Coda: Frum v. Horowitz


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David Frum has a parting shot for our me in our debate. Before responding let me say that it is gratifying that we could go these three rounds without acrimony, and with a sense that we could engage these issues again down the line in a fraternal manner. That speaks to the health of the conservative coalition, and I am pleased about that. And it also pleases me that we can end on a note of agreement. Sort of.

Here’s what David wrote along with my reply:

“The Plan

October 2nd, 2009 at 8:25 am by David Frum

Click here for the final round in my debate with David Horowitz that started with David’s critique of my posts on Glenn Beck and Cass Sunstein.

In the debate, David offers as explicit and considered a defense as I’ve heard anywhere of the political strategy followed by conservatives this year. I offer my countervailing vision, along with some evidence for doubting that the approach championed by Horowitz will work.

One final comment in reply to David Horowitz’s third-round presentation. He writes:

“I think Republicans generally want a fighter. You can be a centrist and a fighter. Why not? But in the first nine months of the Obama Administration, it is Palin who has set the standard in facing down the Left.

You say that angry protests did not work for the Left during the 60s. Are you forgetting that our angry protests were aimed at the Democrats and that by destroying the Democrats we elected Reagan governor of California, and Nixon president in 1968? Psychotic anger worked for the Democrats in 2006 and 2008 and brought them victories in Congress and the White House. What can you be thinking?”

For those conservatives who want to import into our politics the style and attitudes of the 1960s, from the demonstrations to the promiscuous flinging of the accusations of “fascist” and “Hitlerite,” please note David’s description of its main accomplishment:

The 1960s Left succeeded in destroying the party most closely associated with it – and electing instead its fiercest opponents.

Good plan!”

My response:

David thinks the 60s New Left is a bad model for conservatives. I agree. But in doing so he misunderstands the New Left. There is no faction – no significant faction – of the Republican Party that is like the New Left. The New Left wanted the Democrats to lose, not because they preferred Republicans or thought Republicans were the lesser of two evils, but because New Leftists were in their own minds revolutionaries – destroyers – and they wanted to bring the whole system down. The strategy was called “the worse the better” and the idea was that the sooner the country becomes fascist – the sooner the mask of democracy is stripped away and the people see that it masks an oppressive, hierarchical tyranny – the sooner the revolution will come. Therefore the worse the better.

There is no faction of the Republican Party like this. And consequently David’s parting shot is off the mark. No matter. I’m sure we’ll return to this again.

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