David Frum, Time's 'Must Read' Expert, Trashes CPAC, Misquotes Limbaugh

It wasn't enough (as Brent Baker noted) for Time magazine to run down Sarah Palin's "anti-intellectual drivel" and twitterpate for the umpteenth time over Obama's "gloriously American mongrel ethnicity." They had to run down the tea-party movement by highlighting the media's favorite Republican strategist -- David Frum. Placed at the top of their "Must Reads" section at Time.com, Frum rounded out their trashing of the Tea Party convention by getting in the first Time digs at CPAC:

Ann Coulter made news at the 2007 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) by calling John Edwards a vulgar term for a homosexual. At CPAC 2009, Rush Limbaugh urged conservatives to "stamp out" those in their movement who thought the era of Ronald Reagan had ended.

Bottom scraped? Not quite. Next week, Glenn Beck will headline the 2010 CPAC.

Would it surprise Time editors that Frum is misquoting Limbaugh? He didn't say "stamp out" the moderates. He said "stamp out" the tendency to throw the Reagan voters overboard:

The era of Reagan is over? When the hell do you hear a Democrat say the era of FDR is over? You never hear it. Not only that, the President of the United States today thinks he's FDR, thinks he's Abraham Lincoln, and sometimes, Tuesday night, thinks he's Ronald Reagan. Our own movement has members trying to throw Reagan out while the Democrats know they can't accomplish what they want unless they appeal to Reagan voters. We have got to stamp this out within this movement, because it will tear us apart. It will guarantee we lose elections. [Applause] 

We have to. You see, to me it's a no-brainer. It's not even something to me: How do you get rid of Reagan from conservatism? The blueprint -- the blueprint for landslide conservative victory is right there. Why in the hell do the smartest people in our room want to chuck it? I know why. I know exactly why. It's because they're embarrassed of some of the people who call themselves conservatives. These people in New York and Washington, cocktail elitists, they get made fun of when the next NASCAR race is on TV and their cocktail buds come up to them, those people are in your party? How do you put up with this? It would be easy to throw them overboard, so as to maintain these cocktail party/Beltway/New York City/inside-the-Beltway media relationships.

How much does that last sentence represent David Frum? His primary constituency is the media elite, not the Republican grass roots.

In the wake of Scott Brown winning in Massachusetts -- a moderate Republican -- Frum insists the Tea Party people are too intolerant of moderates? Yep.

Yes, when unemployment exceeds 10%, the GOP can elect a Senator in Massachusetts. But what happens when the economy returns to more normal conditions? The Republicans' recent electoral successes do not overcome 20 years of GOP difficulty appealing to women, young people and the college-educated. It wins elections by accumulating a huge supermajority in one demographic: whites, especially white men, who are not poor but who have not finished college. That's a big slice of America, but it's a shrinking slice. 

The Scott Brown victory ought to be an embarrassment for Frum, but the liberals at Time won't let him be dismissed. Frum makes it mildly interesting by admitting that conservatives are bringing lots of money and people into politics, more than the moderates. But after that nod, it's back to special pleading for moderates:  

If moderates are to flourish, they need an infrastructure to support them. The Democrats worked hard in the 1980s and '90s to showcase their centrist governors. They invented superdelegates to balance the left-wing activists who had saddled them with unelectable presidential candidates. They altered their primary schedule to enhance the clout of must-win states in the West and border South.

Republicans can learn from these examples. But first they have to say it loud and say it proud: The time has come to restore the center to the center-right coalition. Maybe it's even time to start a new convention so the centrists can meet face to face at least once a year, just as their conservative colleagues do. CenPAC, anyone?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis