The Frum Factor & the Nattering Nabob Named Noonan

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Oct 22, 2008 4:20 PM
The debate over the future of the conservative movement continues. 

Normally, I try not to respond to -- or even read -- blog comments, but I've made an exception because I am keenly interested in the debate over the future of the conservative movement. 

Regarding my previous post on the Tony Blankley column, there are a couple of important points that ought to be clarified -- as well as additional points to be made on the subject ...

1.  A common criticism of those who have spoken out against the conservative media elite's anti-Palin and pro-Obama sentiment is that we are merely partisan hacks.  The truth is that we are more appropriately, conservative hacks, inasmuch as we place a premium on philosophy over other things (party, style, intellect, speaking ability, etc.).  Most of the conservative bloggers and writers who are supporting Palin also opposed Bush when he strayed from conservatism (on the bailout, spending, Harriet Miers, etc.).  Yet for some reason, this point gets (conveniently) lost.

2.  One commenter defended David Frum as a true conservative, and implied that the only reason he is being criticized is that he didn't drink the Palin "Kool-Aid."  This, of course, is sophistry.  A quick study of Frum shows he is a Canadian Neoconservative (strike one) who started off in politics by volunteering for a socialist candidate (strike two).  Frum later worked as a speech writer for George W. Bush (strike three) and then Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign (okay, I like Rudy, but there is no way he is a mainstream conservative ... But it makes sense, because Frum is not pro-life.)

As an aside ... It strikes me as interesting that both Frum and Noonan are professional speech writers.  Is it possible they are over-valuing the ability to give a great speech???

... Several years ago, when I used to have regular breakfasts with former Reagan communications director Lyn Nofziger -- a truly great man -- I was surprised by his negative take on Noonan.  To be sure, Nofzinger (though a kind man at heart) was also grumpy.  Still, I was enamored with Noonan's writing at the time, and was surprised that he didn't share my admiration for the brilliant writer. 

Upon pressing him further, it turns out that Nofziger resented it when a speech writer made it known they wrote a particular speech or line.  In Nofziger's mind, it went against protocol for a speech writer to take credit for a speech, because once a candidate delivered a speech, it became his.  Noonan, of course, made it known that she was the wordsmith behind those great lines.  Clearly, it made her career -- but I wonder if it shines some insight into her character, as well ...