David Frum Tweets: ‘Horrible Possibility: If The Geeks Are Right About Ohio, Might They Also Be Right About Climate?’

The best conservative tweet of election night may belong to David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush:

Political junkies may know that the right-wing denial of data extended to the countless pre-election polls showing the President stubbornly retaining a lead in the decisive swing state of Ohio.

Heck, there’s even a website,, that “fixed” the polls conservatives didn’t like by using a different — which is to say, more Republican — electorate model. Think of it as a WattsUpWithThatPoll — a website where cherry-picking and phony analysis allowed readers to exist in a parallel universe to our own, in this case one where the voting public demographically resembled the electorate of the 1980s.

Reality intruded last night, as it inevitably does when one ignores basic arithmetic, statistical analysis, and inexorable demographic trends — or basic physics, for that matter.

Frum is a card-carrying conservative — he coined the phrase “axis of evil.” And his ironic tweet foreshadows an even more painful reality that will eventually intrude on those currently duped by the professional climate science deniers. But instead of this being “Nate Silver was right about Ohio” it’s gonna be “Al Gore was right about climate change.”

Unfortunately, climate denial is far more consequential than polling denial. And as amusing as Frum’s tweet is, it is of a kind with David Brooks’ line in a 2005 piece on conservative intellectual exhaustion, “Running Out of Steam”:

Global warming is real (conservatives secretly know this).

The tragedy is that seven years later, that remains the best-kept secret in DC.

25 Responses to David Frum Tweets: ‘Horrible Possibility: If The Geeks Are Right About Ohio, Might They Also Be Right About Climate?’

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    I agree that many and maybe most conservatives know not only that dangerous global warming is real, but that humans are causing it.

    Let’s give them a teensy bit of slack here. As Devo would put it, they are only following their biological imperatives. It is not a departure from the past, but a continuation of it. We are all Easter Islanders.

    Conservatives are more primal than we are, and maybe more authentic. While we are saving milk cartons and driving teeny cars, they are living large, and have annuities and young squeezes, too. Conservatives tend to be dumber than us, if one is looking at SAT scores and scientific literacy. But are they?

    Maybe not. And whether they are evil and we are not is a legitimate argument, but if one assumes that humans are stupid and doomed- as Revkin and many others seem to imply- than it doesn’t matter. Getting theirs, as they are so obsessed with doing, is all there is.

    Their stupidity is evidenced by the fact that they are taking themselves down as well as the rest of us. The criminal trials of Koch, Boyce, McConnell etc should therefore be conducted in a calm and rational manner. They are the architects of an unprecedented holocaust. This event might be unique in the universe, for all we know. That’s why we have to stop them, and mete out punishment as the evidence rolls in. Nothing personal, baby.

  2. Chris says:

    So is he saying that it’s a horrible possibility that conservatives might be wrong twice, or that the Earth is screwed?

  3. Paul Magnus says:

    Or that the democrats are right about GW and the republicans are wrong.

  4. Paul Klinkman says:

    Conservative isn’t faux conservative.

    Faux conservative is when your only driving ethical principle is to rob the public trust, to get gigabucks of free swag from the government and to freely dump your pollution products into the public’s air and water.

    Conservative is when you take real morals seriously, often because you follow God. As part of a faith community you conserve your country and world for everyone’s children and their grandchildren. You conserve the idea of a truly free market where anyone can rise and succeed, without massive government welfare and regulations to bribing cheaters being the determining market factor.

  5. Telzey Amberdon says:

    As long as conservatives refuse to honor the separation between church and state, I want no part of them.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Is it possible that there exists somewhere, between Heaven and Earth, a creature whose opinions are less significant than David Frum?

  7. Ozonator says:

    The only thing they “work” to conserve is the plantation system which includes breeding humans, life and death control over all species, and unlimited drug and gun abuse. Conservatives perverted “conservation” much like “pro-life”, “scientific method”, and “talent on loan from God”.

  8. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I didn’t know which little human mind conjured up that uniquely inspired fundamentalist ‘axis of evil’. Obviously he wasn’t on his game last night. However, the sentiment says it all and you can see the cracks appearing, ME

  9. SecularAnimist says:

    Joe quoted David Brooks: “Global warming is real (conservatives secretly know this).”

    More to the point, the CEOs of the fossil fuel corporations have known that global warming is real for 40 years. And their response has been to fund a campaign of deceit and denial, to bribe fake “conservative” politicians to suppress the truth, and to use their wealth and power to obstruct and delay the development of non-carbon energy sources — all the while, KNOWING that by doing so they were inflicting immeasurable suffering and harm on future generations.

    They are culpable. They need to be held accountable.

  10. Mark E says:

    Reading the reply comments my thought is….. Lighten up people. Can’t ya’ll see Frum is *expressing concern*?? As Gramma always said; better late than dying and better dying than never.

    When a former enemy takes up even a small part of your burden the smart player immediately buries the hatchet to see how far they can walk together.

    Suppose humor is the key to letting secret GOP climate concern come out of the denialist closet?

    Good for Frum and (still laughing).

  11. Andy Hultgren says:

    Well said Mark E. I could not agree more.

    Holding blame over conservatives who are reaching out in some small way does nothing productive. The most it accomplishes is burning a potential bridge before it could even be built.

    If we are serious about dealing with climate change then the blame game, for itself, is pointless.

    Of course I think Obama needs to negotiate hardball with R’s in Congress as that’s how they have chosen to play. But when conservative media commentators acknowledge the possibility that they have been wrong, that’s a pretty big step and should be met with encouragement, not rebuffed with blame.

    My 2 cents.

  12. Ah, the appeal of the idea that there are “reasonable” conservatives. How often did we count on Richard Lugar or Olympia Snowe only to have them NEVER come through when the votes were cast? Republicanism is a tribal belief rather than one of ideas. The first and last loyalty is to the tribe.

  13. SecularAnimist says:

    Jeffrey Davis wrote: “Republicanism is a tribal belief rather than one of ideas. The first and last loyalty is to the tribe.”

    Republicanism is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, and its first and last loyalty is to a handful of ruthless, rapacious, reactionary fossil fuel oligarchs who sign the checks for tens of millions of dollars that bankroll the Tea Party and Republican political campaigns.

    All the “tribal belief” stuff is just fodder for the Ditto-Head base, to get the to the polls.

  14. jimmy cracks capricorn says:

    I forgot how political ecology and atmospheric makeup could be. Let’s put it on the 2016 ballot?

  15. This is classic, and directly related to this topic:—america-takes-a-shower—karl-rove-s-math

    The key takeaway quote: “Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?”

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Perhaps it may be argued that they are not evil, but their actions certainly are. A distinction without a difference. If they win, we all perish.

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    From my experience you are close to the mark. Rightists are innately destructive, and not to be trusted very far, if at all. However, Andy and Mark are correct, too, and on a more fundamental level. It is essential to act in the most moral, principled and consistent fashion, even if it costs us in the short and medium term. Some Rightists can throw off their moral disease, and they must be encouraged to do so. There is more rejoicing over the prodigal etc, we must follow the Nazarene and forgive (if not forget) and defection will erode the Rightwing death-machine.

  18. Addicted says:

    I completely disagree with the evil framework. At least at the vast populace level. (Agreed the leaders, who are just manipulating the flock, are indeed evil).

    The reality is that the conservative right in the US has created an extremely pervasive alternate reality. Assuming you we’re born into, or led to, this alternate reality, it isn’t hard to recognize how their actions, which indeed history books will call evil, were obvious, rational, and maybe even the moral thing to do.

    When you factor in that conservatives are known to have more authoritarian personalities (they have a lot of faith in their “leaders” and are uncomfortable with questioning them) it becomes even harder for them to escape the alternate universe around them.

  19. Timeslayer says:

    Frum’s tweet was “ironic”? How so?


  20. Chris Winter says:

    I read it as ironic: He’s saying that doctrinaire conservatives should, to paraphrase the old song, “use their mentality, wake up to reality” — horrible though the prospect might be.

  21. Mike Roddy says:

    Thanks for that, Jonathan, I laughed my ass off.

    Unfortunately, we’ve kissed off the Republicans before. Anyone remember 1964, 1996, or 2008? Democrats celebrate too soon. Republicans are like alcoholic relatives who just keep showing up, demanding attention. Eventually, we give it to them, and they screw us again.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    A typo. ‘Moronic’ was intended.

  23. Gary Moore says:

    Exactly. This is consistent with other things Frum has said and written in recent years to express frustration with the growing irrationality of the Republican party (and his characterization in this article seems inexcusably incomplete). At least lately, he has sounded like someone who preferred science and pragmatism to ideology. He does not like the Tea Party.

  24. Merrelyn Emery says:

    C’mon Mike, celebrate a little, it can only do you good and you never know, you may be riding a gathering wave of change over there, ME

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I think a comparison with zombie movies is more apt. They keep coming, there being an inexhaustible supply of undead.