Conservative commentator (and Bullpen columnist for The WEEK) David Frum lost his fellowship at the American Enterprise Institute think tank Thursday, four days after he published a widely cited column criticizing the GOP for not engaging with Democrats on health care reform. The right-leaning AEI says Frum's "Waterloo" column wasn't behind the ousting, but the timing has commentators guessing differently. Did Frum's bucking the party line cost him his job?
Frum's a victim, and beneficiary, of Obamacare: The AEI ousted Frum after a "mad overnight revolt" from donors angry about his party-line dissent on health care, says Matt Miller in The Washington Post. But Frum's not just the latest "poster boy for the Republican party’s incoherent tantrums." Ironically — since he's losing his AEI-sponsored health insurance — he's also Exhibit A on why we needed health care reform.
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The timing is (probably) coincidental: I'm taking the AEI at its word that the decision to push out Frum was "purely financial," says Allahpundit in Hot Air, and not prompted by his "irritating" and wrong-headed "Waterloo" column. If this were about AEI's ideological purity, and not its bottom line, it would have waited six months so the left wouldn't, inevitably, brand Frum a "conservative martyr."
You can bet this was a purge: Frum is undoubtedly a victim of the "rigid conformity" being enforced in conservative think tanks, says Bruce Bartlett at Capital Gains and Games. Frum told me months ago that the AEI ordered all its "scholars" to stay mute on ObamaCare, because too many of them "agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do." This "closing of the conservative mind" is bad for everyone.
Frum is no stranger to enforcing purity: If Frum really was "tossed from his fellowship position" for Obamacare heresy, says Matt Welch at Reason, he probably had it coming. Before he dedicated himself to the "modernization and renewal" of conservatism, he spent some time policing the "boundaries of acceptable coalitions and discourse" in the GOP — including calling out "paleoconservatives," by name, for "hating their country" because they didn't support the Iraq war.
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