Three weeks ago, I tweeted this:
@shoq: Somewhere, deep inside @DavidFrum, there’s a useful progressive yearning to be free: j.mp/tcQXDr #p2
I was being a bit glib about it, but I was trying to express an intuition about a sense I’ve had about a slow and sometimes erratic transformation in Frum’s daily political countenance. And I got some swift kicks for it from liberal friends, particularly the esteemed Jamison Foser at Mediamatters. But my point was that anyone who has watched him the past few years can see that, if certainly not a liberal emerging, he was at least a devout conservative who was frequently bucking the tide of wretched effluent spewing from that culvert of catastrophe called the Republican party.
I so loathed him as the architect of Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech, that it took me years of reading him to even begin to consider him as anything more than a skilled propagandist who would throw polemical trojan horse bon bons at the left, so he could poison their narratives with a stealthy political rhetoric packed deep within.
But while almost every other actual or self-styled conservative intellectual (forgive the oxymoron) has laboriously propped up the growing Republican stupidocracy, he’s been one of the very few to consistently show that not all conservatives have surrendered to a future history that will inevitably paint them as completely batshit crazy.
While Foser’s cautions never go unheeded, I think this week, I’ve been proved more right than wrong in my instincts. Frum has just published a scathing evisceration of everything wrong with, if not conservative philosophy as a whole (which would be a nice next step), but at the very least, the feckless and reckless Republican party that now makes a mockery of any pretense it had that it was capable of leading this nation out of the terrifyingly deep hole that it helped to dig for us.
Far from a delicately nuanced piece that could be labeled as some disingenuous ruse to secure his own @MSNBC TV show, it was a candid, fiery, multi-count indictment of his cherished Republican party.
He titled his opus, thusly:
Some of my Republican friends ask if I’ve gone crazy. I say: Look in the mirror.
But as he goes on to articulate well, he knows that they won’t look in that mirror, because in fact, most of them can’t look and still keep their jobs or status in the decomposing framework of a political party they have helped to make for themselves and their careers. Finding the GOP to be all but a crippled ideological shell of what it was even a decade ago, he surgically dissects the cacophony of contrivances that that have been created during their exuberant transformation from a political party, into a manipulative marketing firm serving the Teaparty, Fox News, and their many people, products, and pseudo-candidates.
He goes on and on for 5 glorious web pages about how these players have merchandized all of this mayhem with nary a nominal concern for the environmental toxins they’ve introduced into our fragile socio-political eco-system, and each day demonstrate a nearly suicidal disregard for even the most obvious of immediate or long-term fiscal or social consequences.
I have yet to see anyone on the Left do as good a job of exposing the myriad of disastrous moral, ethical and philosophical fails that Frum’s party has brought down upon our once-proud country. He doesn’t touch on their culpability (or his) nearly enough, but what he does do, can be neatly summed up by this:
This isn’t conservatism; it’s a going-out-of-business sale for the baby-boom generation.
David Frum is hardly anyone’s idea of a liberal, but he certainly resembles those left leaning Republicans of my youth. We called them Rockefeller Republicans back then. Today, we just call them sane.
I still have no small measure of doubt about Frum and his veracity. His past toadiness will linger for a long time, and I don’t forgive political crimes easily. And those doubts get compounded by the simple fact that despite this flogging of their failures, he still doesn’t officially renounce and leave his moribund party altogether. He knows that nothing is going to save it. It needs to be completely rehabbed, like some old rendering plant that may find a future reuse, but only after the stench and disease of decades of disgusting entrails have been sandblasted and power-washed away, then resurfaced with many layers of a good anti-fungal primer, followed by a thick top-coat of a quality semi-gloss that is not just more attractive to the mainstream, but also far more off-white than it had been.
But in fairness, as most Progressives know all too well, the Democratic Party could use a similar rehabbing. We have our own layers of repulsive filth to be redressed. It must be transformed from a 19th century relic of capitalist appeasers cloaked in civil rights clothing, into a truly dedicated engine for building a government dedicated to economic fairness and social justice in a new century. While an unlikely trendsetter, perhaps David Frum can start a trend.
I urge you to read his essay with an open mind, and credit him with a credit due. If we can get more of his colleagues to tell more truths like this, and praise them when we do, there may be yet be hope that more cultured and capable intellects can come together and help us find a way to get our cherished old American wagon out of this seemingly bottomless ditch. It’s a long shot, to be sure. But in faint hope, there can be found some hope. And that’s a lot more hope than we have now.
I hope you’ll pass this on. At the very least, it’s one small step for man, even if we have a very long way to go for the rest of human kind.