REVIEWSrnAnd What Isn’t…rnby Paul GottfriedrnWhat’s Right: The New ConservativernMajority and the Remakingrnof Americarnhy David FrumrnNew York Basic Books;rn208 pp., $23.00rnIn this collection of his occasional papers,rnDavid Frum once again demonstratesrnhis worthiness to the harmlessrnpersuasion. Having agonized over hisrnuneven prose, I finally concluded thatrnFrum’s intellectual weaknesses are hisrnpractical strengths. His writing never offendsrnanyone in the political mainstream,rnor upon whom his career as arnpublicist may depend. It is entirely consistentrnwith his comments delivered tornTim Russert during an interview onrnCNN on July 13, when Frum urged Republicansrnto conduct an “exciting” campaignrnwith “exciting” personalities likernCheney, Gramm, and Kemp. But he alsornwarned Dole, with the smiling approvalrnof his interviewer, to keep the “extremist”rnPat Buchanan from capturingrnattention at the Republican convention.rnFrum’s notion of “exciting” would translaternas “don’t make waves!” or “let thern— LIBERAL ARTS —rnVICTIMS, UNITE!rnThe Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribunernreported on October 17 that” therncity council of Albuquerque, NewrnMexico, was preparing to vote on arnnew “hate crimes” bill that wouldrntreat crimes motivated by “hate” asrnmore serious than identical crimesrnwhich have a different motive. Introducedrnby City Councilor Sam Bregman,rnthe bill has drawn protests fromrnthe Christian Coalition of New Mexico.rnBregman insists that “We are notrnsetting up a protected class; we arernpunishing people for improper conduct.rn. . . Everybody can be a victimrnunder this bill.”rnpolitical class have its way!” There isrnnothing he says about contemporary politics,rnnor about anyone whose spear hernseems to be carrying, capable of generatingrnexcitement. That is precisely whatrncommends him to the liberal-neoconservativernnomenclatura.rnAs in his earlier publication DeadrnRight, Frum in this book makes occasionalrnlibertarian noises. He wishes torncut taxes, deregulate some things, eliminaternAid to Dependent Children, andrncreate a better climate for business investment.rnIn a flight of hyperbole, hernrefers to the Kemp-Roth cut in marginalrntax rates as the “most important singlernpiece of conservative domestic legislationrnof the 1970’s.” Since that legislationrnresulted neither in stopping federal overreachrnnor in reversing the growth of taxes,rnit is hard to see it as a conservativernlandmark. Frum also exaggerates the effectsrnof the “tax cuts” introduced duringrnthe Reagan administration. By focusingrnon (and exaggerating) the slight reductionrnin middle-class income tax rates, hernignores the hike in payroll deductionsrnthat took place at the same time, as happenedrnwith Social Security.rnMost of the silliness in this collectionrnof essays seems packed into the sectionrnon Pat Buchanan, which appears to bernrecycled from Dead Right and fromrnFrum’s earlier polemic against Buchananrnpublished in the American Spectator.rnThis litany of denunciation is followed,rnin the manner of the format of DeadrnRight, by a saccharine tribute to thernheroic Jack Kemp. Though Kemp couldrnnot cut the mustard as a presidential candidate,rnFrum is still impressed by thisrn”captain with the mighty heart.” Mernstresses the fight “that exemplified allrnthat is best in him,” meaning Kemp’srnand Bill Bennett’s hght against Propositionrn187. Though a libertarian, Frumrnhas no scruples about fighting to preservernsocial services for those illegally inrnthe United States. Like Bennett andrnKemp, he apparently considers those servicesrnto be a “human right.” He also listsrnas an achievement of Kemp’s “importantrnconservative legislation” a “50 percentrnincrease in personal income tax collection”rnby 1981. If that was indeed therncase, Kemp-Roth was a disguised godsendrnfor the managerial state.rnFrum does note the ineffectiveness ofrnKemp and Reagan in changing therncourses of American government.rnWhile repeatedly praising both men, hernalso indicates that neither had any lastingrnimpact on the American welfarernstate. Frum perceives no contradictionrnin what he takes to be the twin missionsrnof American conservatism, “smaller governmentrnand global leadership.” Unfortunately,rnthere is no way that one canrnhave both, as the history of most empiresrnreveals. And the American case, asrnvoluminously demonstrated by RobertrnHiggs, confirms this generalization:rnevery major foreign entanglement hasrnhad a ratcheting effect on the expansionrnof the state at home. This causal relationrnis quite clear to me, though, unlikernFrum, I do not describe myself as a libertarian.rnIt seems equally clear that Frum hypocriticallyrnaccuses Buchanan (and “hisrnfriend and fellow-columnist whose ideasrnBuchanan has increasingly echoed,”rnSam Francis) of turning conservatismrnaway from its roots and towards greaterrnstatism. Both Reaganism and its Kempianrnvariation, however, accomplishedrnthis long before Buchanan came on thernpresidential scene. Buchanan may be atrnleast intermittently a “big-governmentrnconservative,” but he is not the first to fitrnthat description: the 1980’s were full ofrnthem, and Commentary, to which Frumrncontributes, keeps that tradition alivernand well. Indeed, Frum himself amplyrnsubscribes to it, given his views on civilrnrights, foreign policy, and social servicesrnto illegal aliens. Not surprisingly (to usernone of his favorite expressions), his commentaryrnon Buchanan and the paleoconservativesrnis the most factually distortedrnpart of his anthology. Buchanan mentionedrnGoldman Sachs in his indictmentrnof the Mexican bailout not becausernof his “habit of using Jewish namesrnto personify things he dislikes,” but becausernit was the investment firm thatrnClinton’s Treasury Secretary had longrnrepresented and which stood to profitrnheavily from the bailout. Frum also accusesrnBuchanan of taking on a false litmusrntest “borrowed from Gottfried,rnRothbard, and Chronicles to distinguishrngood, true conservatives from bad neoconservatives.”rnIn fact, he never statesrn32/CHRONICLESrnrnrn