Charles Murray calls David Frum a liar

After noting with regret that what he is about to say will end his friendship of many years with David and Danielle Frum, Charles Murray at the Corner states that Frum’s version of why he was fired by AEI president Arthur Brooks is “calumny.” Murray is referring to the fact that last night, expanding on his resignation letter yesterday (discussed by me here), Frum told Politico that AEI fired him because of “donor pressure” over his political positions, namely his harsh condemnations of the Republican Party. Disputing this, Murray insists that AEI gives its scholars absolute intellectual freedom to take the positions they take, something Murray knows well as a person who has pushed the envelope himself. Murray concludes: “I think that for David to have leveled the charge that Brooks caved in to donor pressure, knowing that the charge would be picked up and spread beyond recall, knowing that such a charge strikes at the core of the Institute’s integrity, and making such a sensational charge without a shred of evidence, is despicable.”

Why then did AEI fire him? Murray thinks it’s because Frum participated very little at AEI notwithstanding his $100,000 per year salary. “If I had to guess—and that’s what I’m doing, guessing—David’s departure arose from something as simple as this: Management thinks that an employee is not as productive a member of the organization as management thinks he should be. The employee disagrees. They part company.”

If Murray is correct, then the story is even more sensational than it initially appeared. What we understood from Frum’s version yesterday was that AEI fired him for attacking the Republican Party, which (as I suggested), would make sense, given how hostile Frum has been to mainstream conservatives and Republicans, culminating in his “Republican Waterloo” statement at his blog last Sunday. But if Murray is correct, then Frum made up the story that AEI fired him for his political views of the Republican party. Meaning that Frum manufactured a story of his intellectual martyrdom at the hands of the conservative establishment.

And, I would add, if this is true, then Frum also manufactured the story that Brooks wanted him to vacate his office yesterday, to make it appear that AEI was rudely forcing him out.

Wouldn’t this explanation fit the pattern of Frum’s wildly self-serving and anti-conservative behavior which I have written about, including his tendency to make things up to justify and glorify himself? For example, see my post about his conversation with a very displeased Hugh Hewitt in fall 2009, about which I commented:

Based on what he says in this interview, I think Frum’s problem is worse than anything I’ve previously said about his being an unprincipled opportunist. I think his arguments are so bizarre they could only be made by a person who is mentally disturbed and out of touch with reality. But perhaps the second explanation is just a result of Frum’s extreme case of the first. That is, he’s so set on finding ways to delegitimize conservatives, which is the central thrust of his new career, that he will say anything to discredit them, even things that are flagrantly nonsensical and that discredit himself.

For further evidence of Frum’s bent for making things up, see my discussion of his fantastical claim in 2007 that he has been a pioneer thinker in the field of immigration restrictionism.

* * *


A reader points out that if Murray is correct, then Arthur Brooks was certainly untactful in firing Frum immediately after the health care debacle and Frum’s “Waterloo” comment, which certainly made it appear that the firing was a response to Frum’s behavior.

The reader also asks why it would be wrong for a think tank to fire someone if his views radically departed from the mission of the think tank. Let’s say a conservative think tank hired a resident scholar on the expectation that he would help advance conservative ideas, and the person subsequently changed his views and began promoting socialism. Would the think tank be required to keep the person on, despite the fact that he now stands for the opposite of what the think tank stands for? Murray, being a libertarian, seems not to appreciate the fact that unqualified freedom cannot be the guiding value of any institution.

Finally, the reader says that Frum has been at least somewhat on the side of immigration restrictionists. She mentions that Frum moderated the remarkable AEI panel on immigration in 2008 in which graduate student Jason Richwine shocked the audience by pointing out that nonwhite immigrants have significantly lower IQ than whites and that this will present a serious obstacle to assimilation.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 26, 2010 02:07 PM | Send

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