FRUMBrendanSmialowski:Getty

David tells Politico this:

“There's a lot about the story I don't really understand. But the core of the story is the kind of economic pressure that intellectual conservatives are under. AEI represents the best of the conservative world. [AEI President] Arthur Brooks is a brilliant man, and his books are fantastic. But the elite isn’t leading anymore. It’s trapped. Partly because of the desperate economic situation in the country, what were once the leading institutions of conservatism are constrained. I think Arthur took no pleasure in this. I think he was embarrassed. I think he would have avoided it if he possibly could, but he couldn't.”

Mike Allen adds:

Ask other AEI scholars how they felt about David’s mail and packages piling up outside his office.

Frum, who will be 50 in June, had been on the payroll since leaving the Bush White House in 2003. He acknowledges he was very seldom at the office. But he maintains he developed and spread conservative ideas -- AEI’s stated goal -- with the 300,000 words a year that he writes for his blog, FrumForum.com; his weekly columns for CNN.com, The Week, and the National Post of Canada; his biweekly offerings for TIME and American Public Media’s “Marketplace”; and his three TV and three radio appearances in a typical week.

But doesn't he get paid by CNN and Time as well, for example?

(Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty.)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.