David Frum’s latest mea culpa (he writes one every quarter, as if to remind his new audience that he’s a martyr, thank you very much) regarding how he and his power-obsessed droogs turned conservatism into a kind of necromancy is more honest than Jonathan Chait ruler-slapping the palms of liberals who merely remind each other (and Chait) that neither in foreign nor domestic policy has Barack Hussein Obama been anything than a generalist of intermittent power: the intelligent man who can do many things and who would rather do them well — like, say, killing American citizens under suspicion of terrorism — than entrust them to Bush-league incompetents.
As patient and measured as an NPR host, Chait’s article contains a handful of credible counterarguments, but I can’t bother to parse them when he writes conclusions like this: “It is odd that Bill Clinton’s imagined role as ass-kicking economic savior has become the object of such extensive liberal fantasy.” Maybe in Chait’s Beltway world, bordered on one side by David Gregory and on the other by Cokie Roberts, the reanimation of the corpse of Clinton’s agenda sends tingles up the leg of Chris Matthews but not to the rest of us who hold the former president responsible for much of our fiduciary chaos. Must I really remind Chait again of Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the sucking up to Alan Greenspan, and so on? We might still be paying for our mistakes, but in a DC culture in which malfeasance isn’t punished — it’s given an encouraging pat on the bum and promoted to work for another administration — we’ll never know. That’s partly why Occupy Wall Street commands some measure of the public imagination. We got Diane Sawyer to lead a broadcast about income inequality!
Part of my morning routine consists of reading FrumForum after digesting the last several hours’ worth of NRO-Corner posts. Reading Frum since he left Bush’s pod people White House is like gratefully inhaling rubbing alcohol after a bout of nausea. Still, anyone who cares about language and principle can’t defend books with titles like this and this.