Can the Republicans get anywhere by being the party of “no?” This is the question The New York Times takes up in a wide-ranging and provocative new piece.
At the heart of the essay, though, is the human tale of David Frum, a former George W. Bush speechwriter. In the wake of the health care reform bill, Frum wrote a searching, honest post, in which he pondered the Republicans’ position of no-compromise and the bulling, silencing power of the conservative “entertainment industry”:
We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.
There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or — more exactly — with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother? I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters — but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead …
So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.
In the wake of the post, which went viral, Frum was reportedly called in to meet with the head of the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, where he had long been a resident scholar. Read the rest of this entry »