As I wrote about last week, I’ve signed up for a paid subscription to an online Atlantic magazine service called Masthead. One of the benefits is a weekly login call with a prominent figure in journalism, politics, etc. Last week was Julia Ioffe, who has long covered Russia. This week’s call was with David Frum, neoconservative political commentator for the Atlantic and other media sources. I find the call-in very interesting, and the Monday morning time slot works well for me.
Listeners don’t get to speak in real time — the call is conducted by a Masthead staffer with the interviewee — but we get to submit real time questions through a chat function. I was a bit thrilled to have my question selected: “At what point do you and other thoughtful Republicans opt out of an increasingly populist and angry party? What might be your personal tipping point?”
Frum basically affirmed his loyalty to conservative Republican values and policy positions and said he’ll remain inside and fight for the future direction of the party. I would have like to ask a follow-up question: “But what if the party no longer reflects those long held values and policies?” But of course you don’t get to ask a follow-up when there is a stream of good new questions waiting to be asked. The list of questions is visible to all — that in itself was interesting.
Frum has no illusions about Donald Trump’s having a narcissistic personality disorder. Frum also said he had some business dealings with Trump about 10 years ago, and Frum is surprised at the visible decline in Trump’s cognitive functioning, impulse control, and ability to stay focused since that time. But Frum is a Republican through and through, and a Republican he will stay.
Frum did talk about the seeming inability of Republicans in Congress to act as a check on Trump’s behavior, and does not see that as a good thing.
Neither do I.