On each and every point Novak had been right and his opponents had been wrong. In opinion journalism, you would hope that the quality of opinion would count for something. But in those poisonous days, truth was no defense. “Unpatriotic.” It was the cruelest cut you could inflict on a conservative of a certain age. When I put down my copy of NR, I felt a genuinely new sensation. For the first time in my long association with the magazine, I was ashamed. If only in an attenuated way, I felt somehow complicit. All of the moral capital we had accumulated over the years, all of the credibility we had earned by weeding out the Randians, the Birchers, the racists, the anti-Semites, and the 24-hour nutbars — all of it was used to leverage an ad hominem attack on one of our oldest friends. ~Neal Freeman

I know Mr. Freeman is making a point here: the disloyalty and treachery of the attack on Novak summed up just how far NR had fallen and how debased it had become in its subservience to the administration’s looney enterprise.  I suppose it might have been expected that NR’s hit squad would have gone after various and sundry paleos (and not for the first time), but Mr. Freeman does neglect to mention that the article took aim at Novak as one of the paleos (whether or not this is an accurate description of Novak and regardless of the fact that Frum clearly has no idea what the term means).  Of course, Novak could not dissociate himself fast enough from most of the other gentlemen (Thomas Fleming, Sam Francis, Joe Sobran, Lew Rockwell, Scott McConnell, Justin Raimondo, Charley Reese, Jude Wanniski, Eric Margolis, and Taki Theodoracopulos) named in the article:

Frum, on the other hand, chose that moment to begin shooting at ‘’paleo-conservatives.'’ He brackets me with his selected paleos–people whom I have never met or read and whose anti-Semitic and white supremacist views I abhor.

Having never met any of these men or read anything they have ever written (except, presumably, the quotes in the article that Frum cherry-picked, ripped out of context and twisted for his own purposes in his fantastically dishonest article), how was it that Novak knew of any of their views that he characterised so confidently (and wrongly)?  (For the record, as Dr. Francis pointed out at the time, several of those on the list are not exactly “paleoconservatives” or even necessarily conservatives at all–Lew Rockwell might have a stroke if you suggested he was any such thing–nor do they use the name.)  Furthermore, why would he presume to believe Frum’s distorted, tendentious account of their views when he knew that Frum had just engaged in character assassination against him?  How could he abhor something he knows nothing about? 

Notably, he did not write off Mr. Buchanan, who would seem to have agreed for the most part with all of the gentlemen listed above on questions of foreign policy and the invasion of Iraq (since at least four of them were and still are Buchanan’s colleagues at TAC or have at least been regular contributors to the magazine), all of whom said much the same as Novak, but who also managed to say it more often and who said it better.  Of course, he repudiated them because that is what some will do to remain “respectable.”   

Update: For those who haven’t seen it, here is Dr. Tom Landess’ response to Frum in defense of Mel Bradford (I’ll have more about this when I return to TRI summer school blogging, which really will be fairly soon), about whom Frum lied rather egregiously during his takedown of the others.