I recently lauded David Frum for his latest assessment on the state of the GOP, but I think he made a big booboo in a column for the Canadian newspaper, the National Journal. Frum said that he thought the two best GOP presidential candidates were either former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman or former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He then ends the article with this:
The Washington, D.C., primary is set for April 3. I’ll probably cast a vote that day for Huntsman, if only to show support for a brave and independent-minded candidate — and in hope that a strong Huntsman showing will be interpreted as a call for a more modern and inclusive Republican party.
If Mitt Romney emerges as the ultimate nominee, I’ll place my hope that the Romney who enters the Oval Office will be the innovative, solutions-oriented Romney 1.0 — and not the placate-every-GOP-interest-group Romney 3.0 we’ve seen on the 2011 campaign trail.
Any other nominee would gravely test my commitment to the political party I’ve supported since I entered the United States as a college student in the fall of 1978.
There are so many things wrong with this passage. First and foremost it tends to contradict what he wrote in his New Yorker piece, about fighting for the future of the party. The closing words of that essay was centered on hope and on a cause worth fighting for. This passage sounds like a whiny kid that will jump if he doesn’t get his way.
The other problem is that it paints moderates as hypocrites. We ask conservatives to be more tolerant and accepting, but if things don’t go our way, well we take our blocks and go home. I’m not saying that if say, Rick Perry got the nod, that moderates should just supporting him, but there are ways of not agreeing. If your goal is to make the party more moderate and to persuade others to see your point, you don’t do it by proclaiming you aren’t going to support the party if candidate X is chosen.
Finally, issuing threats aren’t going to get you very far. There are a lot of folks on the right who are okay with Frum leaving the GOP and really don’t care. Moderates tend to think that if we threaten we will leave the party, that someone somewhere will freak out and plead for us to come back. Newsflash: no one cares.
Like Frum, I support both candidates and I agree with his frustration concerning the other presidential candidates. But this isn’t the way to do it. I think this column pretty much undid all the smart commentary from his New Yorker article.