The Spectacle Blog

Re: Who is David Frum

By on 10.1.08 | 3:38PM

I rarely disagree with my good friend Jeffrey Lord, but I strenuously disagree with his take on what qualifies somebody for Veep or president. Specifically, I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement: "Any American conservative should know by now that there are three core qualities needed to be a good president: philosophy, character and good old-fashioned common-sense judgment."

That's only a partial list. I know literally hundreds of people, personally, who have those three core qualities, and I know of thousands (i.e. not in person but OF them). But that doesn't mean those hundreds or thousands would all be good presidents or veeps. Any conservative who denigrates experience and knowledge -- which apparently these days means 90% of conservative activists -- isn't the sort of conservative that I thought was part of the very definition of conservatism. Maybe I inherited too much from Russell Kirk by osmosis through my godfather, who knew him, but a conservative who doesn't value the wisdom that comes from experience is.... a mere ideologue. or so I thought until a month ago.

As for Harry Truman, it is true that the elites sneered. And true that he was a failed haberdasher. But he had shown great leadership as an officer in World War I, and he had served incredibly admirably as chairman of a phemonenally important and successful, bipartisan Senate oversight committee during World War II. His experience makes Palin's pale in comparison (pun not intended, but not bad nonetheless, eh?). Even so, I think his reputation these days is far better than what he deserves.

The problem with Palin isn't just what elites sneer at her for -- her mannerisms, her accent, her expressions -- but what so far seems like an incredibly lack of comfort with national issues. She just doesn't seem to know what she's talking about, and she often talks in utterly incoherent sentences. While it is true that the elites have all sneered at her for the unimportant things, and that some of them have been incredibly nasty and out of line in doing so, I don't think it's fair to lay those sins on Frum. Those things, in my reading, are not the basis of his objections.

Despite my doubts, I for one will be rooting hard for Palin in tomorrow night's debate. I think she is a lady of admirable character and engaging personality. But those traits do not, in my book, suffice for a good vice president. I hope, deeply, that I am wrong. But if I am, it is not because I am an elitist, but because Palin will have risen above her level of experience. Very few people can do so. And it is decidely NOT elitist to say so.

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