David Frum: GOP Needs a Tony Blair-Like Figure Who’ll Reform Party ‘By Standing Up to Its Most Extreme Elements’

In a brief Thursday post on the Atlantic’s website, "reform conservative" pundit David Frum cited Eric Cantor’s primary loss to Dave Brat as further evidence that “Republican leaders” need to emerge to confront the “the destructive leadership of fanatics (and the cynics who make their living by duping fanatics)."

He cited Tony Blair as a model, someone " who revived his party by standing up to its most extreme elements," and asserted that if such leaders fail to appear, the GOP “might just as well already rename our dysfunctional party the Committee to Elect Hillary Clinton.” Frum’s entire post (emphasis added):

Eric Cantor tried to appease Republican radicals. They turned on him anyway.

John Boehner has tried to resist them. They just overwhelmed him.

Mitt Romney tried to join them—and in doing so fastened onto his party the platform that lost the presidential election of 2012.

At some point, Republican leaders must recognize that they have a fight on their hands whether they like it or not. If they refuse to join that fight, they will be devoured anyway. If they surrender, they condemn the whole conservative project in America to the destructive leadership of fanatics (and the cynics who make their living by duping fanatics).


This lesson keeps being administered. Republican leaders repeatedly refuse to learn.

The political exemplar most relevant to today's GOP is not the oft-invoked Ronald Reagan. It is Tony Blair, who revived his party by standing up to its most extreme elements. There is no such leadership yet on the Republican side. If Republicans don’t develop it soon, we might just as well already rename our dysfunctional party the Committee to Elect Hillary Clinton.

"Do not follow a multitude to do wrong." Whoever wrote that probably wasn't a practicing politician. But the author knew something about how to save politicians from their most self-defeating impulses.

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters