Frum holds himself out as laying the groundwork for a new Republican majority and building a conservatism that can win again. Newsweek’s promotion of Frum’s essay should be a dead giveaway that Frum is not exactly on the right track. Jay makes the point this way:
I have to say, Newsweek‘s solicitude for the health of conservatism and the Republican party is very, very touching. Don’t you find? They say [in the subhead to Frum’s essay], “The party of Buckley and Reagan is now bereft and dominated by the politics of Limbaugh.” Oh, boo hoo. And let me tell you something about Buckley and Reagan — taking the latter first.
The mainstream media, of which Newsweek is a good representative, hated Reagan. Hated him. Never had anything good to say about him, when he was alive and working. In fact, they said many of the same things about Reagan that they now say about Rush: that he was a boob, a conman, a mountebank, a know-nothing, etc.
And then Reagan got old and sick and everybody went “Awww.” I liked it better when they were hating him — it was more honest, in a way.
And I love what Newsweek says about Reagan versus “the politics of Limbaugh.” Rush’s politics are the politics of Reagan, in their essence. And Newsweek has never shown much friendliness toward these politics, to say the least.
Now, Bill Buckley: The Left hated him, too, for the most part. I myself grew up around world-class Buckley-haters. They couldn’t speak his name without spitting. It was not easy to buy a National Review in an Ann Arbor bookstore, let me tell you — I mean, for the grief you got from the cashier. (I wrote a piece about this once.) But, in Bill’s last years, many people found him cuddly. And they now try to use him as a club against us — against NR, the people he entrusted to carry on his work.
Here Jay repeats a point he made earlier in this fake controversy:
And let me say once more what I’ve said before: Bill Buckley loved Rush Limbaugh. Got a huge kick out of him, delighted in his success, thought he was performing a ton of good. Bill sought him out to host our anniversary dinners (which is to say, NR‘s). And I can just see Bill at a lunch with Rush, held not that long ago, really: grinning with pleasure at what he had to say.
Jay concludes: “Hate Rush if you want, but spare me the lamentations about Ronnie ‘n’ Bill, okay?”
PAUL adds: David Frum, as Nordlinger notes, describes his mission as “laying the groundwork for a new Republican majority and building a conservatism that can win again.” And David recognizes in his Newsweek piece that Limbaugh “plays an important role in our coalition, and of course he and his supporters have to be treated with respect.”
Yet David chooses to attack Limbaugh, not for his ideas, but for what he takes to be his personal and physical traits:
With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence.
David also accuses Limbaugh of bad faith, suggesting that Rush’s “rancorous” words to CPAC were intended to promote his interests at the expense of conservativism, on the theory that “the worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant.”
This sort of attack, even if it were directed at a less influential conservative than Limbaugh, is an odd way to go about building a winning conservative coalition.