I am Canadian, as is Frum. When I moved to the US I noticed and paid attention to him for that reason. His mother Barbara is famous in Canada for, some say, being the best radio and TV interviewer that Canada has ever produced. I was a fan of hers. I wasn’t a fan of David.
When I lived in Canada and heard Frum there I found him to be among the “very far right” in the Canadian spectrum of political opinion. But in the US, he is the most reasonable voice I have heard from someone of his generation who would call themselves “conservative”. I don’t know if Chris is aware of this, but when Frum brought up “the real consequences” for conservatives if they’re on “the wrong side” in internal debate, it is fresh in his mind that the AEI “think tank” dumped him for that. I respect him. It is difficult to put yourself forward attempting to define a political position in a movement, even as almost all others competing in the same space reject you.
I left a comment on Frum’s FrumForum page. http://www.frumforum.com/can-conservatives-and-scientists-get-along-2#comment-323545 One thing I brought out there was that the population problem is very much still with us. Climate change is just a big problem caused by the wastes of too large of population. Although few might be able to see exactly how, the projected 9 or 10 billion population might be sustainable, but certainly not as long as “conservatives” adamantly insist we ignore whatever warning signs come in, such as the accumulating GHG and the beginnings of climate change our scientists observe, as the wastes of that number of people affect the life support systems of the planet.
I wondered at the way Frum mostly avoided comment on climate change even as Chris Mooney described it in this way: “If there was one number one topic where we have a complete divide over reality between the two parties, and I would go further as to say one of the parties is right, its global warming”. Although Chris did address that remark to Silber, Frum’s silence on climate as the interview went on became deafening for me. I visited FrumForum and searched there for something current, written by Frum, on climate. I found nothing. If I am to go by what Frum said to Chris Mooney during this discussion, I can’t distinguish between Frum’s position on climate and anyone spouting the typical denier talking points he brought up, for instance, Lord Monckton.
Here’s what I mean. Frum actually tried to say conservatives have played a traditional role, performing the “service” to the “world of ideas”, by putting a “check on liberal enthusiasms”. After declaring that one of those liberal enthusiasms was an attempt to do something about population growth back in the 1960s and attributing to conservative skepticism the fact that little was done and declaring that doing very little has proven to be the wisest course of action because things worked out in the end, Frum suggested that conservatives could continue on with this “traditional service” to the “world of ideas”. But then all he did was spout climate science denier talking points.
These were: “do we KNOW that its going to be so bad, do we KNOW that its effects are going to be so large, are we QUITE SURE some of its effects won’t be benign”.
Then he apparently declared himself to be a “conservative scientific intellectual”. And that was it, the end of Frum saying anything about climate change during the entire discussion. He used to talk policy. He once advocated that Republicans ought to stake out a climate position by arguing the merits of a carbon tax as opposed to the Democratic Party’s “cap and trade” policy. That’s why I searched his forum for something he’s written recently. It seems he’s backing off any position on climate other than there should be a conservative position as opposed to denial, but since all he said here amounted to denial, I don’t see that his position makes any sense at all. Perhaps courage to oppose what happens to be a “conservative orthodoxy” du jour only goes so far.
I can’t imagine how Frum expects us to take him seriously on this “service” to “the world of ideas” by stopping “liberal enthusiasms” thing. This is the man who coined the phrase “Axis of Evil” for Bush as they told Americans the best way to strike back at Al Qaeda was to invade Iraq. Might we call that the “conservative enthusiasm” that believed they could thus produce a lower price for oil?
I wondered at Frum when he waxed enthusiastic about what attracted him to the “conservative” movement in the first place. Had I been part of the conversation, when Frum brought up the “shocking” proposed headline Peters was joking he’d run one day around 1975, i.e. “Criminals belong in prison” saying that one joke “sums up the mood of the time” for his generation of Republicans, I would have asked him why there are so many in that movement today who want to put our best scientists in jail. How could anyone today have anything like the enthusiasm for conservative ideas the younger Frum had?
When he brought up Thatcher’s quote: “the facts of life are conservative”. I thought no, its “conservatives deny the facts of life”. Today’s conservatives are so far from Frum’s “we were not afraid of the facts” they have created what Frum calls “this terrible industry” which Frum could not bring himself to call by its rightful name, of perpetrating lies. The euphemisms he used, “pretend information, pseudo facts, and knowledge subtraction” are just ways he tries to shield himself, even as he critiques, from what the movement that so excited him in his youth does and has become.
I think its important to have discussion such as what you did on this show. People have to start talking to each other in this country no matter what side of the political divide they are on.