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Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again Paperback – January 20, 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his new book, Frum (The Right Man), former speechwriter to President Bush, offers a conservative blueprint for accommodating challenges central to the next half-century of American life. Drawing on his expert knowledge of domestic politics and foreign policy, Frum shows how Republicans must evolve in accordance with the challenges and fluidity of contemporary America to win hearts, minds and elections. After staking out viably conservative positions on the salient political battles in America-healthcare, education, the economy, foreign policy, embryonic stem cell research, taxation and the like-Frum shines when dealing with the grand strategy of taxation, particularly his pro-growth model for accommodating domestic spending obligations such as social security. His analysis is particularly striking in its advocacy for consumption taxation in lieu of taxes that stifle investment and free enterprise. Taxes aimed at upper-class consumers rather than savings and investment is a provocative idea worthy of consideration. And although Frum's ideas are good, if not brilliant, the final chapter, in which he describes the errant behavior of the Bush administration, seems like a tardy rebuke to a president he once called The Right Man.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


In his treatment of what ails conservatism today, Frum is penetrating and wise . . . and dead right.” —National Review

“Serious reappriasial and fresh, challenging ideas.” —New York Times Book Review


Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (January 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767920325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767920322
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #936,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Frum is a contributing editor at Newsweek/Daily Beast and a CNN contributor. He is the author of eight books, including most recently the e-book WHY ROMNEY LOST and his first novel, PATRIOTS. In 2001-2002, he served as speechwriter and special assistant to President George W. Bush; in 2007-2008, as senior adviser to the Rudy Giuliani presidential campaign. You can read him at DailyBeast.com/davidfrum and on Twitter @davidfrum

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unlike one reviewer whose opinion is posted here, I have read the book. It is a very interesting critique of the recent drift in conservative thought. As Frum points out, most of the battles from the 1970s have been won. Crime, out of control in 1974 when the movie "Death Wish" got standing ovations in movie theaters, has dropped steadily. Los Angeles has fewer murders than any time since the 1950s. New York is livable (although I'll have to take others word on that. I hate the place.). That problem is solved although Britain seems to be sinking into the same morass now as a result of the same policies that were reversed here by the conservatives in the 1980s. Supply side economics has pretty well replaced Keynesian economics everywhere but the Congressional Democratic caucus. Taxes have been cut until 80% of Americans pay more in payroll taxes (FICA, etc) than income tax. We won the intellectual battles but, as Frum points out, we at once began to enjoy the fruits of victory and forgot that, in politics at least, nothing is ever finally settled. The high point for conservatism was 1994 when the Republicans took Congress on a platform of conservative principles. Everything since has trended down.

Some of his most thought provoking comments pertain to health care, a special interest of mine. He is concerned that the middle class has been getting a raw deal for the past twenty years, partly due to health care costs. I have studied health care both as a physician and as a gradate student in health care economics. I won't get into details but Frum poses serious questions that Republicans will have to answer if they wish to retain power at the federal level. That section alone, is worth the price of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very insightful book. Frum captures the ideological problems today on the right and suggests the obvious truth that far too many refuse to listen to. The right needs to develop solutions to todays problems and a political agenda that addresses them from a conservative point of view. For example, everyone knows health care in America and health insurance are broken. Ask anyone who runs a medium-size company. The movement needs to pull its head out of the sand and come up with positive reforms to fix the system rather than allowing the debate be between nationalization and doing nothing. Simple solutions like returning health care to a situation where people pay a real price for health care rather than a phony marked up price designed to force people into the insurance system.

The conservative movement today needs to refresh itself ideologically and to start talking about what its for rather than talking about what its against.
Comments in 2011

Things have moved on since the book was published. While my view of the book is the same, I have nothing favoriable to say about its author anymore. There is a line between supporting conservative solutions to social problems and trying to transform conservatism into Lyndon Johnson style liberalism with social spending run amok at home and wars abroad.

I think the arguments presented in the book are substantially more mild than the thinking behind the arguments have turned out over time to be.
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Format: Paperback
I settled on this book after reading an essay of Frum's in the NYT magazine a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, my frustration at his poor research and data almost overwhelmed any good points he might have been making. His claims about immigrants decreasing the wages of "non" immigrants have been shown to be inaccurate (at best) and outright wrong at worst. The research he sites about children needing a mom and a dad has also been debunked. Books like this, regardless of whether they are written by conservatives or liberals (Chris Hutchinson's book qualifies as well) are almost a waste of time because their agenda overrides any need to actually use good research to back up their claims.

A couple of things that did stand out--Frum calls for a Carbon tax offset by an increase in the child tax credit that seems to make economic sense; it encourages the development of green energy (without the government subsidizing pork barrel issues like corn in Iowa) while also not being punitive to the poor. Frum also basically declares the war on choice dead--he argues that we've reached an equilibrium where pro-live advocates have achieved many of their goals and pro-choice have maintained many of theirs while still respecting state's rights. (At least, I think that's what he's saying).

It's at least somewhat gratifying to note that Frum is ready and willing to admit he was wrong when he championed Bush's presidency and to acknowledge that a harkening back to Reagon economics at this point in time is not going to win any republicans any votes (He states that despite repeated loud and vociferous cries from republican voters that they do not want anymore tax cuts, Republicans keep beating this dead horse).

Many of his claims are not backed up (despite a deep section of footnotes.
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Format: Hardcover
Both the Republican and Democrat national parties are built on the "big tent" theory: that they are to incorporate all the divergent views of their respective constituencies into a single party, rather than have dozens of splinter parties as in Europe and elsewhere.

The result has been a remarkably stable system of government. The serious student of politics knwos that within the larger party, there is always a dominant faction and that this dominant faction changes from time to time.

For about thirty years, genuine conservatives dominated the Republican Party. With them came the West's victory over the Soviet Union, the freeing of Eastern Europe without bloodshed, forcing welfare and budget reform on the nation and other victories, large and small, including the historic 1994 election victory. Perhaps because of its very success, the Republican Party lost its way and genuine conservatives were shouldered aside.

Now comes David Frum, a Canadian, with his thoughts on how Conservatism can win again.

It is indeed a thought provoking book, but not one that will be adopted as a Conservative bible.

Frum's basic thesis is that conservatives have lost their way, that too many of them have lost touch with the changing public and its views. He is right in his perceptions, but his prescriptions may not be acceptable to real conservatives.

For example, Frum goes on at length about how his proposal for a new way of viewing the abortion issue. I have a better idea, I think: ignore. Just say that the government has no business getting involved with the question at all and take the Republican Party out of a can't win situation.
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