On David Frum and the American Enterprise Institute

David Frum, Neoconservative speechwriter for our Neoconservative (and yes, decent human being) former president George W. Bush, was let go from the American Enterprise Institute today. He is one of the Conservatives the Right loves to hate, but I won’t indulge that author’s fantasies of pundit life in Washington (since there is no proof such events actually happen). Remember what I always reinforce on this here blog: I’m a Conservative ideologue, not a Republican partisan. So, when I say this, I say it with no malice: he didn’t quite belong at AEI anymore.

Bruce Bartlett touches on something interesting (oh and by the way would you look at the original title of that post based on the URL):

Since, he 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.

It saddened me to hear this. I have always hoped that my experience was unique. But now I see that I was just the first to suffer from a closing of the conservative mind. Rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed, and the conservative brain will slowly shrivel into dementia if it hasn’t already.

First of all, Bruce, AEI is an ideological think tank, which means that it aims to produce ideas that reinforce and promote Conservative thought. It’s not intolernace of dissent that informs the gag order on the AEI “scholars,” it’s that our president’s ideas are diametrically opposed to the goals of an institution like AEI. The goal for AEI’s “scholars” is to produce Conservative solutions for existing problems, not propose and promote Liberalism-lite.

More from the same article:

Sadly, there is no place for David and me to go. The donor community is only interested in financing organizations that parrot the party line, such as the one recently established by McCain economic adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin.

I also believe there needs to be a fine line between partisanship and ideology and that when that line blurs, Conservatives are on the losing end. Republicans were partisan in licensing the Liberal policies of George W. Bush, and look where that got us. So I am a little worried about for AEI when—assuming Bartlett’s anecdotes are true—donors become partisan, of course, the Institute has to make its choices based on the flow of money, which remains the lifeblood of any organization.

If Bartlett and Frum are smart at politics, they should try to introduce Conservatism to Democrats the way they introduced Liberalism to Republicans. They should try, but seeing how Republicans have fared following their advice, Democrats know well not to trust them. Yes, they have nowhere else to go.

One thought on “On David Frum and the American Enterprise Institute”

  1. “The goal for AEI’s “scholars” is to produce Conservative solutions for existing problems, not propose and promote Liberalism-lite.”

    I think one has to wonder what has to be the reason for Frum to say what he said. The other “scholars” could not have just though of a liberal-lite policy being good; why would they be hired to innovate and analyze policy with AEI?

    I think you want to quell dissent because you do want to brand an overall message in the long run. And like you said, the donors aren’t giving you money if you put any pro-Bama material out during the Healthcare reform debate.

    Donors won’t become partisan on the conservative/republican side.

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