David Frum Vs. The Liberal Media

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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33 Responses

  1. Morzer says:

    Not to be unkind, but you spend four paragraphs on introductory waffle, cite one long segment of Frum’s argument without considering it on the merits, in detail or context, and then seem to be attempting to be snarky towards an assumed reader or readers in your conclusion.  Would you consider reducing the first four paragraphs to one which actually sets up whatever it is you want to say, then quoting more judiciously and widely from Frum, with your own comments, before finally drawing a conclusion?  I am sure you have something interesting to say about Frum and his piece, but this version reads rather poorly and is un-illuminating at best.Report

  2. North says:

    Gotta echo Morzer here Elias, that first third was written so convolutedly that I almost had to draw a chart.

    What this all seems to boil down to is:

    -Sully tut-tutted left wing liberals for not liking Obama as much as Sully does. This makes left wing liberals vexed.

    -Frum tried to contradict some of the stuff in Sully’s article but did a bad job about it.Report

  3. The comparison for Frum is Bruce Bartlett. Today Bartlett is known as the last honest conservative in America. But after his excommunication, he too spent some time trying to get back into the good graces of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

    Fired from his GOP-affiliated PR firm for having written, in 2005, that Republicans should care about the deficit, Bartlett then wrote a book called “Wrong on Race”, blurbed by Grover Norquist, about the Democratic Party’s sordid history with race. (It’s a history that’s not news, nor relevant to today’s parties, of course. The Democratic Party did indeed have a bad record on race, until it decided to support civil rights and desegregation, sparking Southern whites like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond to flee the party en masse for the GOP. Then the Southern Strategy happened, and here we are).

    So, sure, Frum is churning out a whole bunch of hackish anti-Obama and pro-Romney articles that just plain don’t follow from his substantive work at Frum Forum the past few years. But getting excommunicated is hard, personally and professionally. Give him some time. He could become intellectually honest someday.

    As to the two comments above, well, this post is clear enough to me, though I’m probably more familiar with Sullivan & Frum than most people.Report

    • I’d no idea Bartlett had written such a book. Very interesting. It seems that when they’re excommunicated, they always need to write a book as either self-justification or as a final plea for acceptance (The Conservative Soul, for example). I guess once Frum’s book is out I might take him a bit more seriously. As it is, his post Frum Forum work has been—like you said—mostly a transparent attempt to parlay this new, bigger platform into a re-embrace by the Right. It’s pretty silly when one considers that the only reason he’s at The Weekly Beast to being with is because of his heterodox work at Frum Forum.Report

  4. BSK says:

    I’m confised by the whole liberal media meme. When Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, with their giant listening and viewing audiences claim the media is ignoring a story that they are talking about, are they disavowing themselves of their membership on the media? Are they disavowing each other? It just boggles my mind how major media members can complain about a story not being reported by the media while they are reporting on it. Sorry, I know I’m riffing OT but I see liberal media and all I think of is this nonsense.Report

  5. James Hanley says:

    This morning on NPR Frum was talking about “conservative rage” against Obama.

    I don’t get it, and while this is a bit of a threadjack, I’m hoping someone here at the League who doesn’t identify as liberal–that is, someone who’s not anti-conservative–can explain it to me.

    I get disliking Obama and supporting any GOP candidate against him.  But the “rage” business just leaves me bewildered. What exactly has he done that’s so rage-inducing?  What has he done that no GOP president before him did?

    I ask this seriously (which is why I’m looking for a conservative, not liberal) response.  Something is driving this rage, but I’m unable to see what it is.Report

    • I’d say race but in truth they hated Clinton just as much. Plus I’m a libtard.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Elias Isquith says:

        Elias, And I’m inclined to agree with you, on both points. But I don’t think either of us is in a position to overcome that outside bias.Report

      • That’s true, but race is involved:

        despite the Obama administration’s race neutral agenda over the last three years, four nationally representative surveys conducted in the last nine months—two by YouGov and two commissioned by the American National Election Study—suggest that racial resentment will be just as strong, if not a stronger, determinant of opposition to Obama in 2012.  Indeed … the most racially resentful were roughly 70 percentage points less supportive of Obama’s reelection than racially sympathetic whites, even after controlling for the fact that Republicans and conservatives are more likely to score high on racial resentment in the first place. …


      • LauraNo in reply to Elias Isquith says:

        I don’t think the hate was anywhere near as vile and palpable for Clinton as it is now for Obama. It might be, at least in part, that people are ashamed of their strident defense of a president who turned out to be wrong on most of the issues they claim to care about. Rather than admitting this, they take it out on the democrat? Also, there is a racial undercurrent here. The disrespect that is shown to the president, by those who supposedly revere our institutions (when they are not trying to sabotage them, anyway), the affront they feel at the thought of President Obama and anything he does and the ridiculous hysteria on display at the president going to a public school to address the children (OMG,OMG, the socialist is indoctrinating our kids, close the schools!), etc means something.Report

    • Conservatives spent years withholding criticisms of Bush for being insufficiently conservative. It was going to have to come out somehow.

      That’s one of my theories, anyway. One of my gentler ones.Report

      • I don’t think the numbers bear that out, Will. As Bush left office, he had a 28 percent approval rating from independents and a 75% rating from Republicans, according to Gallup. According to an ABC/WaPo poll, Bush left office with 34% approval from independents, and 68% from Republicans– but 82% from self-professed “conservative Republicans”. Over the course of his presidency, Bush received an average of about 80% of self-described “conservative Republicans” polled by Pew.

        Those same conservative Republicans, now refashioned as the “Tea Party”, maintain today that they are very preoccupied with the deficit and with federal & executive power. But we know they don’t care about those things, because they were Pres. Bush’s most loyal supporters.

        (Links to substantiate all that are available at this post on my blog).

        It’s not that they were withholding support or criticism; it’s that they truly loved George Bush, and bought all the hagiographies the conservative intelligentsia pumped out about him.Report

        • “stuck by” =! “love”

          They stuck by Bush, and therefore withheld criticism of Bush’s spending. They withheld criticism of his immigration plan. They withheld criticism of everything that he did that they did not like.

          With Obama, they don’t need to hold back. They can say everything that they would have said about Bush if the alternative to Bush hadn’t been John Kerry and Al Gore.

          And so… let’er rip.Report

        • Jesse Ewiak in reply to reflectionephemeral says:

          I look forward to the ‘Bush was better than we thought’ reimagining of his term in about 2024 or so when George P. Bush is ready to be on the national stage.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        Trumwill, I like this theory. Here, I’ll give a similar one about Clinton.

        For 8 years, a non-zero number of progressives stood by Clinton. The Paula Jones thing erupted within a deep breath of the Clarence Thomas hearings ending and stuff just kept happening. I’m not even talking about the Vince Foster or Ron Brown or Whitewater crap, but the Bimbo eruptions, all of the political capital spent on the AWB, on Hillarycare, ending Welfare as we know it, and then, finally, Mon-i-ca Lew-in-sky.

        Well, after all of the hearings and the impeachment and the vote and we thought we could *FINALLY* breathe… Clinton pardoned Marc Rich.

        I had a number of staunch Democratic friends who just… deflated at that. All the crap they put up with. All of the pride they had to swallow. All of the women they had to call creepy stalkers. And then Marc Rich got pardoned.

        I kept wondering what Dubya’s Marc Rich pardon was going to be. TARP and the bailouts, maybe… except I remembered arguing against Republicans that they were necessary lest the world end.

        Maybe the Republicans *NEVER* had their Marc Rich moment with Bush. Maybe that’s why they hate Obama so much.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

      I knew liberals were going to jump in, but–seriously–you all have your pre-written scripts based on your ideological biases.  Even if I fully agree with you on a personal level your scripts are wholly useless.  Heck, even our conservatives here are probably too liberal to give a useful answer, but at least there’s some chance they’ll have an insight that’s not filtered through a smug liberal lens.Report

      • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

        Because they buy the noise? They really do think he is a socialist hellbent on destroying “their” America?Report

        • James Hanley in reply to BSK says:


          I love you, but you’re no more a conservative than I am.Report

          • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

            Oh, I’m not pretending to be. I’m flagrantly violating your stipulation. I’m trying to postulate a possible reason. There are people who genuinely think that the entire deficit is on Obama, who believe chain emails about his refusal to face the flag during the pledge, who really think he is a socialist… If I believed those things, outrage wouldn’t be out of the question. I guess the bigger question are those chicken or egg. If I’m right, are people outraged because of those wrongheaded beliefs or are they predisposed to believe such myths because they were already putraged for reasons unknown?Report

      • Murali in reply to James Hanley says:

        Let me give it a shot.

        I think it boils down to bells and whistles. Obama didn’t really govern that differently from Bush the younger. Rather, Obama positioned himself cultrally as upper class, suave,east coast elite, educated, sophisticated. So, a lot of this is tribal. Obama’s persona is therefore pure tribal poison to the GOP base. The thing that pisses the GOP off is that not only is he pure tribal poison, he actually got elected. This rarely happens for the GOP. They’ve had cultural dominance for a while and ususally anyone of Obama’s tribal persuasion (not political) would be unelectable. Even Clinton, well, Clinton was Bubba. Hell, even Jimmy Carter had this to a certain extent. Even though he was a democrat, he could do the whole southern Aw Shucks ma’am thing. Obama can’t. And the thing is this: while Kerry and Gore were also upper east coast liberals, they were wooden and boring and lost. Obama is suave and inspirational and frickin’ charismatic.

        i.e. not only is he the tribal antithesis to conservatives, he won. That is unforgiveable. It directly threatens their cultural dominance.

        Consider a parallel with Bush. Bush’s persona i.e. as a kind of ordinary joe, not particularly bright (I’m saying that that is the persona he cultivated, not commenting on actual intelligence), religious, well meaning guy you would have a non-alcoholic beer with, lives on a farm etc affirms a certain kind of movement conservative cultural trope that is tribal poison to democrats.

        But note the dynamic. Democrats view the conservative’s cultural ideal so to speak in a contemptuous light (e.g. people will actually vote for this hick?) while conservatives are resentful of the democrat’s cultural ideal (e.g.upper east coast elites telling us what). This seems strange, and certainly there does seem to be a sense in which both the left and the right acknowledge that one of the cultures is in a superior dominant position and the other is inferior. And given the dynamic, both the left and the right think that it is conservative culture which is in the inferior position.

        This is odd because a lot of america is conservative (relative to europe). Where the resentment stems from is I think a perception that the cultural centres: the media and the universities are to the left of the mainstream. There is a real fear that conservative values will disappear because of the influence of the two insitutions.Report

        • greginak in reply to Murali says:

          FWIW Gore was a senator from Tennessee for  while. He went to Harvard, which i guess means he is permanently an east coast liberal elitist (unless you are a bush).Report

          • Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

            Bush adopted Texas in a way that Gore had trouble with for Tennessee. He was also better at plainspeak (and, indeed, was mocked for being unpolished). If I recall, Gore actually tried to adopt a bit of an accent during the right parts of the campaign, but it didn’t work out very well. Not unlike Mitt Romney walking around in perfectly-pressed blue jeans.

            Bush as anti-elite was not the easiest of sells, but the portrayal of him by his critics actually helped him some in that regard. His people were able to sideways say, “Some people look down on him the way that they look down on you.”

            (That tactic worked for Sarah Palin for a little while, but she blew it. Though it took longer, Bush lost that mojo, too. It only takes you so far.)Report

          • Murali in reply to greginak says:

            Bush managed to pull it off by not being a swotter. He got Cs remember?Report

      • LauraNo in reply to James Hanley says:

        But what do you expect? Some seriously conservative conservatives will fess up that their rage at President Obama is for some non-sordid reason? Or maybe they’ll admit they are mad that he isn’t the liberal Marxist Kenyan Muslim anti-capitalist they wished for?Report

      • Will H. in reply to James Hanley says:

        I don’t understand it either.
        Personally, I think Obama has been a fairly decent President.
        I have to wonder why the Right started seeing ‘socialism’ everywhere when they were ok with Bush 43’s ‘big government conservatism.’
        I really don’t get it.Report

    • Koz in reply to James Hanley says:

      I agree with you that mentality has been very damaging to the Right but the explanation for it isn’t that complicated if you know where to look.

      The Tea Party demographic wants acknowledgement from the rest of the GOP and the rest of America that they were right all along about Obama and liberalism. They would also very much like to be the center of gravity of American political culture.

      But what they insist on is to hold what I call the inertial frame of reference (the Original Sin of liberalism btw). Ie, you can’t do what you want until you engage me on terms that I understand. That’s to say the TPer’s won’t let the GOP or the American people accept or reject Obama for their own reasons until they come to grips one way or another with TP special pleading: the MSM media is unfair to conservatives, RINOs suck, Alinsky sucks, whatever.

      It’s a lib corruption that our team has unfortunately borrowed.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to James Hanley says:

      James – here’s my take: for over a decade, the GOP has been driven. Y the efficient media machine it created. That machine maximizes profits by getting high ratings, and the best way to get those 9-11 like ratings is to make sure that every issue have life and death, good vs evil stakes attached to it. It’s not enough to worry that an Obama low level appointment might not be the best person for that job; it has to be a story with grave punch: this person is a sleeper radical with an agenda to destroy the country for either a foreign power or a shadowy cabal. After year after year of hearing nothing but this reported as “news,” is it any wonder they hate Obama with such passion?Report