In spring 2003, the journalist and former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum published acontroversial essay in the pages of the conservative house organ, National Review. In the frenzied run-up to the Iraq War, Frum, branded a number of antiwar conservatives like Patrick Buchanan, the columnist Robert Novak and the libertarian journalist Justin Raimondo as “unpatriotic conservatives.”
Indeed, Frum went so far as to write that, “They deny and excuse terror. They espouse a potentially self-fulfilling defeatism. They publicize wild conspiracy theories. And some of them explicitly yearn for the victory of their nation’s enemies.”
The venue in which Frum’s hit piece appeared was fitting. Under the stewardship of William F Buckley, Jr. NR had long functioned as a kind of ideological referee for the conservative movement. Buckley (eventually) earned the respect of both the Republican and Liberal establishments for – in effect – purging the movement of anti-Semitic cranks, Birchers, and even some of the more doctrinaire libertarians in its ranks.