I have to say that my criticism of his remarks on Rush Limbaugh notwithstanding, I pretty much agreed with everything he had to say before he took questions.Â One of those questions was from me.Â Since I spoke spontaneously (without a teleprompter as did Frum), I don’t have an accurate transcription of that question. I will rephrase it as best I can.
After introducing myself and identifying this blog, he said, “I know your site.”Â Honored by the recognition, I continued:
Had I not been coming here tonight to hear you speak, I would not have read your Newsweek article in large part because of the title and the periodical where it was appearing.Â When I did read it, I found I agreed with about 80% of what you said, particularly your point on health care.Â But, I wonder what you felt it necessary to repeat Rahm Emanuel’s talking points on Rush Limbaugh.
He answered by repeating much of what he had said in the article linked above, highlighting that the talk show host was particularly unpopular among young people and women.Â What impressed me about his response was the courtesy he showed me.Â He allowed me to ask a followup, then gave me credit for not interrupting him and listening.
I thought it was a touch of grace because he could probably tell I was itching for a debate.Â (We did continue this debate after the Q & A, but the exchange while spirited, was understandably interrupted by others who wanted to talk to him.)
The one fault I will make of him–and it’s a big one is that he seems to harbor a good deal of resentment for conservative talk show host on radio and television.Â Perhaps, it’s because they’ve criticized him.
If, however, he wants them to hear his message he needs be more magnanimous and refrain from attacking them, reminding them that he’s on the side and shares some of the same goals they do.Â Indeed, he talked about building a broad-based coalition, saying, “You can’t get anywhere by firing the base.”Â He also said, “You can’t win by being anti-gay.”
He cited a great variety of demographic statistics, showing how, over the past two decades, the GOP has increasingly fallen out of favor with educated voters and was even slipping among certain ethnic minorities (e.g., East Asians) were once they were strong.Â He contrasted how well the Gipper had done with young voters with how poorly McCain had done.
I disagree with his contention that those young voters “will be voting against George W. Bush well into the 2060s.“Â But, I think that when they begin to realize how much debt Obama is leaving to them (after campaigning on a “net spending cut“) while adopting policies which will limit their choices (see this piece by Michael Barone and this), the GOP can pull them into our fold.
They can do that when they find a way to adapt conservative ideas to their concerns and communicate those ideas accordingly.Â Frum was spot on when he said we need apply eternal conservative principles “to a new time.”
That’s not far off from what Rush Limbaugh has been saying.Â But, perhaps Frum is right and Rush is not the best messenger to communicate our concerns to twentysomethings once so enthusiastic for Obama.Â He still remains a respected messenger to my generation — and the one before mine.Â Just because we need find new messengers doesn’t mean we need fire the old ones.