Is David Frum a 'conservative martyr'?

The right-leaning American Enterprise Institute has parted ways with David Frum after his tough-love column to fellow conservatives. Coincidence?

David Frum
(Image credit: Corbis)

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.

"AEI hits David Frum where it hurts"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

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."

"AEI fires David Frum?"

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.

"David Frum and the closing of the conservative mind"

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.

"Frum Frum Frum Frum"

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.