My friend Jonathan Rauch provokes me by praising David Frum. I have hesitated to comment on the AEI scandal because there are conflicting accounts of what happened (see, for instance, Charles Murray; Frum's response). I find it hard to believe the defamatory account which Frum is allowing to circulate. (He never directly affirms it: "draw your own conclusion" is his mode of complaint.) The institute does not strike me as a thought-police kind of place. It has many unruly scholars, toeing nobody's line but their own. Even if the reasons for Frum's ejection were defensible, however, its timing, coming shortly after he attacked the Republican party over its health care defeat, drawing hostile comment in the WSJ and elsewhere, was lamentable: it has created an impression of censorship and was a disaster for the institute.
As for the merits of Frum's line, I agree with him of course that the Republican party needs more thinkers and more moderates. I also agree it needs a positive agenda, and one that computes, fiscally speaking. So far the nearest thing it has is Paul Ryan's blueprint--which the party leadership has not embraced, which voters would likely reject out of hand if they understood it, and which does not, as it stands, solve the fiscal problem.