One of the problems with David Frum's campaign to nudge the Republican Party toward the center is that he relentlessly conflates moral arguments with arguments about electoral feasibility. Frum clearly believes that the party's rightward lurch is wrong and renders the party unable to address real-world problems. But, to appeal to conservatives who don't share his beliefs about public policy, he often frames his case in crass electoral. To wit, this denunciation of Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul. Frum makes some convincing substantive attacks on Paul, but then comes to this:
When Rand Paul announces that he will never vote for an unbalanced budget, today’s angry Republicans hear a man of principle not a petulant grandstander.
You can’t run a country this way of course. Nor (probably) can you win a general election. Especially not with a candidate as deservedly vulnerable as Rand Paul.
Is Paul a weak candidate who gives the Democrats a shot to win a Senate seat they'd otherwise lose for sure? Yes. But is he likely to lose the race? Not according to the polls, which have him running ahead of both potential Democratic opponents.
One problem here is that Frum's arguments are self-defeating. I remember hearing him speak sometime before the 2008 elections. He predicted that the GOP would lose the election, move sharply right, and only after it lost seats again in 2010 would it consider returning to the center. I thought he was nuts to predict that the party would lose seats in 2010, and that was before the financial crisis. The world badly needs him to succeed on his quest to create a rational Republican Party, but he's staking his case on electoral predictions that won't necessarily come true, which will make him easier to ignore.