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David Frum Refuses To Acknowledge The Whole Story About Glenn Beck and Ron Paul

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Posted on September 20 2009 10:00 am
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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Glenn Beck critic David Frum

Glenn Beck critic David Frum

So over at New Majority David Frum has a rebuttal to my post calling out his distortions on Glenn Beck. He accuses me of “not doing my homework” on Beck’s positions on Paul:

You’d think that review would be a matter of some urgency for David Horowitz. After all, Horowitz himself described Paul as “a crackpot, a conspiracy nut and a public menace…  an anti-Semite and an America-hater.”  To date, however, Horowitz has not found time to consider the record. Soon afterward, David Swindle appeared on David Horowitz’s Newsreal blog to deny that much of a record even existed.

Swindle linked to a Glenn Beck segment from Nov. 2007 in which Beck worried that some of Paul’s supporters might engage in domestic terrorism. On the basis of this link, Swindle concludes: “Beck, ‘Paul’s chief TV enthusiast and publicist,’ disagrees with Paul ‘vehemently’ on many issues. Who’s Frum kidding here?”

Swindle should have made time to view the new Beck show, the one on Fox, not CNN – the one on which David Horowitz is such a frequent guest. If Swindle had done this homework, here is some of what he would have found…

Frum then links to seven YouTube videos of Beck’s interviews with Paul. What’s really telling, though, is that Frum barely quotes from any of them. He has yet to produce any real damning Beck quotes from any of these exchanges. The closest he gets is when he points out that Beck said that some of Paul’s words were “interchangeable” with those of the founding fathers.

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This isn’t a controversial statement, though. I’ll be the first to agree with Beck. Paul’s worldview is ripped from the founding fathers.  Isolationism Non-interventionism as a foreign policy made a lot more sense in 1776 than it does in 2009. (Who knows how a hyper-connected world of atom bombs and airplanes would have influenced the founders’ foreign policy views?) Further, the economic ideas of the founding fathers were appropriate for the non-globalized economy of the 18th century. That doesn’t mean such ideas are practical in today’s world.

And on foreign policy at least Beck seems to get that. And I demonstrated this in my first post when I quoted from a January 2008 interview between Paul and Beck which I’ll now quote from again:

I’m probably the guy on talk radio, mainstream talk radio that will at least say I agree with you on a lot of things. I just disagree with you vehemently on others.

[Emphasis added with hopes that maybe it will sink in this time.]

Frum has read this quote — he even quotes me using the word “vehemently,” the key word from the exchange. But he refuses to seriously acknowledge it or reprint it at New Majority. This is intellectual dishonesty plain and simple. He has to know that Beck does not agree with Paul’s most dangerous ideas. Frum is hiding from his center-right readers this key fact in the discussion.

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It’s a very simple question Frum has been unwilling to engage so far: Is Beck really the same as Paul? Further, what is it about Paul that forces us to cast him out from the community of respectable conservatives? How does he fall on the side of “the kooks” which William F. Buckley Jr. worked all his life to marginalize?

Frum has yet to articulate these last two questions and I hope he will in this discussion — because it’s an issue vital to maintaining the health of conservatism.

We need to focus on Paul before we can get to Beck. What makes Paul a crackpot who we should cast out from Conservatism? Sure, he’s got some economic crackpot ideas about the Gold Standard and the Federal Reserve. But are those banishment worthy? No. They’re intellectual junk food, not intellectual poison. I don’t like them but I’m not going to say someone shouldn’t be allowed to be part of the movement because they advocate them.

Paul gets cast out because of his insane foreign policy views. He’s an absolute isolationist who wants us to cut off our support and alliance with Israel. His foreign policy is all but in line with the anti-war Left.

John Podhoretz fisked this issue of Paul as an anti-Semite for Commentary back in 2007 and isolated several reasons why people could regard Paul as an enemy of the Jews. (Though Podhoretz himself disagreed with the overall assessment.) So that’s the central problem with Paul.

Does Beck share it? Frum has yet to present compelling evidence. If he can find some then I’d be thrilled to see it.

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I’m sure all of us can find points with which we agree with Paul. (I tend to like what he has to say about the War on Drugs, for example.) Just because someone is ridiculously wrong on some subjects does not mean they’re wrong about everything. Just because you like what someone says about one subject it does not mean you endorse all of their views. This is Logic 101. And I know Frum is smart enough that he grasps it.

So what must Frum demonstrate if he wants Beck expelled from Conservatism? How do we define these things?

Here’s a simple formula for writing up the Conservatism Banishment Applications: you need to be able to summarize in one sentence why someone needs to be banished. These things really are not that complicated. Someone openly expresses and consistently defends a particular view which is intellectually poisonous. Examples:

1. They’re a racist.

2. They’re a conspiracy theorist who promotes New World Order, Birther, and Truther garbage.

3. They’re a theocrat who wants to replace the constitution with the Bible.

4. They’re an isolationist who want to disengage America with the world and leave Israel to be slaughtered by Islamofascist barbarians.

5. They’re a secessionist or a neo-Confederate.

I’m sure we can come up with other 1-sentence banishment requirements. However Frum has yet to write one for Beck. He can throw Youtube videos at us but he has yet to produce a Beck policy position — or specific key quote — which would warrant his expulsion from Conservatism. Merely overstepping on attacking Cass Sunstein and perhaps being sympathetic with a few of Ron Paul’s economic crackpot ideas is inadequate cause to label him “one of the most unscrupulous people in American life.”

Beck

So on the issue of Beck’s conservatism excommunication it’s time for Frum to really put up or shut up. His options:

1. He can actually present Beck’s allegedly poisonous positions. He can lay out the hard evidence for why Beck is a Right-wing Whack-Job. And then we can all examine it. Who knows? Maybe he’ll find something and soon we’ll have to throw Beck under the bus. We should go wherever the facts will take us.

2. He can retreat, acknowledge Beck as a legitimate conservative, and better focus New Majority’s critique not as an attempt to wipe Beck off the map, but to rein him in when he occasionally goes too far.

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