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Frum in a BloggingHeads.tv post
|Born||David J. Frum
June 30, 1960
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Citizenship||Canada, United States|
|Education||Yale University (B.A./M.A.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)
|Years active||Since 1987|
|Known for||Coining the term "axis of evil"|
|Board member of||Republican Jewish Coalition|
|Parents||Barbara Frum and Murray Frum|
|Relatives||Linda Frum (sister)|
David J. Frum (//; born June 30, 1960) is a Canadian American journalist active in both the United States and Canadian political arenas. A former economic speechwriter for President George W. Bush, he is also the author of the first "insider" book about the Bush presidency. His editorial columns have appeared in a variety of Canadian and American magazines and newspapers, including the National Post and The Week. He is a featured writer for The Daily Beast and Newsweek, which he joined after a brief stint as the founder of FrumForum.com (formerly NewMajority.com), a political group blog, and serves on the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He is the son of Barbara Frum.
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Frum is the son of the late Barbara Frum, a well-known journalist and broadcaster, and Murray Frum, a dentist, who later became a real estate developer, philanthropist, and art collector. Frum's sister, Linda Frum, is a member of the Canadian Senate. Frum is married to writer Danielle Crittenden, the stepdaughter of former Toronto Sun editor Peter Worthington. The couple has three children. He is a distant cousin of economist Paul Krugman.
At age 14 Frum was a campaign volunteer for a New Democratic Party candidate. During the hour-long bus/subway/bus ride each way to and from the campaign office in western Toronto, he read a paperback edition of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago which his mother had given to him. "My campaign colleagues jeered at the book — and by the end of the campaign, any lingering interest I might have had in the political left had vanished like yesterday’s smoke."
He graduated from the University of Toronto Schools in 1978 where he was the School Captain. At Yale University he simultaneously earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in History, graduating in 1982. He was in Directed Studies, a type of "Great Books" curriculum. According to The American Conservative:
|“||As a columnist for the Yale Daily News in the early ’80s, he joined his liberal editors in a campaign to urge the university to seize control of the Yale Literary Magazine, at the time owned by a 25-year-old alumnus named Andrei Navrozov. According to the New York Times, Navrozov had acquired “the financially troubled magazine” in 1978 and “turned the modest undergraduate journal into a handsome journal with a national circulation.” Frum and his allies said they simply wanted the Lit returned to the undergraduates. But Navrozov detected a political subtext to their efforts, the existence of which the Times, in its coverage of the Lit controversy in 1981, confirmed. “Privately, these same people talk about Mr. Navrozov’s politics,” the newspaper reported, “his ‘raucous, antiliberal, new cold war’ politics. . . ."
A Yale near-contemporary, John Zmirak recalls, “Frum had made himself well-known among the amazingly intolerant leftist students of early 1980s Yale by loudly espousing Reaganite foreign and budgetary policy.” That notwithstanding, “there was a sense” that attacking the Lit “was a good career move,” an unnamed ally of Navrozov told Toronto Life in 2001, “a sense—and a resentment—that [Frum] was trying to establish himself as the acceptable conservative voice on campus—not with other conservatives, but with the powers that be.”
When I was in law school, I devised my own idiosyncratic solution to the problem of studying a topic I knew nothing about. I'd wander into the library stacks, head to the relevant section, and pluck a book at random. I'd flip to the footnotes, and write down the books that seemed to occur most often. Then I'd pull them off the shelves, read their footnotes, and look at those books. It usually took only 2 or 3 rounds of this exercise before I had a pretty fair idea of who were the leading authorities in the field. After reading 3 or 4 of those books, I usually had at least enough orientation in the subject to understand what the main questions at issue were — and to seek my own answers, always provisional, always subject to new understanding, always requiring new reading and new thinking.
After graduating from Harvard, Frum returned to Toronto as an associate editor of Saturday Night. He was an editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal from 1989 until 1992, and then a columnist for Forbes magazine in 1992-94. During his tenure at the Journal, Frum "accepted the freelance assignment that would make his name: a 1991 cover story for The American Spectator attacking Pat Buchanan." From 1994-2000 he was a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. During the 1990s he attended "three or four" Bilderberg Group meetings as a guest of Conrad Black.
Following the 2000 election of George W. Bush, Frum was appointed to a position within the White House. Frum would later write that when he was first offered the job by chief Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson,
|“||I believed I was unsuited to the job he was offering me. I had no connection to the Bush campaign or the Bush family. I had no experience in government and little of political campaigns. I had not written a speech for anyone other than myself. And I had been only a moderately enthusiastic supporter of George W. Bush … I strongly doubted he was the right man for the job.||”|
Still a Canadian citizen, he was one of the few foreign nationals working within the Bush White House. He filed for naturalization and took the oath of citizenship on September 11, 2007. He served as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Speechwriting from January 2001 to February 2002. He is credited with inventing the expression “axis of evil” which Bush introduced in his 2002 State of the Union address, since Frum's wife, Danielle Crittenden, bragged about it in e-mails that were picked up by the media. Frum shortly afterwards resigned his position. Both he and the White House denied any connection to the incident. He later explained that he had coined the term “axis of hatred”, referring to terrorist groups and extremist governments, in the first draft of the speech and the phrase was changed to “axis of evil.”
Frum strongly supported John Roberts, George W. Bush's nominee for Chief Justice of the United States. However, like many conservatives, he opposed the nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court of the United States, on the grounds that she was insufficiently qualified for the post, as well as insufficiently conservative.
Frum was a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, a neo-conservative think tank, from 2003 until March 25, 2010, when his paid position was terminated and he declined to accept the offer of a non-paying position. Media reports noted that the termination came three days after Frum's strongly worded criticism of the Republican strategy on health care reform, but Frum said that the AEI had not cited his criticism as the reason for his termination. It was also suggested that he was fired for criticizing Fox news, saying "Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox.”
On November 16, 2008, The New York Times reported that Frum would be leaving National Review where he was a contributing editor and ran an online blog. Frum announced to readers of his blog that he would be starting a new political website, NewMajority.com, describing it as "a group blog, featuring many different voices. Not all of them… conservatives or Republicans." He hoped the site would "create an online community that will be exciting and appealing to younger readers, a generation often repelled by today's mainstream conservatism." The website was launched on January 19, 2009. On October 31, 2009, its title was changed to FrumForum.com. In 2012 it was merged into The Daily Beast, where his blog continues.
Frum's first book, Dead Right, was released in 1994. It "expressed intense dissatisfaction with supply-siders, evangelicals, and nearly all Republican politicians." Frank Rich of the New York Times described it as "the smartest book written from the inside about the American conservative movement," William F. Buckley, Jr. found it "the most refreshing ideological experience in a generation," and Daniel McCarthy of The American Conservative called it "a crisply written indictment of everything its author disliked about conservatism in the early ’90s." He is also the author of What's Right (1996) and How We Got Here (2000), a history of the 1970s, which "framed the 1970s in the shadow of World War II and Vietnam, suggesting, 'The turmoil of the 1970s should be understood ... as the rebellion of an unmilitary people against institutions and laws formed by a century of war and the preparation for war.'" Michael Barone of U.S. News & World Report praised How We Got Here, noting that "more than any other book… it shows how we came to be the way we are." John Podhoretz described it as "compulsively readable" and a "commanding amalgam of history, sociology and polemic."
In January 2003 Frum released The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush, the first insider account of the Bush presidency. As the title suggests, Frum also discussed how the events of September 11, 2001 redefined the country and the President: "George W. Bush was hardly the obvious man for the job. But by a very strange fate, he turned out to be, of all unlikely things, the right man."
Frum's book An End to Evil was co-written with Richard Perle. It provided a defense of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and advocated regime change in Iran and Syria. It called for a tougher policy toward North Korea, and a tougher US stance against Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations in order to "win the war on terror" (from the book's subtitle).
In 2008 Frum published Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again, which garnered "lavish praise from his friends." Former Congressman David M. McIntosh called it "required reading for all GOP candidates."
Frum writes a weekly column for Canada's National Post newspaper and The Week news magazine. He was a commentator for American Public Media's "Marketplace" until his final appearance on October 12, 2011. His writings appear frequently in the New York Times, Italy's Il Foglio, and the Daily Telegraph.
Frum's first novel, Patriots, was published in April 2012.
In a Newsweek column, Frum described his political beliefs as follows:
I'm a conservative Republican, have been all my adult life. I volunteered for the Reagan campaign in 1980. I've attended every Republican convention since 1988. I was president of the Federalist Society chapter at my law school, worked on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal and wrote speeches for President Bush—not the "Read My Lips" Bush, the "Axis of Evil" Bush. I served on the Giuliani campaign in 2008 and voted for John McCain in November. I supported the Iraq War and (although I feel kind of silly about it in retrospect) the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Frum supported John McCain in the 2008 Presidential election, writing "I vote for John McCain". In an article for National Review Online which he posted days before the 2008 election, he gave ten reasons why he was going to vote for McCain instead of Barack Obama. Frum had previously been a vocal critic of Republican presidential candidate McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate on the ground that Palin was unqualified to assume the presidency. Speaking of Palin's performance during the campaign, Frum stated, "I think she has pretty thoroughly — and probably irretrievably — proven that she is not up to the job of being president of the United States." Nevertheless he ultimately stated his support for Palin, writing "But on Tuesday, I will trust that she can learn. She has governed a state - and ... it says something important that so many millions of people respond to her as somebody who incarnates their beliefs and values. At a time when the great American middle often seems to be falling further and further behind, there may be a special need for a national leader who represents and symbolizes that middle."
In 2009 Frum denounced the various anti-Obama conspiracy theories as “wild accusations and the paranoid delusions coming from the fever swamps”.
On August 14, 2009 on Bill Moyers Journal, Frum challenged certain Republican political tactics in opposing healthcare and other Democratic initiatives as "outrageous," "dangerous", and ineffective. As Congress prepared to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March 2010, Frum again criticized the Republican strategy of refusing to negotiate with President Obama and congressional Democrats on health care reform, saying that it had resulted in the Republicans' "most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s". Prior to making this statement, Frum had been associated with the American Enterprise Institute. He resigned from the AEI a few days later.
In June 2011, following the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York state, Frum's weekly column for CNN.com was titled "I was wrong about same-sex marriage." In it he described the evolution of his opinion from a "strong opponent" fourteen years prior; while he had feared that its introduction would cause "the American family [to] become radically more unstable," he now feels that "the case against same-sex marriage has been tested against reality. The case has not passed its test."
In his blog, Frum describes the Tea Party as “a movement of relatively older and relatively affluent Americans whose expectations have been disrupted by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. They are looking for an explanation of the catastrophe – and a villain to blame. They are finding it in the same place that [Michele] Bachmann and her co-religionists located it 30 years ago: a deeply hostile national government controlled by alien and suspect forces, with Barack Obama as their leader and symbol”. And he explains Bachman's political views, some of which he calls “paranoid”: “It emerges from a religious philosophy that rejects the federal government as an alien instrument of destruction, ripping apart a Christian society. Bachmann’s religiously grounded rejection of the American state finds a hearing with many more conventional conservatives radicalized by today’s hard economic times”.
In a September 2011 article, Tablet Magazine wrote: “as the Tea Party has come to dominate the GOP, Frum has been transformed in a remarkably short period of time from right-wing royalty to apostate”, and quoted him as saying: “There’s a style and a sensibility in the Republican Party right now that I find myself removed from, [but] you can do more good for the country by working for a better Republican Party than by leaving it to the extremists. What have they done to deserve that inheritance?”
Writing for New York magazine in November 2011, Frum described his reaction to fellow Republicans, who had distanced themselves from him, saying, "Some of my Republican friends ask if I’ve gone crazy. I say: Look in the mirror." He described the development of an "alternative reality" within which the party, conservative think-tanks, and right wing commentators operate from a set of false facts about the economy and nonexistent threats to their traditional base of supporters. He expressed concern over the inability of moderate Republicans to criticize their conservative brethren, contrasting this to the 1960s split between moderate Ripon Republicans and conservative Goldwater Republicans, when moderates such as Michigan governor George Romney were publicly critical of the conservatives.
Frum considers himself “a not especially observant Jew." He has written in his blog that he enjoys reading history, particularly histories of the American Civil War. He has also visited Civil War battlefields. Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln are among his favorite historical figures. Marcel Proust is his favorite novelist.
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