A major proposition that I advance in a book that will be published later this month, After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery, is that there exists an odious subgroup of conservatives who since the beginning of the conservative movement have made their way to prominence in the mainstream media by a cheap act. They disparage with great melodrama other conservatives. Liberals love it -- and for a while love the disparagers. In the late 1990s Arianna Huffington exploited this instrument of self-promotion brazenly. For several years David Frum has been doing it haltingly, even timorously. However, in the last two weeks he has been pulling a Huffington with unusual boldness.
First he smeared Sean Hannity. Then he reproached conservative opponents of the Democrats' healthcare monstrosity. Now he is claiming martyrdom at the hands of Arthur Brooks, the head of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) that housed him as a resident fellow for seven years, reportedly at a salary of $100,000 a year. Brooks was willing to let him stay on at AEI but without a salary. Very theatrically Frum(p) quit, and the Liberals pronounced him a great man. My thesis is again vindicated, and you will understand my satisfaction in reporting that in Hangover I have embalmed Frum(p) as a perfect example of the conservative hustler, manipulating Liberal approval. I call his type the Reformed Conservatives (RCs).
By now, many Chronicles readers have no doubt heard that David Frum was fired from his cushy job at the American Enterprise Institute, following an online column claiming that the passage of Obamacare was the GOP’s “Waterloo,” which could have been avoided if the GOP had been more willing to negotiate with Obama. Frum is now charging that AEI tossed him because it was responding to pressure from its donors, a charge eminent AEI scholar Charles Murray has denounced at National Review Online as “despicable,” since it is unsupported by evidence and is calculated to appeal to the leftist media. But if Murray is only now discovering the nature of Frum, he has not been paying attention.
From the beginning, the Canadian carpetbagger has sought to climb the greasy pole by attacking those on his right, in ways designed to curry favor with the left. As an undergraduate at Yale, he joined leftists at Yale in urging the university to take control of the Yale Literary Magazine, then run by future Chronicles editor Andrei Navrozov.