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David Frum

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  • Frum on Glenn Beck's Alternate Reality

    Blog ››› ››› FAE JENCKS

    In an op-ed in today's New York Times, Bush administration speechwriter David Frum describes the growing reliance of the "Post-Tea-Party Nation" on alternate realities, attributing the trend to what he dubs the "Glenn Beck phenomenon." In outlining what Frum calls "the danger of closed information systems," he criticizes those who follow Beck-ian theories of alternative history for basing their views on this "pretend information." From economics, to the very tenets of U.S. history, Frum outlines the inherent contradictions between Beck's world and reality:

    Every day, Beck offers alternative knowledge -- an alternative history of the United States and the world, an alternative system of economics, an alternative reality. As corporate profits soar, the closed information system insists that the free-enterprise system is under assault. As prices slump, we are warned of imminent hyperinflation. As black Americans are crushed under Depression-level unemployment, the administration's policies are condemned by some conservatives as an outburst of Kenyan racial revenge against the white overlord.

    As we've noted before, Beck's revisionism seeps into nearly every facet of American history. In Beck's mind, the real truth about our nation has been hidden, and it is up to Glenn Beck himself to educate the American people all over again.

    Take, for example, the history of race relations in America. According to Beck, things were going well in America all the way from the 1790s to just before the Civil War. In fact, Beck even claimed that freed slaves founded Liberia because, though they "wanted to go back to Africa," they appreciated all of the liberties they were afforded in the U.S.

    Among the litany of other completely erroneous or bizarre claims made by Beck include: that France gave the Statue of Liberty to the United States as "a slap in the face" to other European countries; that FDR prolonged the Great Depression; and that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor because Woodrow Wilson turned the British against them - just to name a few.

    Beck also rewrites the history of his political opponents in order to smear them. In the past week, Beck has repeatedly lied about George Soros' actions as a 14-year-old in Nazi-occupied Hungary in order to paint him as a Holocaust collaborator -- a smear that the Anti-Defamation League called "offensive and over the top."

    As Frum warns in his column, Beck's distortions simply create panic, not solutions. Recently, Beck has warned that we're on the verge of a "Weimar moment," despite considerable evidence to the contrary, and stoked fears of a "food crisis" resulting from massive inflation.

    Beck has said that his show would "alter the course of history." As Frum points out, most of his efforts seem geared to doing that by distorting his audience's understanding of the past.

  • What exactly is a "polite-company conservative"?

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Politico's Michael Calderone has a post up about David Frum, who said just yesterday, "Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox."

    Calderone writes:

    Just about every time I include David Frum's views on anything related to Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh, I hear about it from fellow his fellow conservatives in comments and emails. Frum, they'll say, doesn't speak for them.

    Frum, the former Bush speechwriter, has strong views on the future of the Republican Party, and is respected by some leading figures on the right, as Daniel Libit wrote last September in POLITICO. But he's got a lot of right-wing foes, too, especially in the talk radio world.

    And it seems he also has a critic in Tunku Varadarajan, a former Wall Street Journal editorial board member and now a writer at the Daily Beast. For Varadarajan, Frum is representative of a certain speecies of conservative that one may find in cities connected by the Acela.

    David is a man I've known professionally for almost a decade, and with whom my social interaction has always been very genial. He is a good and energetic man, and has, in the years since he left service at the White House, dedicated himself to being what I call a "polite-company conservative" (or PCC), much like David Brooks and Sam Tanenhaus at the New York Times (where the precocious Ross Douthat is shaping up to be a baby version of the species). A PCC is a conservative who yearns for the goodwill of the liberal elite in the media and in the Beltway-who wishes, always, to have their ear, to be at their dinner parties, to be comforted by a sense that their liberal interlocutors believe that they are not like other conservatives, with their intolerance and boorishness, their shrillness and their talk radio. The PCC, in fact, distinguishes himself from other conservatives not so much ideologically-though there is an element of that-as aesthetically.

    So, Varadarajan thinks Frum, Brooks and Tanenhaus are "polite-company conservatives." Read his description of that term one more time: "[A] conservative who yearns for the goodwill of the liberal elite in the media and in the Beltway-who wishes, always, to have their ear, to be at their dinner parties, to be comforted by a sense that their liberal interlocutors believe that they are not like other conservatives, with their intolerance and boorishness, their shrillness and their talk radio."

    Implied in the very term "polite-company conservative" is the notion that because of their behavior and ability to mince words or hold back, such people are welcome with open arms by the media elite, i.e. they are acceptable in polite company. They get column space, marquee television time, and invitations to fancy parties etc. In other words, they are accepted... a form of validation bestowed by our media.

    This is, of course, ridiculous. The idea that the Frums of this world have done anything to become "polite-company conservatives" is a load of crap. If anything, they represent the rare exception of thoughtful media conservatives who largely refrain from nastiness and bomb-throwing.

    It would be far more accurate - if speaking from the mentality of our media - to term people like Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and other similar conservative media stars as "polite-company conservatives." After all, they can say anything -- no matter how offensive or wrong -- and it doesn't seem to keep them off of tony programs like the Today Show, The View, Good Morning America or the major broadcast and cable news networks. In other words, they can do or say anything and still be accepted in "polite-company."

    I guess you could call it the media's golden rule when it comes to punditry: Conservatives are mainstream no matter how right-wing, bigoted or otherwise untruthful their views, while progressives can't stray too far from the center or else they risk being considered illegitimate and not part of polite company.

    Need more evidence?

    I'm sure Ann Coulter has a new book on the horizon (doesn't she always?) and we all know her history. If you think that history will keep her from making the rounds on the cable and broadcast news chat shows, think again. It never has before.

    When was the last time that someone as liberal and mean-spirited as Ann Coulter is conservative and mean-spirited got even a minute of time in front of the camera?

    Then again, I struggle to even think of a liberal example that fits the Coulter-mold.

  • Look who Newsbusters calls a "moderate"

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Newsbusters' Matthew Balan complains:

    CNN's Candy Crowley neglected to include sound bites from conservatives during a report about Sarah Palin on Tuesday's American Morning, other than from the former Alaska governor herself. While Crowley did acknowledge the widespread support that Palin has among conservative Republicans, she only used clips from moderate commentator David Frum, Democrat Bill Owens, and colleague Wolf Blitzer. [Emphasis added]

    David Frum has worked as a speechwriter for George W. Bush, a senior fellow at the right-wing Manhattan Institute, and an editor for the right-wing editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. He has been an advisor to Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign and a contributing editor to National Review. He is a resident fellow at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, and serves on the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He supported John McCain's presidential campaign, and has written books titled "Dead Right," "What's Right: The New Conservative Majority and the Remaking of America," "The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush," "Comeback: Conservatism that can win again." And he co-wrote a book with Richard Perle.

    But Newsbusters' Matthew Balan says Frum isn't a conservative; he's a moderate, and that CNN's report therefore failed to fearture any soundbites from conservatives. Oh, except Sarah Palin.

    Another, more sane, way to look at the report would be to say it featured clips of two conservatives, Frum and Palin, and only one progressive, Democrat Bill Owens.

    Oh, and that Owens clip? Here it is, in its entirety:

    CONGRESSMAN-ELECT BILL OWENS: Thank you very much.

    Oh, the bias!

  • National Review's Frum suggested Jefferson scandal proves Democrats "have the impulse to protect and shield their own when their own are guilty"

    ››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

    On CNN's Reliable Sources, National Review contributor editor David Frum baselessly suggested that Democrats, unlike Republicans, "have the impulse to protect and shield their own when their own are guilty," comparing the Democrats' response to allegations that Rep. William Jefferson accepted bribes with the Republican leadership's handling of the Foley matter to make his point.