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Words of Advice for Conservatives

‘Comeback’ Offers Suggestions for a Return to Republican Dominance

Former Bush speechwriter and special assistant David Frum is not watching the 2008 presidential race from the sidelines. In his new book, “Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again,” he serves up advice on how Republicans can regain power in Washington and take control on issues including stagnant population growth, obesity and what he refers to as the “family dynasties” that dominate Capitol Hill.

“Comeback” went on sale Jan. 7 “with an eye to have an impact on the Republican race in 2008,” Frum said.

He noted that he has been working on the book since 2005 and is embarrassed that it took him so long to complete it. But the resulting work —179 pages before endnotes—is jampacked with information.

There is a growing disconnect between what voters want and what the Republican Party is willing to offer, Frum said. He suggests that Republicans flip their ideological workflow. They should look first at what the voters want, and craft the party’s ideologies second, he said.

Frum, who is now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said lawmakers should take his suggestions seriously, not just because of his extensive work experience but also because of the data he collected for the book.

In a chapter titled “Goal One: A Better Deal for the Middle Class,” Frum suggests making Congress accessible to candidates other than the ones with the large bank accounts and familiar family names.

“Congress is becoming ever more a closed club,” the AEI fellow said, categorizing campaign finance reforms as “important villains in this story.”

“In 2000 the son of a president and the son of a senator battled for presidency; of the frontrunners for 2008, one is the wife of a president, another the son of a senator, another the son of a governor,” Frum notes in “Comeback.”

Frum said he is not opposed to all campaign finance reform but disagrees with a large majority of it. “Each new one only makes the problem worse,” he said of campaign finance legislation.

“Our efforts to get money out of politics have made politics a closed club,” he argued.

Frum said he also tried to highlight the severe economic strain an aging population of baby boomers will place on the American dollar.

“Fifteen years from now we are not going to be able to talk about anything else,” Frum said.

In “Comeback,” Frum advocates for the creation of federal policies to encourage larger families, a move he argues would counteract America’s aging population.

“People think we don’t need to have children because we’ll have immigrants,” Frum said. But that is “a bad answer,” he said.

Frum also suggests the Republican Party work to create genuinely passionate conservatism, raise its ethical standards and embrace the emerging economic crisis that is looming because of competition from China.

Though the book is timed to coincide with the presidential race, it may still resonate after the election is over. A paperback version will be released in 2009 for those who didn’t catch on to the message the first time around, Frum said.

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