I have a lot of respect for David Frum. Even if you don't agree with his ideas, he argues his viewpoint with logic and intelligence. And he has spent the last few years calling for a more reasonable approach to politics in a time where partisan emotions are very high. That's not an easy task.
Frum is a conservative and has supported the U.S. Republican Party for years. But his willingness in recent years to criticize what he sees as very troubling tendencies among many of today's Republicans has earned him the enmity of former friends (namely many conservatives), and the respect of people who were previously dismissive of him (namely many liberals). I imagine it's not fun to carry the title of "every liberal's favorite conservative," but thanks to his conviction that the Republican Party needs to take a new direction if it is to be successful and effective going forward, it would be fair to guess that at this moment Frum is more widely read by American progressives and moderates than by Americans who consider themselves conservative.
But here's the thing: I can't help but think that this honeymoon between Frum and liberals is about to end.
Here's why: Frum really likes Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is running to be the Republican nominee for President. I mean really likes him. Check out his recent appearance on the Agenda where he attacked a common liberal belief that Romney is running a particularly dishonest campaign that wildly distorts both his own record and the record of incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama:
Or check out how he enthuses in his blog over Romney's win in the Republican primary in New Hampshire:
How big did Romney win in New Hampshire? His margin of 16.5 points over Ron Paul is bigger than George H.W. Bush's over Bob Dole in 1988. It's bigger than Dwight Eisenhower's over Taft in 1952. It's even bigger than incumbent President George H.W. Bush in 1992 over pesky insurgent Pat Buchanan.
On our program, Frum said he thinks Romney is "one of the most ready-to-govern candidates that the United States has ever seen."
Now here's why that matters in terms of Frum's image among liberals: Romney is the odds-on-favourite to win the Republican nomination. Once he does that, he is going to launch an all-out war (because that's what all presidential candidates do) on the liberal's standard-bearer, Barack Obama. And even though Romney is considered by some to be a moderate Republican, once he is the nominee he will be the face of the Republican Party -- a party liberals may have never despised more than they do now.
For the past few years, liberals and Frum have been more or less on the same side when it comes to their problems with the Grand Old Party. But now they will be on different sides when it comes to what should be a very heated presidential campaign. I think all those pro-Romney posts we can expect by Frum in the coming months will get on liberals’ nerves more than a little bit.
So here's the good news, Mr. Frum: that whole liberal love affair that may have made you slightly uncomfortable? There's a good chance that affair will be on extended hiatus shortly. The bad news: I imagine most people who consider themselves conservative in America will still be mad at you.
But there's always a silver lining: You'll always be welcome on The Agenda.
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