WHAT'S RIGHT by David Frum


The New Conservative Majority and the Remaking of America
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 Commentary can best be described as a reflective critique of current events. Which is precisely what Frum (Dead Right, 1994) offers in this impressive medley of previously published essays on various aspects of political conservatism. Taken from the pages of such periodicals as The American Spectator, Forbes, The National Review, and The Wall Street Journal, the 30-odd pieces collected here are divided into three main groups: politics and politicians; public policy; and the thinkers whose convictions in one way or another helped shape contemporary conservatism. Although candidly partisan in his perspective, the Canadian-born author casts a clear, cold eye on fellow tories and their office-seeking antics. Cases in point range from unsparing profiles of the latter-day right's saints and sinners--Pat Buchanan (a.k.a. ``the Conservative Bully Boy''), Newt Gingrich, Phil Gramm, Jack Kemp, Colin Powell--through harsh takes on the Christian Coalition (which, for all the fear and loathing it inspires on the left, has a largely unrealized agenda). He also takes on the ideationally addled Republican lawmakers who support subsidies for Big Business or compound the problem of spiraling health-care costs with other than market solutions. Included as well are perceptive disquisitions on John Maynard Keynes (``the Nietzsche of economics''), Russell Kirk (who ``taught that conservatism was above all a moral cause''), and Harry S. Truman (an unfortunate neocon icon in Frum's view). Throughout, the author is insistent that conservatives and their candidates must value principle over popularity with the electorate, stressing minimal government intervention, individual freedom, self-reliance, personal probity, fiscal responsibility, and actual (as opposed to rhetorical) cuts in federal spending. Right-minded observations from an intellectual and ideological heir of William Buckley.

Pub Date: June 19th, 1996
ISBN: 0-465-04197-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996


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