March 9, 2010 Leave a comment
Conservative thinker and former Bush administration flunky David Frum gave an address at NC State earlier this evening. It was a weird experience, as for most of his speech, I found myself in a surprising amount of agreement with him. I kept on turning to Cobb and saying "this is freaking me out." When all was said and done, I realized why it was that I had so much agreement. Frum approaches public policy seriously. He believes in an honest accounting of costs and benefits to determine the best course of action. The sad thing is, though, you could probably only apply that statement to a tiny handful of Republican elites (as opposed to plenty of elite Democrats). Most Republican leaders these days have either outright disdain for thinking intelligently and seriously about policy or simply utter ignorance on the matter. They see policy as something to be symbolically distorted for electoral goals, not something that is fundamental to how our country functions.
Frum and I certainly have our disagreements, but I honestly feel that if you just put me and him in a room together, we could work out reasonable compromises composed of smart policy for the majority of America's problems. Of course we disagree on subjective interpretations of various costs and benefits as well as certain goals we should have as a society. For the most part (we'll leave out invading Iran), Frum struck me as a fellow traveler in the reality-based community (a specimen seemingly nearing extinction in the conservative world). What separates Frum the vast reactionary and willfully ignorant body of the modern Republican party, though, is his willingness to think seriously about policy. That's a sad, sad state of affairs.