And now the show begins.
I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.
So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.
Today, The New York Times‘ Adam Nagourney reports that Mr. Frum has been “forced out” of his fellowship at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Mr. Frum said he was taken out to lunch by the president of the organization, Arthur C. Brooks. He said Mr. Brooks told him the institute valued a diversity of opinion, and welcomed that one of its scholars had become such a high-profile critic of Republican legislative leaders. Mr. Frum, who has been with the institute since 2003, said that he was asked if he would considering being associated with the institute on a nonsalaried basis.
Mr. Frum declined.
“Does it have anything to do with what would be the most obvious explanation of what happened?” he said in an interview after his lunch. “I don’t know. That’s not what they say.”
Asked if he believed that explanation, Mr. Frum responded, “I’m not going to say that they’re not telling the truth.”
Mr. Brooks, however, praised Frum as “an original thinker and friend to many at A.E.I.”. He also suggested that Frum chose to leave of his own free will, and had not been forced out. “We are pleased,” said Mr. Brooks, “to have welcomed him as a colleague for seven years, and his decision to leave in no way diminishes our respect for him.”