In the Arena

More on Frum

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This, from Bruce Bartlett, another independent-minded conservative, is fascinating:

Since, [Frum] is no longer affiliated with AEI, I feel free to say publicly something he told me in private a few months ago. He asked if I had noticed any comments by AEI “scholars” on the subject of health care reform. I said no and he said that was because they had been ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do.

Thre is a mania among Republicans right now. They thought they had Obama down for the count when Scott Brown won in Massachusetts. They didn’t. The President managed to pass the one bill they hated (and feared) the most. Their reaction has been to get even more extreme…drinking their own kool-aid. I just said on Hardball, “It’s getting pretty close to Jonestown.”

I have some experience with a party intent on committing suicide. The Democrats were profoundly self-destructive when it came to race and crime in the 1970s and 1980s. They nearly excommunicated Daniel Patrick Moynihan–one of my mentors–because he told the truth about the impact of out-of-wedlock births on the black family. Over time, Moynihan’s thesis was proved by sociology–and supported by prominent AFrican-American progressive scholars like William Julius Wilson–but he was never really welcomed back into the fold. And he didn’t really care. Because he knew he was right.

I consider David Frum a friend. I respect his thinking even when we disagree. I suspect that, like Pat Moynihan, he’ll be proven right over time and Republicans will come to regret that they didn’t try to negotiate a better health care bill (which they could have–especially when it came to limiting the explosion of Medicaid growth, the strengthening of the Exchange marketplaces and perhaps even tort reform). Just in terms of the negative impact on our democracy, it’s sad to see what’s happening over in the GOP.