On Monday, October 17th, Howard Kurtz wrote about David Frum’s efforts to derail the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers in the Washington Post. Frum was “reluctant to be interviewed and uncomfortable with being portrayed as Harriet Miers’s most vocal critic.”
Two days later, his reluctance evaporated in Canada’s National Post, where Frum writes a regular column. Frum’s efforts earned him a page 1 thumbsucker of a story, with the headline From axis of evil to the evils of Harriet Miers: Frum heads bid to dump nominee. Here, Frum oozed self-confidence in his leadership role:
[Frum] claims more insight in Ms. Miers’ abilities than other conservatives. The two worked together at the White House in the first year of the Bush administration, before Ms. Miers became White House counsel. “I knew first-hand why, for all her virtues as a human being, she would be inadequate both ideologically and in terms of qualifications for this job,” said Mr. Frum.
Frum continues to have trouble keeping his story straight.
In yesterday’s National Post, he attempted to assess George Packer’s devastating new book, The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq. Here’s Frum’s take:
As fiercely critical as he is of the Bush administration, Packer was and remains a supporter of George Bush’s war. [italics added]
“I came to believe that those in positions of highest responsibility for Iraq showed a carelessness about human life that amounted to criminal negligence,” [Packer] writes. “Swaddled in abstract ideas, convinced of their own righteousness, incapable of self-criticism, indifferent to accountability, they turned a difficult undertaking into a needlessly deadly one. When things went wrong, they found other people to blame.”
Searing words. Now listen to what comes next: “The Iraq war was always winnable; it still is.”
Unfortunately, Frum appeared to stop reading. Packer’s next line? “For this very reason, the recklessness of its authors is all the harder to forgive.”
Packer, in other words, opposes George Bush’s war. Not the liberation of Iraq, not the overthrow of Saddam — but very specifically the war as it has been directed, and is being directed by George Bush and his allies. Of course Packer hopes, and believes, that the Iraq war is “winnable.” But not under Bush’s leadership. Not any more. And Frum is emphatically wrong about Packer drawing distinctions between Bush’s administration and Bush’s war, as he writes in this passage:
Bush’s war, like his administration, like his political campaigns, was run with his own absence of curiosity and self-criticism, his projection of absolute confidence, the fierce loyalty he bestowed and demanded.