Clive Crook on Frum and Moderates
Crook finds Frum’s thinking sound on the need for more moderate Republicans but fuzzy on healthcare:
He is simply inconsistent. On the one hand, Obamacare is a “vast new social welfare program.” On the other, “the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big…It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.” So was this a terrible plan that needed to be stopped? If so, the Republicans gave it all they had. Or was it a basically good plan that could stand some further improvement? If Frum thinks that–as I do–why would he have voted in the end to kill the reform?
I agree with Crook here that passing the bill could then be a platform for improvements to be added later. Frum is probably right that the Republicans could have achieved a more market friendly bill if they sought that during the fight. Does Frum think that the possibility of improving the bill after it passes in its current form is negligible or impossible? I suppose that would explain the inconsistency, but it wouldn’t be very persuasive.
In the Financial Times, Crook also makes some further important points about the need to moderate the GOP.
Meetings such as this are not campaign events aimed at voters at large. They are gatherings of activists, intent on maximum fervour. Even so, to call the Obama administration “socialist” is risible. If anything, “secular” makes even less sense. Do Republicans regard universal health insurance as a godless undertaking? And since when, even in the US, was “secular” an allowable term of abuse?
A moderate and intelligent opposition to the Democrats’ policies is badly needed. Apparently, nobody in the Republican party aims to provide it. Republican leaders seem intent on presenting the party’s angriest, most stupid and least tolerant face. Some leading Republicans who are moderate by temperament and conviction – John McCain, for instance – are being pushed to the right in primary election contests with more conservative opponents. Others, such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, are disowning their previously expressed views or just keeping their heads down.
Clive, it became “allowable” when the Republican Party became the party of the religious right instead of a party of conservatives. But, thank you, the question keeps needing to be asked.