Thomas Frank is the author of the anti-conservative screed What’s the Matter with Kansas? (released in Europe as What’s the Matter with America?, which suggests to me that Kansas wasn’t all that aberrant after all). He likes anti-conservative conspiracy theories, particularly anti-market ones.
Virtually every column he writes takes one of two juvenile forms: either he (1) accuses conservatives of deliberately harming people or screwing things up to advance their sinister agenda or, even more annoyingly, (2) picks some bizarre boondoggle associated with Republican politicians but in no logical way an outgrowth of conservative (and certainly not free-market) ideology (waste and ineptitude at the Department of Labor, in one recent column), then claims, like a child yelling “Tag! You’re it!” that since the boondoggle is nominally “conservative” (or in the case of the Department of Labor, was merely spoken of in a positive way once by religious-right activist Paul Weyrich), said boondoggle is not merely conservative but in fact a perfect representation of conservatism at its best, thus proving all conservatives (like me) to be evil morons (like Thomas Frank).
If you don’t think I’ve got his formula pegged, check out his August 6, 2008 Wall Street Journal column (he does this over and over again — and on a slightly more abstract note, check out his column from yesterday lamenting the creation of a Milton Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago).
If he really believes, though, in constant sinister calculations by conservatives (who always get exactly the results they wanted in the political realm!), I have a great conspiracy theory for him: I think the Wall Street Journal hired him as the ongoing default left-wing columnist precisely to remind their right-leaning readers what complete idiots there are on the left. (Has it never crossed your mind that this might be why you were cast in the role, Mr. Frank?)
Luckily, I am not the only one who has such suspicions about Frank — so too, I think, does Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times, who savaged his new book (which is about conservatives being evil). Good for her — and good for the left’s self-improvement.
(One odd sidenote: Kakutani’s review of this dimwitted leftist may be good, but according to New York magazine, she shares a flaw with a free-market writer of my acquaintance — like Reason’s Brian Doherty, she has been criticized in print for making excessive use of the word “limn.” Coincidence?)