David Frum And Immigration



David Frum`s
judgment has proven so

comically bad
over the years that it`s easy to overlook
how often his analysis is acute. Now that Frum`s comically
long track record of inept enthusiasms and backstabbing has
left him almost isolated, it`s time to look beyond his
failures and review what he gets more or less right in his
campaign to revamp conservatism into a more…technocratic

The motto of his

, borrowed from the subtitle of his fairly
good 2008 book Comeback, is
“Building a
conservatism that can win again.”

But perhaps it`s not
quite time to overlook the past … First, let`s review some of Frum`s
legendary bad choices:

As a speechwriter for George W. Bush in
early 2002, at the height of America`s power and prestige,
Frum allegedly concocted the diplomatically disastrous phrase “Axis
of Evil
The best defense anyone could make of
Nobel Peace Prize
“Hey, at least Obama
didn`t lump sworn enemies Iraq and Iran along with the

distant despotism
North Korea
into a delusionary `axis.` You have to admit Obama`s got
that going for him.”

Frum then wrote a book about Bush entitled The Right Man.
Seriously! (Like so many things Frum gets involved with,
it`s actually pretty good, except for its main point.)

Frum became a power at
National Review. On March 19, 2003, on the eve of that ultimate
triumph of neoconservative brilliance, the
Iraq War,
he published in NR
his famously
call to ostracize the neocons` conservative
opponents, “Unpatriotic
Conservatives: A War against America

“But here is what
never could have been [
Some of the leading figures in this antiwar movement call
themselves "conservatives." … War is a great clarifier. It
forces people to take sides. The

have chosen — and the rest of us must
choose too. In a time of danger, they have turned their
backs on their country. Now we turn our backs on them.”

Amusingly, VDARE.com came in for some
abuse from Frum,
despite being a website about immigration, not foreign

And then there was his Invade the World
book co-written with Richard Perle, An End to Evil

Last I
checked, Evil still hadn`t gotten the message.

 Since I wrote about
Frum in VDARE.com in
(here`s his

long reply
), he has decided that the GOP must get better
at “governance.”


Unfortunately, Frum chose a strange way to show his concern
for good government: he

signed on
in late 2007 as
“senior policy
adviser to the

Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani is a creepy glory hog who forced
out New York`s excellent Police Commissioner

William Bratton
for cutting into his publicity, and
later gave Bratton`s old job to his mobbed-up


Bernie Kerik

surprisingly, Giuliani proved poisonous to voters outside
the Five Boroughs.

On Inauguration Day, Frum loudly quit
National Review
and set up a collective blog ambitiously entitled
determined to take back the GOP from
Palin fans
. Eventually, he discovered he didn`t own the
rights to that catchy moniker and had to switch to the more
. There, he posts items about how a
is better than cap-and-trade, which is no doubt true
(but a carbon tax isn`t going to make conservatism win
again), and about how
Lieberman Saves the Country
, which I`m not
even going to read.

In March, Frum publicized his new venture
by penning a Newsweek
cover story attack on Rush Limbaugh,

Why Rush Is
, [Mar 7, 2009] that gave the magazine an
excuse for running an
even more unflattering than normal
picture of Limbaugh

(By the way, have you noticed how
Newsweek seems to
be aiming at an ever-narrower demographic slice these days?
Ever since its redesign, it appears to be written solely for
the next-door neighbors in the D.C. suburbs of the
magazine`s editors: a

Sierra Club
lobbyist, say, on one side and a Pentagon
counter-insurgency consultant on the other.)


concern troll
essay about how Limbaugh was playing into
Obama`s hands by

setting himself up as the GOP`s leader
was derisory. The
Party doesn`t currently have a leader, which is one reason
2009 has been a better year for the GOP than 2006, 2007, and
2008—when the GOP was led by Frum favorites


, and

, respectively.

Limbaugh is a big boy, capable of
defending himself. Still, it`s worth noting that attacking a
conservative in
was representative of Frum`s
modus operandi
going back to Yale. He consistently tries to position
himself as the acceptable face of conservatism with whom
liberals can deal. (For an analysis of Frum`s career, see

Daniel McCarthy`s essay in
The American
Typically, he`s now a regular on


all its Mainstream Media publicity, NewMajority, or
FrumForum or whatever it`s now called, doesn`t seem to be
making much of a splash. His
, with its many industrious contributors, doesn`t
get as many

as my own haphazardly updated, unmentionable in
the MSM, one-man

In a
way, that`s too bad, because Frum has some ideas worth
hearing, although he hasn`t figured out how to fit them
together coherently.

Internationally, his views have only matured over the years
by a single letter. Instead of attacking Iraq, we`re now
supposed to attack


Domestically, Frum argues that the GOP
needs to win more college graduate voters (which is true).
So, he says, it should give up on resisting
(which isn`t).

AP reported
on November 4, 2009:
“Gay marriage has now
lost in every single state – 31 in all – in which it has
been put to a popular vote.”
The GOP unilaterally
disarming itself on gay marriage would be like the
Indianapolis Colts benching

Peyton Manning

(It`s not as if the Republicans have a lot
of other winning
issues. Carbon tax, anyone?)

And is gay marriage
good governance?”
Nobody knows. We likely won`t understand its impact on
marriage for another generation. As global warming advocates
point out: Why take the risk?

New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, the
epitome of the moderate Republican, thought he was engaging
in good governance when his

administration made it easier

unmarried mothers
to qualify for Aid to Families with
Dependent Children. Instead he

governanced New York
into crime
and decay.

Frum asserts that instead of opposing the

Democrats` health care plan,
Republicans should have
helped Democrats make it better, which just sounds
hopelessly naïve.

voted for a lot of Republican politicians going back to
1977, but I can`t imagine many of them would have done their
country or their party any favors by sticking their mitts in
the Democrats` bill.

derides the obstructionism of the GOP in 2009. But it`s been
a solidarity-rebuilding year for Republicans. Negativism has
allowed them to unite around something they can agree on:
Democrats are bad.

Nevertheless, Frum`s concern with the ability of Republican
candidates to fulfill their duties once elected to office is

Most of
the debate surrounds the Democrats` ideological contention
that being for limited government automatically makes you
bad at governing. A more interesting question, one I`ve
never seen addressed empirically, is: What kind of
background makes you more likely to be a competent and
popular officeholder?

The GOP should hire a market research firm
to analyze the rates at which GOP candidates of various
backgrounds get elected—and then
local and state offices. For example, if CPAs get re-elected
to executive jobs at an above average rate, the Republican
Party could target more resources toward recruiting
accountants as candidates.

It would
be expensive to input all the data available from the
Internet on thousands of office-holders, but the GOP has

This project would be similar to baseball

Bill James`s
analysis three decades ago that
demonstrated major league baseball teams were wasting
opportunities in the annual amateur draft on high school
pitchers, when college pitchers proved much more reliable.
(Our society devotes more energy to rationalizing baseball
than to rationalizing public affairs, as shown by the
overnight success of baseball expert
when he set up his

election website last year. The
political world had never previously seen anybody as
quantitatively sharp as this baseball analyst.)

Another issue deserving empirical study by
the GOP: the

impact of officeholder salary
on the recruiting of
quality candidates. Because Republicans average higher
incomes than Democrats, my suspicion is that moderate

deter more high potential Republicans
than high
potential Democrats from running for office. The kind of
salary for an elected official that looks like a step up the
ladder to a Democratic activist might
like impoverishment
to a successful Republican
businessman. For instance, Barack Obama`s salary as an
Illinois state senator was roughly double the $35,000 he
made in his last year as a community organizer.

Strikingly, many of Frum`s better ideas sound like they were
lifted from VDARE.com`s early years. For example, compare
his clarion call in
that “it
is past time for us to rediscover our lost history as the
party not only of conservatism but of conservation”
my pair of 2001 VDARE.com articles
Conservatives v. Conservation
Patriotic Pro-Family Conservation Program for the GOP

At times, Frum goes way beyond anything I
would say, such as his 2008
New York Times
call for government subsidies to make eugenics
available to the poor. [The
Vanishing Republican Voter,
September 5, 2008]

Frum`s bravest stance is for immigration
restriction. He even links occasionally to

and to

my blog
. He was missing in action on the crucial
immigration issue for a while, but now it has become a
fairly routine, if limited, part of his repertoire.

Unfortunately, Frum hasn`t figured out any
way to make immigration restriction sound cooler to all

Washington D.C.
college graduates he wants the GOP to
appeal to (other than to try to silence VDARE.com).

independent-minded view on immigration is very much to
Frum`s credit because he is Jewish (not just
ethnocentrically, but also

) in an era when

Ellis Island schmaltz
has drowned out most intelligent
debate over immigration. The sad thing is that Frum can`t
call attention to his personal triumph of reason over
prejudice, because he is driven to

sputtering outrage
whenever anybody points out the
substantial correlation between

neocon ideology and Jewishness.

So, I`ll
do it for him:

Frum deserves praise for ranking with

Mickey Kaus
as one of the very few prominent Jewish
pundits who, through study of the facts and sheer reasoning
power, has publicly come to the conclusion that America
needs less immigration.

[Steve Sailer (email
him) is

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The American Conservative

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