The NATION's Mark Oppenheimer, David Frum, and Peter Brimelow
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Mark Oppenheimer has a thoughtful piece in The Nation magazine on my ('s) old friend David Frum , who apparently is being blamed by inside-the-Beltway Conservatism Inc. for deviating from the party line: The Prodigal Frum, July 30-August 6 issue. Oppenheimer quotes me:

Peter Brimelow is an English-born journalist who edits, a far-right anti-immigration website. He once worked in Canada and knew the Frum family, and he and David were later friends in New York City. When Brimelow’s wife died in 2004, Frum wrote a touching obituary. But as someone who always operates from first principles—in Brimelow’s case, an anti-immigration principle—he shares [American Conservative Editor Dan] McCarthy’s view of Frum as untrustworthy. “I think he is genuinely one of those people who doesn’t like to be on the fringe,” Brimelow says. “I’ve always found with David [that] he’s very good on small ideas—criticism of healthcare policy, that sort of thing. But I sometimes worry about the overarching ideas.”

Brimelow believes that Frum’s ability to think for himself has its limits. “He grew up in the heart of the Toronto media establishment, which is fundamentally left-wing,” Brimelow says. “He’s not used to being in opposition.” Ultimately he believes that Frum’s need to be liked by the right kind of people—those whom Frum might call the “couth conservatives”— will always determine his politics. In these Tea Party times, Frum has thus recoiled to the left.

(I've added links).

"Someone who always operates from first principles—in Brimelow's case, an anti-immigration principle"? (This is in contrast to Oppenheimer's take on Frum: "Frum says he is a pragmatist, focused on the issues of the moment rather than abstract ideological purity. 'I have never reasoned from first principles' he says.")

Wow, that's the nicest thing anyone's said about me for a long time!

My quibbles:

  • "Far-Right?" I keep saying that is a forum site, and we'll publish anyone who is critical of America's post-1965 immigration disaster. But it's true, alas, that very few progressives have the courage to resist peer-group pressure.
  • "Untrustworthy..." I don't think Frum is untrustworthy. He can be trusted not to die in the last ditch. It's all good.
  • "Frum's ability to think for himself has its limits." Actually, my reservation is not about Frum's willingness to think—he's much cleverer than Rich Lowry or Ramesh Ponnuru, which is why he's no longer at National Review—it's his willingness to say.

It has always puzzled me why Conservatism Inc. pundits find Frum so irritating, since they're fundamentally in the same game, whoring after the same housebroken conservative slot in the Main Stream Media. Maybe he's just better at it.

Oppenheimer says Frum is now "a good bit calmer about immigration." But I've been watching Frum for many years on this issue—John O'Sullivan and I maneuvered him into publishing his reservations about immigration in the pre-purge National Review back in 1996—and my impression is he's been distinctly more outspoken since his break with Conservatism Inc.

This won't do Frum any good at all on the Left. And it cannot be explained by opportunism.

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