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Correcting Mr. Crittenden

Dear, oh dear. As the great Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Frum the bum, that is. As some of you may remember, the Uriah-Heep-like Frum recently painted all those conservatives that opposed the war against Iraq—we believed Saddam no longer possessed WMDs and was not involved with al-Qaeda—with the broad brush of unpatriotism. In his mephitic and intellectually dishonest mind, all neocons are patriotic, all traditional conservatives, traitorous and anti-Semitic. So far, so bad. But it gets worse, for the bum has now pulled a Jayson Blair. (I feel sorry for this troubled young man, and I think the Times is being self-serving in raking him over the coals; these things happen.) No, Frum has done a Stephen Glass. (I certainly don’t feel sorry for Glass; he has used his lies and deception as a very convenient career move.)

Before I go on about Frum’s inventions, a brief flashback. I do not surf or read the Internet because I do not know how. I can send and receive e-mail by following written instructions, but that’s about it. It amazes me how well I get along without access, and now I have even learned a new word: blog. It seems that David Frum has a blog, whatever that is, and two friends of mine read his diary of May 7. It involved yours truly, and they printed it out and faxed it to me. Talk about Stephen Glass. This guy fabricates like Baron Munchausen but safeguards himself by creating a he-said/she-said situation. He wrote, Taki, as you may recall, appeared in my recent piece for the print NR about conservatives who oppose the war on terror. He wasn’t pleased with my assessment of him, and wrote an indignant piece in his magazine, The American Conservative, about our single meeting at a large dinner party in the late 90s. Taki remembers being displeased with the meeting, but he neglects to explain why, perhaps because he was too drunk to remember. I’ll provide the details he omitted.

After dinner broke up, Taki cornered Danielle. From across the room, I caught her marital distress signal and came over to intercede. Taki retreated immediately and in a slurred voice offered what was I suppose intended as an apology. “This is why I am an anti-semite—the Jews take all the most beautiful women.” Whatever else you think of those words, they’re certainly a more plausible explanation of Taki’s political views than anything he’s been willing to put into print. Now for my version. During the late ’90s, I received a letter from a lady by the name of Danielle Crittenden asking me to write for her Women’s Quarterly a piece on why Clinton was not JFK where women were concerned. She could not pay, but offered a drink “the next time you are in Washington.” I accepted, wrote about what a slob Clinton was where the fairer sex was concerned, and forgot about it. During a Conrad Black party at the Metropolitan Club in New York, a lady approached me, identified herself as Danielle Crittenden, and thanked me for writing pro bono. If memory serves—and it does—I said something to the effect that had I known she was attractive, I would have written better, and left it at that. She then introduced me to “my husband.” I shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

Here is where the big lie comes in. The idea that I would say what he claims I said to a perfect stranger is preposterous. I have been brought up to act like a gentleman of the old school, and although I am a heavy drinker and an incorrigible womanizer, I would no more dream of “hitting” on a woman I just met than I would betray my country for profit. (Drunk or sober, my manners do not vary. I am of the aristocratic school of thought about women. One never makes a lady feel anything but one, and by lady I mean anyone female.) Then comes the Frum specialty, the cheap shot lie. At the time I had never heard of Frum and took him for Mr. Crittenden. Is it credible that I would say I was anti-Semitic to a man I did not know and had no idea what religion he was? Was he wearing a yarmulke? Does he take me for a Nazi in Berlin circa 1938? First and foremost, I am not anti-Semitic. Second, we Christians get our share of beautiful women, so why would I embarrass myself with such an asinine remark? Frum has written this to himself for reasons unknown. I suspect he hopes someone picks it up and then he can quote from that someone and make it a fact. Well, it won’t wash. I do not know whether he and his wife work in tandem, but if he has ensnared her in his farrago of lies, it is a pity. She gave me the impression of a good person.

What is interesting is that Frum has used his wife before. I read that it was she who e-mailed people that Frum had invented the phrase “Axis of Evil” that his then boss, President Bush, had used in his State of the Union address. As it happens, the White House denies it, just as Frum denies the fact that he was canned soon after. And it all fits.Frum accuses anyone who opposes his views of being anti-Semitic. As I wrote in The American Conservative’s April 21st issue, he tries to shut down debate by charging anti-Semitism, the oldest and cheapest trick in the book. He has now impugned both my honor and my manners. Mud sticks, and he’s hoping that by smearing me he can shut me up. But I will put my trust in the American system, where fabrication and concoction may work for awhile, but sooner or later the calumny is exposed.

And another thing. When new boundaries in the war of ideas are crossed, when someone will write anything, however false, it is bound to move the goalposts for the worse. Let me give you an example: imagine that I answered Frum’s lies by saying that he had asked me to join him in a threesome with his wife, which of course there is no question he did not. The press would pick it up, it would become a he-said/she-said controversy, and for the rest of his life there would be a doubt about him. The public would think, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. (Roger Stone, the lobbyist, knows all about that. He was falsely accused, and despite no proof ever surfacing, the first thing I heard when his name came up was that horror.) Even Frum does not deserve such a fate.

But see what I mean about inventing things? A civil society is based on certain rules. One can insult all one wants —I certainly do—but one cannot invent. With his latest slander Frum proves that he will do anything to win a point. He is the controversialist who goes over the top every time merely in the cause of getting one over on those who disagree with him. He has taken one swipe too many this time. The ball, as they say, is in my court.

Sooner or later Frum is bound to embarrass his employers. Like Blair and Glass, he is bound to be caught. They tell me that he is a talented writer who knows policy inside out. Good for him. He should stick to it. Making up a story about a man like me—thoroughly disliked for speaking my mind, a onetime heavy drinker and skirt chaser—will not gain him kudos. I was alone when all he claims took place happened, but the idea that I would deny having acted badly, or that I was too drunk to remember, only shows how little he knows about me. Perhaps he thinks people like me act this way, but that is because he has not had my upbringing. I even gave myself away in customs once because I was too scared to be caught in a lie. Frum is a liar and a cheap-shot artist, and I nominate him as the perennial winner of the Stephen Glass prize for journalism.

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