[UPDATE: We've added in a reference to DC bureau chief David Corn's Sunday night dispatch, which highlights the incendiary remarks David Frum made about health care politics as Republicans' "Waterloo"—possibly the remarks that led to his ouster from the conservative fold.]
David Frum, the enigmatic young mandarin of the GOP who speechified many of George W. Bush's most manichaean lines, just dropped a bomb over on his blog: He's been dumped by his significant other of seven years, the right-wing American Enterprise Institute. And it doesn't sound like it was a pleasant breakup. Said Frum:
"I have been a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute since 2003. At lunch today, AEI President Arthur Brooks and I came to a termination of that relationship. Below is the text of my letter of resignation."
This will memorialize our conversation at lunch today. Effective immediately, my position as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute is terminated. I appreciate the consideration that delays my emptying of my office until after my return from travel next week. Premises will be vacated no later than April 9.
I have had many fruitful years at the American Enterprise Institute, and I do regret this abrupt and unexpected conclusion of our relationship.
Very truly yours,
So what gives? How could one of the best-known fellows at one of the best-known Beltway opinionators end up on the outs? Well, back in December, our own Kevin Drum said that Frum "has been estranged from the hard-right wing of the Republican Party for a while." And on Monday, the MoJo blog reported that Frum's recent activities had included a poll that exposed the general ignorance of Tea Partiers about US politics and taxes, which couldn't have sat well with his overseers at AEI. They do loathe them some health care reform and love them some irate patriots. But perhaps most damningly, as MoJo's DC bureau chief David Corn reported Sunday, was an incendiary Frum blog post describing health care as the GOP's Waterloo. Corn writes:
He noted that "it's a good bet that conservatives are over-optimistic about November" because "by then the economy will have improved and the immediate goodies in the healthcare bill will be reaching key voting blocs." Frum's j'accuse! blamed "conservatives and Republicans ourselves" for making a poor strategic decision: "We would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing...We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat." Republican legislators who wanted to cut a deal, he notes, were trapped and pinned down by "conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio."