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Understanding, Accepting, and Finally Celebrating The Conservative Chessboard

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Posted on September 12 2009 12:42 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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Ann Coulter zaps Naomi Wolf with one of her satirical bolts

Yesterday David Horowitz had a post in which he disagreed with David Frum about the importance of the contribution of figures like Glenn Beck to the conservative cause.

In a piece titled “GOP Surrenders to Beck’s Mob Rule” at New Majority, Frum took issue with Beck’s characterization of Cass Sunstein, the recently confirmed director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. (Apparently Frum knows Sunstein personally and points out quite legitimately that while one might take issue with some of Sunstein’s ideas we’re not dealing with another Van Jones here.)

Frum concludes:

We conservatives are submitting our movement to some of the most unscrupulous people in American life. This submission disgraces conservatism, discredits Republicans, and damages the country. It’s beyond time for conservatives who know better to join us at NewMajority in emancipating ourselves from leadership by the most stupid, the most cynical, and the most truthless.

Horowitz confronted Frum’s call to drum Beck-style conservatives out of the movement:

My real quarrel with Frum is that he denigrates Beck (“mob rule” indeed) and expresses the hope that Beck will soon be gone.  This is more than over the top on Frum’s part. It is a betrayal of the conservative cause (much as his unseemly attack on Limbaugh was, too). Without voices like Beck’s and Limbaugh’s — and Ann Coulter’s for that matter — the conservative cause and the cause of this country would be hugely damaged. On the other hand, if Frum’s website were to fold, nobody would notice. (And let me add this: the insinuation that Glenn Beck is one of the most unscrupulous people in  American life is an outrageous, even psychotic statement worthy of Ward Churchill or Cynthia McKinney — to put the characterization in its proper perspective. And to put it further in perspective I don’t recall an instance where David Frum ever defended a conservative with the ferocity with which he now defends Cass Sunstein.)

I sympathize with Frum’s concern about some of the sharper-edged, aggressive voices on the Right. Like Frum I tend to consider myself something of a centrist conservative and find myself bristling at some (though hardly all) of the more aggressive rhetoric of many voices on the Right. (Including occasionally some of my colleagues at NewsReal and FrontPage who I cherish and respect as dear friends and allies.)

But I still edit and strongly encourage NewsReal’s more intense bloggers and ultimately support Beck, Limbaugh, and especially Coulter. Now why is that? How could I support people who I disagree with sometimes?

Answer: Because every piece on the Conservative Chessboard has its role and its value.

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The ideological, political war in this country is basically a chess match between the Left and the Right. Beck and Frum are different pieces with different styles and abilities. Beck, Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, most of Fox News, and most of talk radio constitute our side’s Rooks. They are strong, fast, blunt, effective (at what they do) and aggressive. They are tremendously valuable pieces in the game.

Frum and many other quieter, intellectual conservatives or center-right writers are more akin to our side’s Bishops. They’re not quite as valuable and effective as the rooks but they still provide an elegance and sophistication that is necessary in the defense of America. They do things that the rooks cannot do.

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(And by now no one should be wondering where Coulter fits in. She exhibits both the aggressiveness of the rook and the intellectualism of the bishop. As I’ve stated before, she’s our queen — the most valuable piece on the board.)

The King of the Right is not an individual. It’s the American Idea — the one idea that all pieces are working together in their different ways to defend.

Now if we are to be successful in preventing the Left from checkmating our King then all the pieces must be working together and supporting one another — which does include correcting one another when one piece goes too far or another does not go far enough. The founders’ concept of checks and balances is one of the ideas that has held this country together. Keeping this mentality in mind will work for the Right too.

(And all this said, I still maintain that the Right should separate itself from the kooks — those that embrace conspiracist, racist, anti-Semitic, and downright ugly ideas.)

Naomi Wolf

Naomi Wolf

For an example of the different pieces working together just consider the Wolf-Chesler battle. Jamie Glazov, John Perazzo, Robert Spencer, and David Horowitz deliver their aggressive intellectual rebuttals. Coulter shoots off her satirical lightning bolts. And I send out friendly emails to leftist feminists encouraging them to enter the debate. (Including Wolf who has ignored my invitations for space at NewsReal to answer these rebuttals.) Now all that’s necessary is for one of the Right’s rooks to get in on the story and shoot it out into the talk radio or Fox News world.

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten with my chessboard analogy. Who we cast as the Knights and the Pawns is something I open up for discussion. (Sometimes I wonder if we Generation Y conservatives might be somewhat Knight-like in the way we move. We might not yet have the reach and strength of the Boomer and Gen-X rooks and bishops but we can jump over many of the ideological stereotypes and problems of those that came before us.)

I wonder what Frum would think. And, now that I’ve described Coulter/Beck/Limbaugh in this fashion, would he be so eager to throw away our queen and our rooks when the Left sure as hell isn’t going to discard any of their power players? Does he really want to disarm America as the radical assault increases in intensity?

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