WASHINGTON -- A major proposition that I advance in a book that will be published later this month, "After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery," is that there exists an odious subgroup of conservatives who, since the beginning of the conservative movement, have made their way to prominence in the mainstream media by a cheap act. They disparage, with great melodrama, other conservatives. Liberals love it -- and, for a while, love the disparagers. In the late 1990s, Arianna Huffington exploited this instrument of self-promotion brazenly. For several years, David Frum has been doing it haltingly, even timorously. However, in the past two weeks, he has been pulling a Huffington with unusual boldness.
First he smeared Sean Hannity. Then he reproached conservative opponents of the Democrats' health care monstrosity. Now he is claiming martyrdom at the hands of Arthur Brooks, the head of the American Enterprise Institute, which housed him as a resident fellow for seven years, reportedly at a salary of $100,000 a year. Brooks was willing to let him stay on at AEI but without a salary. Very theatrically Frum(p) quit, and the liberals pronounced him a great man. My thesis is again vindicated, and you will understand my satisfaction in reporting that in "Hangover," I have embalmed Frum(p) as a perfect example of the conservative hustler, manipulating liberal approval. I call his type the Reformed Conservatives, or RCs.
Of a sudden, Frum(p) is in a mad rush to become the Arianna Huffington of the present moment. He smears Hannity, snipes at opponents of Obamacare and calumniates AEI. What will be his next move in pulling an Arianna? Perhaps he will find a rich Texan to marry and fleece tens of millions of dollars so he can move to California and open a salon for Hollywood pinheads. Maybe he even will affect an unintelligible foreign accent -- Dahling .
Frum(p)'s attack on Hannity was particularly galling to me, for he sought legitimacy by dragging in my magazine, The American Spectator. He cited an unedited entry on our Web site's blog that was not only inadvertently published but also colossally inaccurate and misleading. Upon hearing of it, I immediately ordered it removed and replaced with the following notice:
"Information regarding Freedom Alliance (a Hannity charity smeared by Frum) that appeared earlier in this spot was inaccurate or misleading and has been removed. Any further mention of this material as having appeared in this post will either mention our disavowal or be deceiving to readers."
In his original smear of Hannity, Frum(p) had not even verified the charges against him. He simply republished the rubbish, claiming the charges to be "credible." Eventually, he discovered the bogosity of the charges and acknowledged his error, but he has yet to note that AmSpec repudiated them, too.
Since then, he has rebuked Republicans for opposing Obamacare, claiming that they failed to negotiate with Democrats. This attracted the approval of White House flack Robert Gibbs. It also attracted the attention of a lead Wall Street Journal editorial, which noted that Frum(p) "now makes his living as the media's go-to basher of fellow Republicans." In typical WSJ fashion, the editorial then proceeded to cite the Democrats' record of cutting the Republicans out of any possible bipartisan legislation.
Truth be known, Frum(p) is as much a hustler as Carlos Allen, the third gate-crasher at President Barack Obama's state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Allen, you will recall, is the proprietor of something called the Hush Galleria, "an exclusive and luxurious private social club whose members enjoy unparalleled access to elite movers and shakers." Maybe when Frum(p) moves to Hollywood and opens his salon, he will found a similar establishment. It could be called "Comfort Station," promising "an exclusive and luxurious private social club whose members enjoy unparalleled access to elite movers and shakers."
With a little luck, he might get Arianna to attend his grand opening after she helps him with his new continental accent -- Dahling.