s also important because whether or not one is capable of recognizing abortion for the evil that it is, and is willing to do something about it, tells us something about what he or she is made of. I know there are exceptions (Ron Paul is pro-life but deranged, Joe Lieberman is radically pro-abortion, but firm on the war), but I truly believe that strongly pro-life candidates will tend to be of a higher caliber than pro-choice candidates in several qualities that will benefit public servants, and the American people, in all areas: Read the rest of this entry »

Sorry, But Conservatism’s Still Not Dead

Yesterday Republicans took the governor’s mansions of Virginia & New Jersey, and Maine voted for true marriage.  David Horowitz is hailing Virginia’s ideological turnaround in particular as bad news for Barack Obama:

The 62-38 swing by 8:30PM EST  is a thirty point electoral swing since last November. And in a state whose northern heavily populated districts front on the White House lawn and whose news is national news. It’s early; New Jersey isn’t in. But the significance of this landslide cannot be understated. An electorally decisive part of the electorate who voted for Obama last November voted against him in Virginia today.

Which means: Obamacare is dead. For now.

Postscript: New Jersey, when you consider that Obama won the state by 15 points is also a landslide shift (20 points) — mainly among independents. By not governing as a centrist Obama has forfeited his margin of victory and doomed his health care reform. On CNN Carville said: If he doesn’t pass health care, the Democrats are going to get “slaughtered” because they will have shown that they can’t govern — they can’t get things done.

The Democrats’ only major victory is New York 23, where GOP bosses sunk gobs of money into a left-wing Republican, who was then trounced by the conservative third-party candidate Doug Hoffman.  Hoffman lost to Democrat Bill Owens, leading the usual suspects to blast the conservatives who rallied behind Hoffman.

Hoffman might not have been a dream candidate, but given how liberal (not to mention stupid and dishonest) the official GOP choice was, you can’t blame anyone for supporting him.  A four-point loss isn’t bad at all for somebody without experience as a candidate or a lawmaker; imagine how well he could have done if he had the support he should have had from the Republican Party all along (or if, at the very least, they hadn’t been actively working against him).

And besides, just because David Frum has decided to put politics over principle doesn’t give him the right to demand that the rest of us do the same.  The Republican Party’s self-preservation and expansion of power is not an end to itself—it’s a vehicle for advancing certain principles, and only has worth to the extent that it reflects or advances those principles.

Goliath Has Nothing to Fear from These Davids

David Frum is promoting David Brooks’ latest column, in which Brooks says:

Just months after the election and the humiliation, everyone is again convinced that Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest possess real power. And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it. They mistake media for reality. They pre-emptively surrender to armies that don’t exist.

They pay more attention to Rush’s imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it’s more interested in pleasing Rush’s ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer’s niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician’s coalition-building strategy.

The rise of Beck, Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the rest has correlated almost perfectly with the decline of the G.O.P. But it’s not because the talk jocks have real power. It’s because they have illusory power, because Republicans hear the media mythology and fall for it every time.

This is delusional on several fronts. Brooks’ claim that the GOP is at the mercy of talk radio is totally undercut by his own column’s earlier observation about John McCain’s primary success, despite the longstanding bad blood between McCain and the pundits. But that’s not to say his other claim, that the talkers have no sway with the actual voters, is much better — just ask Harriet Miers, the United Arab Emirates, or the Republicans who wanted to ram amnesty through Congress (all issues talk radio sounded the alarm on) how far they got.

It’s interesting that Brooks attributes the GOP’s decline to the rise of Glenn Beck (who didn’t really hit it big until after Obama’s victory), Sean Hannity (who was a superstar well before any discernible GOP decline, and was doing his usual routine during Republicans’ Congressional gains in 2002 and both of George W. Bush’s victories in 2000 & 2004), and Bill O’Reilly (an independent with hawkish defense and law-&-order sentiments, but also a global-warming believer who spends half his time demonizing oil companies and treating any politician who might give him an interview with kid gloves), and not to what these supposedly-kowtowing Republicans actually did:

Bush and the Republicans spent massively, especially in Bush’s first term. We opposed that, mightily. The president’s most cherished initiative, probably, was the Faith-Based Initiative. We opposed that. Then there was his education policy: No Child Left Behind. We opposed that (mainly on grounds that it wrongly expanded the federal role). He had his new federal entitlement: a prescription-drug benefit. We of course opposed that. He imposed steel tariffs—for a season—which we opposed. He signed the McCain-Feingold law on campaign finance—which we opposed. He established a new cabinet department, the Department of Homeland Security. We opposed that. He defended race preferences in the University of Michigan Law School case; we were staunchly on the other side. He of course proposed a sweeping new immigration law, which included what amounted to amnesty. We were four-square against that.

I am talking about some things that were very dear to Bush’s heart, and central to his efforts—and self-image, as a leader. NR, the conservative arbiter, opposed those things. The Republican party, by and large, supported them—with one glaring exception: the immigration push.

He might also do well to consider that McCain’s failed presidential bid was hardly in the mold of a Limbaugh broadcast, or, if he’s really feeling intellectually curious, he could ask himself what effect a primary field divided among multiple candidates with partial claims to certain aspects of conservatism (Romney on economics, Huckabee on social issues, Giuliani on terrorism, etc.) might have had.

David Brooks is dead wrong, but we shouldn’t be surprised that David Frum is enamored — these days Frum dreams of a new conservatism that looks suspiciously like liberalism, and spends more time hyperventilating about TV personalities’ occasional missteps than extremists in the White House.

(Cross-posted at The HF Blog.)

The Conservative Chessboard (UPDATED)

David Frum’s attacks on Glenn Beck have spurred NewsReal’s David Swindle to pen an interesting take on the conservative movement and the roles of different types of figures within it.  He calls it the Conservative Chessboard:

The ideological, political war in this country is basically a chess match between the Left and the Right. Beck and Frum are different pieces with different styles and abilities. Beck, Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, most of Fox News, and most of talk radio constitute our side’s Rooks. They are strong, fast, blunt, effective (at what they do) and aggressive. They are tremendously valuable pieces in the game.

Frum and many other quieter, intellectual conservatives or center-right writers are more akin to our side’s Bishops. They’re not quite as valuable and effective as the rooks but they still provide an elegance and sophistication that is necessary in the defense of America. They do things that the rooks cannot do.

(And by now no one should be wondering where Coulter fits in. She exhibits both the aggressiveness of the rook and the intellectualism of the bishop. As I’ve stated before, she’s our queen — the most valuable piece on the board.)

The King of the Right is not an individual. It’s the American Idea — the one idea that all pieces are working together in their different ways to defend.

[…]

Who we cast as the Knights and the Pawns is something I open up for discussion. (Sometimes I wonder if we Generation Y conservatives might be somewhat Knight-like in the way we move. We might not yet have the reach and strength of the Boomer and Gen-X rooks and bishops but we can jump over many of the ideological stereotypes and problems of those that came before us.)

We could probably debate for some time precisely how to cast certain figures—while Hannity’s never going to be mistaken for one of the Bishops, Limbaugh frequently rises above the level of mere Rook, and for radio personalities who further blur the line between brain and brawn, look no further than Dennis Prager or Michael Medved.

Also debatable is just how far one can deviate from the norm and still be, on balance, an asset.  David Frum, for instance, is a stalwart defender of Israel and a serious observer of foreign policy, but when it comes to domestic policy, he spends most of his time arguing for a new “conservatism” that sounds an awful lot like liberalism, or hyperventilating about talk radio and Pat Toomey (and let’s not forget his dishonorable role in Tillergate).  In my estimation, as good as Frum might be on war & peace, he’s not offering anything that can’t be readily gleaned from thinkers who don’t have his baggage.

At the other end of the spectrum you have the real extremists and nuts, like the Birthers and the Paulistinians.  Robert Stacy McCain, while a supporter of neither, doesn’t think there’s much to be gained by freaking out over them; he says we should “get used to the idea that the conservative coalition of the future will be a loud, rowdy and unruly bunch, composed of diverse people with disparate beliefs.”  I think there’s some truth to that—this summer I wrote that “as anyone who’s ever tried to calm down Crazy Uncle Billy at Thanksgiving dinner should realize, it’s insane to expect that Michael Steele or Rush Limbaugh can somehow enforce behavioral lockstep among every member of a movement comprised of millions of people”—but I think Stacy’s a little too dismissive of the phenomenon.  Again, anyone who cares about a cause has to be concerned when wrong is done in that cause’s name, and while you should never expect credit from the Left for doing the “responsible” thing, I do think it’s useful to get on the record against true extremism, which isn’t the same as cowering in fear of whatever fake outrage the Left tries to make into political kryptonite.

On the whole, though, I think Swindle has come up with a great analogy, as long as we don’t mistake the Rooks’ specialty for aggression for an absence of the Bishops’ intellect, and vice-versa (which I don’t mean to suggest he has done), and as long as we maintain logical standards for the minimum expected of the pieces.

UPDATE: Many thanks to David for the feedback!  I’ll be sure to give it some thought and respond as soon as classwork allows.

UPDATE 2: Here’s my reaction.  The short version: “I believe Generation Y Conservatives can embrace and reinforce our generation’s potential while countering the arrogance of youth and fighting for the timelessness of truth, justice and the American way.”

Around the Web (Extremist Edition)

Think your neighbor might be a racist?  Via Power Line, here’s a handy chart that helps you find out (Newsweek can help in that regard, too).

The Washington Post reports that the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit has struck down some major campaign finance restrictions; political advocacy groups “are now free to accept unlimited contributions, to spend unlimited funds independently supporting or opposing federal candidates.”  Interestingly, this particular suit was first filed by the pro-abortion Emily’s List, yet the report stresses that the ruling could be “a boon to groups tapping into the fervor of anti-Obama activity and ‘tea party’ events.”  Regardless of whose ox is being gored, the fewer restrictions on participation in the political process, the better.

Via Hot Air, even more reasons to distrust David Brock’s con men at Media Matters: first, they accuse Hot Air of “smearing” Van Jones by making the true statement that he was a 9/11 Truther.  Of course, in order to support this lie, MM needs to selectively omit pesky language about “immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur.”  Second, they’ve been caught selectively editing video of Glenn Beck discussing the recent ACORN sting operations, removing precisely what they accuse Beck of not saying.  Unbelievable.

Speaking of Glenn Beck, conservative-hating conservative David Frum has been on the warpath against Fox’s newest rising star.  David Horowitz has been sticking up for Beck, and catching Frum in a lie or two in the process.  Frum has nothing to say about the substance of Horowitz’s arguments, aside from complaining that Beck’s apparently too cozy with Ron Paul.  Is he?  I don’t know—it’s late, I’m not Glenn Beck’s spokesman (I tend to think he does more good than harm, but he’s unquestionably eccentric), and I’ve got better things to do than watch old cable news interviews.  You can decide for yourself if you’re so inclined.  I will say, however, that I strongly disagree with any conservative who gives so much as a second’s airtime to this lunatic, and Beck deserves criticism for that, no matter how defensible some of Paul’s domestic-policy ideas may be.  But is a TV host being overly-friendly to certain guests grave enough to warrant the kind of purge Frum (ironically, given his big-tent worship) demands?  I don’t think so.

Earlier this week, Frum also linked uncritically to this HuffPo piece claiming that Beck has supposedly lost over half his ad revenue…without mentioning it’s a reprint of the press release from Color of Change, the guys behind the boycott.  Neither did he mention that their claims are crap.

Lastly, in case you haven’t noticed, alleged onetime conservative (and current pathetic toad) Charles Johnson has incurred the wrath of Robert Stacy McCain for his rank smear-mongering.  Here’s Stacy’s latest.  Required reading?  Nah, but it’s darn satisfying.  Oh, how I love the smell of smoked weasel in the morning…

Pat Toomey & Arlen Specter: Neck and Neck

I’ve written before about how the anger resercons like David Frum have for Pat Toomey is both unprincipled and foolish.  Today, with the 2010 midterms still over a year off, Arlen Specter’s once-profound lead has disappeared: Quinnipiac has Specter at 45%, Toomey 44%, “and voters say 49 – 40 percent that Sen. Specter does not deserve reelection.”  Anything could happen between now and Election Day, but there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic that Republicans can regain Specter’s seat—and do it by putting principle over (faux) pragmatism.

No wonder the guys at New Majority haven’t mentioned Toomey in a while…

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