Varadarajan on Frum
By David Henderson
I occasionally like to beat on Republicans too. They aren’t called the “stupid party” for nothing. When asked on a radio interview on Monday how the Republicans could screw up in the November midterms, I answered that it would be by passionately defending two bad wars rather than being the antiwar party they were in the mid to late 1990s.
But I found Frum’s analysis underwhelming. While I think the Republicans generally do a bad job of making a case, almost as badly as the Democrats do, I think they were above their average in the latest debate. I wasn’t thrilled by their newfound passion for socialized medicine for the elderly, aka, Medicare, but that very big caveat aside, I thought people like Paul Ryan did an excellent job.
When I have done op/eds for the Wall Street Journal, two of the editors I liked to deal with were David Frum and Tunku Varadarajan. David did a nice job of shortening my 1990 article(http://www.davidrhenderson.com/articles/0902_sorrysaddam.html) in which I showed how implausible was the Bush/Baker/Kissinger case for war on Iraq because of Iraq’s effect on world oil supplies. (Although the title he gave it made no sense and, in fact, undercut my article’s message.)
But David makes a poor argument and Tunku calls him out particularly effectively. The whole thing is worth reading, but here’s one excerpt:
If the GOP had done what David wishes, what would they have left to play for politically? How could they ever claim to stand for limited government again? They did enough damage to that with Medicare drugs and all the spending in the last decade. If they’d sold out here in the interest of “bipartisanship” or “polite conservatism,” what would be left to distinguish them from the competition? Obama was never going to give them more than token gestures of support in any bill, anyway. He wanted an ideological bill, whose centerpiece is regulation and wealth redistribution, and he got it.
Of course, with or without their cooperation on this bill, the Republicans will have trouble, as they have always had, standing for limited government. Think bailouts, torture, nationalizing airport security, surveillance on Americans, supporting two wars of aggression, the USA PATRIOT Act, and the drug war, to name a few. But when I find someone willing to ally on holding back government, I treat him as an ally.
Tunku also goes on to “psychologize,” that is, explain David’s behavior. I generally don’t like people doing this, even when it’s to people I disagree with, but it fits everything I know about David Frum’s career path.