"Why Rush is Right: The party of Buckley and Reagan is alive and well because of the politics of Limbaugh. A true conservative's rebuttal of Frum’s lament"
The cover story of the March 7, 2009 edition of Newsweek Magazine features a contentious article by David Frum entitled, “Why Rush is Wrong: The party of Buckley and Reagan is now bereft and dominated by the politics of Limbaugh. A conservative's lament.” Frum opens his dirge with an outburst over an outburst (Frum’s term for any of Levin’s opening monologues) by Conservative talk show host Mark Levin in which he castigates pseudo-Conservatives using Frum as an illustration.
After his initial outburst over Levin’s outburst, Frum launches into another outburst, this time to bombast Rush Limbaugh for his bombastism. Realizing that bombasting a bombastic Conservative icon like Rush Limbaugh in Newsweek might not carry as much weight with Conservatives as it would say, in the American Spectator or Human Events, Frum precedes his bombastation of Rush with his CV of Conservative “bona fides.” He cites a meal with Mark Levin, volunteering for the Reagan campaign, attending Republican conventions, presiding over his law school’s Federalist Society, working on the WSJ editorial page, writing Bush II speeches, serving on the Giuliani campaign, voting for McCain, supporting the Iraq war and supporting Clinton’s impeachment, to prove he’s earned the right to bombast Rush.
In his bombastation, Frum insinuates that Rush’s bombastism typifies the views of a small but vocal Conservo-Fascist fringe and this, he argues, disqualifies Rush to be anointed “Conservative Pontiff.” He then explains why Rush as Conservatism’s ex cathedra bombastador would accelerate the current exodus from Conservatism and spell the end of the movement as we know it. I thought Frum was against Conservatism “as we know it?”
So let me get this straight; Frum’s participation in a bunch of Conservative field experiences makes him a bona fide Conservative? Considering the level of intelligence those activities demand, Frum must be smart enough to know that joining a Conservative scavenger hunt doesn’t automatically make someone is a true scavenger, any more than participating in Conservative activities makes someone a true Conservative.
The activities Frum lists would be expected of a model Conservative, to be sure. But they are only an indication that someone might be a Conservative, not dispositive proof. I don’t mean to be profane, but for Buckley’s sake! Judas participated in discipleship activities with Jesus for 3.5 years, heard his teachings, ate with him, and witnessed his miracles, but in retrospect, few would argue that those activities by themselves made Judas a bona fide disciple of Jesus. Neither does doing Conservative activities make one a bona fide Conservative.
I can’t recall ever hearing Rush Limbaugh say he wants to be anointed “leader of the Republican Party,” as Frum asserts, except perhaps as a tongue-in-cheek gadget to illustrate the absurdity of his detractors’ bombasts and outbursts. To be honest, we true Conservatives don’t “need” Levin to outburst or Rush to bombast for us, we can do it ourselves. We love Mark and Rush, not because they teach us what to believe, but because they espouse principles we already believe.
Conservatism is simple, really. “In a nutshell,” true Conservatism is a set of absolutes that derive from a Judeo-Christian understanding of right and wrong and a devotion to the United States Constitution as the Framers intended it. As such, Conservatism and bombastic Government are mutually exclusive; Conservatism and abortion cannot coexist, and so on.
Granted, it’s not always easy to tell who is and who isn’t a true Conservative. Some people who look a lot like Conservatives might actually be of the Heinz 57 variety, Liberoconservamoderate mutts if you will. But true Conservatives are, by definition, pedigreed purebreds. You can’t be a Conservative and have a little bit of Liberal in you. You can’t be a Conservative on every issue save one, such as abortion, and still be a Conservative. “Purebred mutt” is an oxymoron.
A Republican is a Conservative is a Republican does not hold up; true Conservatism is party agnostic anyway. Which brings me to another question: Is Frum a true Conservative or not? Is he a purebred or a mutt? Has he relaxed his Conservative values, or is he just now “coming out.” The difference is subtle, but the answer could explain why so many people who claim to be true Conservatives never were.
As for Levin’s outbursts and Rush’s bombastism, they comfort me. Why? Because they provide cathartic relief by mirroring the anger that has been building in me as I watch the irresponsible, dangerous, idiotic, America-destroying things that, as Frum decorates him, our “soft-spoken,” “conciliatory,” “never angry,” “always invoking the recession and its victims,” “devoted husband and father,” President and his appointees are doing to dismantle America. Again, not to be profane, but for Reagan’s sake! just because he’s smiling doesn’t mean he’s not destroying the country!
It is unfortunate that Mark Levin’s outbursts and Rush Limbaugh’s bombastism are offensive to David Frum and other pseudo-Conservatives, but it wasn’t Limbaugh or Levin who said, “Our society finds truth too strong a medicine to digest undiluted. In its purest form, truth is not a polite tap on the shoulder; it is a howling reproach.” It was ABC Nightline anchor, Ted Koppel, a noted master of artful confrontation. The only thing I see in Frum’s lament is an adolescent over-sensitivity to frank logic and tough love.