Only because I mentioned in an earlier column this week that conservative David Frum had spoken out lambasting Republicans for screwing up the health reform opposition did I find it curious he has been fired.
My reaction was the universally accepted “Big bad conservative think tank axes writer for criticizing GOP intransigence” as Greg Sargent is quoted in today’s First Read political notes. Sargent runs the political blog “The Plum Line” and Frum, a former Republican presidential speech writer, was a featured commentator for the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute.
Sargent, who said he talked to Frum, claimed such conspiratorial assumptions are false.
Frum, on his blog, said he had lunch with AEI president Arthur Brooks when he was told he was terminated just days after Frum’s column. Sargent said Brooks praised Frum for drawing attention to the think tank, but, alas, times were tough and he had to go.
The Frum firing raised a question I rarely think about and that is who are these relatively well-known authors who represent these think tanks and hammer home their special interests for their particular political and economic agendas. Frankly, I always believed they were given far too much credence than they deserved for their purposes are so often applying lipstick to a pig.
In fact, I actually learned something today and that is think tank voices are moonlighters. They receive modest pay but the biggest perk is they are provided affordable health insurance coverage they may not receive at their day jobs.
Matt Miller, a self-styled moderate columnist for the Washington Post, said Frum was fired because his critical column of Republicans unleashed a backlash of think tank sponsors threatening to withdraw financial support.
“But in ousting him after a mad overnight revolt among its donors, the American Enterprise Institute has put Frum’s family into precisely the health care hell that Obamacare seeks to remedy,” Miller writes. He explains:
What many people don’t realize about the think tank world is that the policy types who serve as modestly paid fellows do so in large part for the health coverage. In our antiquated employer-based system, middle-aged wonks simply have to be attached to a group to be insurable. If you and your spouse have reached your 40s and have had even modest health bumps along the way, you’ll never be able to get coverage in the pre-Obamacare individual market…
Talk about a two-fer. In one stroke, David Frum has become not only the poster boy for the Republican party’s incoherent tantrums, but for the need for Obamacare itself! It doesn’t get more delicious than this.
I’m not worried that Mr. Frum will find a new gig to supplement his income even though Obamacare’s insurance exchanges Miller talks about don’t kick in for three years.
The spin on political issues never seems to stop.
Jerry Remmers worked 26 years in the newspaper business. His last 23 years was with the Evening Tribune in San Diego where assignments included reporter, assistant city editor, county and politics editor.