Former Bush speechwriter David Frum — who famously authored the phrase “axis of evil” — has been unceremoniously forced out from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a right wing, neoconservative think tank. Frum’s dismissal resulted from criticism he directed at the Republican Party for staking a failed strategic posture of “no compromise” on health care. As a result, “it’s Waterloo all right: ours,” Frum wrote to his fellow conservatives.
Right-wing donors of AEI began raising concerns about Frum. So, AEI president Arthur Brooks took Frum out to lunch this week to tell him that, while he valued “a diversity of opinion,” he wanted to downgrade Frum to a nonsalaried position. Frum declined the offer and posted a letter of resignation on his personal website.
Bruce Bartlett, a former economic adviser to President Bush, suffered a similar fate as Frum. After leaving the Bush White House, Bartlett authored a book titled Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy. That book led to his dismissal in 2005 as a senior fellow at a conservative Texas-based think tank called the National Center for Policy Analysis
On his personal blog, Bartlett referred to Frum’s departure from AEI as “the closing of the conservative mind.” He elaborated further this morning on C-Span’s Washington Journal:
BARTLETT: [W]hat’s really going on here is that adherence to conservative principles has been – is out the window now. All that matters now is absolute subservient adherence to the Republican Party line of the day. And that’s what got David into trouble. He was critical, not even of Republican principles, but of Republican tactics on the health care debate. And now, even that is considered, you know, you can’t say that or you lose your job.
On his blog today, Bartlett rips AEI: “The organization has lost an enormous amount of credibility by firing him and hiring Republican political hacks like Marc Thiessen. That’s a statement I will never need to retract.”
The Wall Street Journal criticized Frum earlier this week: “Mr. Frum now makes his living as the media’s go-to basher of fellow Republicans, which is a stock Beltway role. But he’s peddling bad revisionist history that would have been even worse politics.”