David Frum: Joe Klein's Kind of Conservative

Time's Joe Klein took to his magazine's Swampland blog yesterday evening to defend former AEI scholar David Frum.

In doing so, Klein [pictured in file photo at right] contrasted Frum with "extreme" conservatives who were "pretty close to Jonestown" by "drinking their own kool-aid." Not only is the former Bush speechwriter a friend whose thinking he respects "even when we disagree," Klein argued that Frum is the Right's Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a genteel intellectual who bucked his party on some tenets of its orthodoxy but ultimately was vindicated by history:

I have some experience with a party intent on committing suicide. The Democrats were profoundly self-destructive when it came to race and crime in the 1970s and 1980s. They nearly excommunicated Daniel Patrick Moynihan--one of my mentors--because he told the truth about the impact of out-of-wedlock births on the black family. Over time, Moynihan's thesis was proved by sociology--and supported by prominent AFrican-American [sic] progressive scholars like William Julius Wilson--but he was never really welcomed back into the fold. And he didn't really care. Because he knew he was right.

I consider David Frum a friend. I respect his thinking even when we disagree. I suspect that, like Pat Moynihan, he'll be proven right over time and Republicans will come to regret that they didn't try to negotiate a better health care bill (which they could have--especially when it came to limiting the explosion of Medicaid growth, the strengthening of the Exchange marketplaces and perhaps even tort reform). Just in terms of the negative impact on our democracy, it's sad to see what's happening over in the GOP.

To Klein, Republican dissent against ObamaCare has a "negative impact on our democracy," as opposed to if Republicans had accepted the basic leftist premise of the Democratic plan and merely tried to tinker around the edges to reach a bipartisan consensus.

Of course that sounds an awful lot like the Republican Party of post-World War II America up to the Reagan presidency, when the GOP was the party of slightly cheaper big government, rather than the vehicle of a political movement that stood against the advance of government at the expense of individual liberty.

Apparently Klein's kind of conservative is one who cedes ideological and moral ground to the Left in part out of embarrassment at vocal conservatives who are unafraid to be deemed less sophisticated by the media's liberal elite.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters