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Jeet Heer on AEI and the David Frum Firing Fiasco

Jeet Heer:

The Frum Firing Fiasco: AEI has embarrassed itself. Although allegedly a “think tank” with “scholars” AEI in fact a haven for highly partisan political actors, many of who have been disgraced by their time in government. Current “scholars” at the think tank include Lynne Cheney (who has written some cheesy novels), Newt Gingrich (another writer of schlock fiction), John R. Bolton, Charles Murray, Richard Perle (also a terrible novelist), Michael Rubin, Paul Wolfowitz and John (“torture memos” ) Yoo. These are not, to be as polite as humanly possible, figures that command respect for their scholarly achievements.

There are a few worthwhile people at AEI: Norman J. Ornstein always merits attention if you want to know about the ins-and-outs of congressional politics and Roger Scruton (when he’s not working as a shill for the tobacco industry) has written some fine essays on aesthetics. On domestic policy at least, Frum stood out from the partisan hacks who dominate AEI by trying to grapple with actual policy issues in an innovative way (however wrong-headed his solutions might be).... At his best Frum is the type of figure that John Stuart Mill was always on the look out for, a conservative who is intellectually challenging enough to make liberalism stronger. Following Millsian principals, I myself always want to read smart conservatives, who in recent years have been few and far between. Aside from Frum, only a handful of names come to mind: Christopher Caldwell, Andrew Coyne, Scott McConnell, Gertrude Himmelfarb, John Lukacs, Andrew Bacevich, and Joseph Epstein. Frum was an ornament to the AEI and his firing disgraces them...