Skip to comments.The Rise of Uncompassionate Conservatism
Posted on 06/21/2011 9:23:31 AM PDT by Servant of the Cross
The Republican noncandidate flavor of the week is Texas governor Rick Perry. If you squint just right, you could mistake him at a podium for his predecessor, George W. Bush. Except for his message.
There might be no more powerful symbol of the death of compassionate conservatism in the Republican party than Bushs successor and former running mate in Texas stomping all over it with cowboy boots emblazoned with the words Freedom and Liberty.
Bush rose from Texas to the national stage in 1999 talking of his federal education agenda, the courage of single mothers, the power of drug and alcohol recovery programs, and the need for government to forge partnerships with faith organizations. Perry is emerging from Texas talking of the 10th Amendment, cutting government, defending freedom and defending freedom some more.
Bush spoke in dulcet tones. He separated himself from the firebrand politics of Newt Gingrich and even took a swipe at the insufficiently cheerful Robert Bork. Perry is telling Republicans to stop apologizing and elect more conservatives. Hes Rick Perry, and hes from the Republican wing of the Republican party.
The backlash against Bush has long been brewing. Compassionate conservatism was a product of the moment when Bush began to run for president in the late 1990s. The congressional wing of the party had immolated itself in the government-shutdown fights and then the impeachment of Bill Clinton. A rebranding was in order, and Bush wanted to signal to general-election voters that they neednt fear him.
Bush-style conservatism never really took with the broader party, although it gained acquiescence. The president usually gets his way with his congressional majority, so Bush could push through No Child Left Behind and the prescription-drug benefit. The war on terror and the Lefts hatred for him bonded conservatives to Bush whatever their misgivings. The nomination of John McCain himself no down-the-line conservative obscured the anti-Bush feeling.
Now, its in full flower and evident on all fronts, from spending and immigration to foreign policy, as Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns point out in Politico. Running on his message circa 1999, George W. Bush would be hard-pressed to gain traction in the current Republican party. Running on his record circa 2008 the spending programs, the bailouts, the attempted amnesty and the two ongoing hearts and minds wars of counterinsurgency hed be booed from the stage. If Michele Bachmann didnt drop-kick him off it first.
The Bush Republican party had grown flaccid and deserved to be trounced and built anew. But Bush had two insights. He realized that the party had to win over the center as well as the right, and that unadulterated doctrine would appeal most only to the doctrinaire. If Rick Perry thinks the 10th Amendment is going to have cachet with voters worried about their jobs, their wages, and the value of their homes, hes been spending too much time at Federalist Society seminars.
On top of everything else, compassionate conservatism reflected the prosperity of the 1990s. As a candidate, Bush sometimes seemed to forget that economic self-interest trumps all else. In this economy, Republicans would be suicidal ever to forget that. Even as he preaches the old-time religion, Perry in his protostump speech returns again and again to a highly practical theme: his success in fostering a pro-jobs environment in Texas. Republicans may feel no need to be compassionate in the Bush sense defensively vouching for their own good intentions but they need to connect their agenda to their solicitude for the livelihoods of voters.
As the press clues into the new anti-Bush drift of the GOP, we can expect a revival in Bushs reputation. He will be portrayed as more reasonable, more internationalist, and altogether more statesmanlike than his benighted compatriots. If only it were still the party of George W. Bush will be the lament. And it will make the party even more glad that its not.
Fits your point quite nicely.
This is absolutely the wrong way to deal with people in the so-called center. The right conception is that they are people you want to convert to your way of thinking, not you converting to theirs. Instead of trying to moderate your way to the middle, you convince them to immoderate and tilt to the right.
You don't convert the middle by preaching doctrine. That's the point being made, not that No Child Left Behind or the Medicare drug benefit was a good thing.
You lead by example and lead people to make the conclusions that make sense. You don't go preaching the 10th Amendment. People, normal people not FReepers and other political junkies, tune out on this kind of thing.
Preach that the EPA is killing the economy. Make it real. Use concrete illustrations. Then give it a doctrine name, if you have to.
“.....You were prophetic....”
Well shucks. In light of the idiocy that Huntsman was spouting just a few minutes ago - right in line with the new tone and such - you might be right.
What Huntsman doesn’t realize:
Compassionate conservatism = LIBERALISM
True conservatism = equals true compassion.
Huntsman = clueless silver spoon up his a$$ trust fund baby.
That’s my math for the day.
“I am an uncompassionate conservative. My compassion has been sucked right out of me by those who look to the government to steal from me and support them. They never have enough and demand more.”
Sometimes compassion means making the “victim” stand on his own two feet. That’s my kind of compassion.
“the insufficiently cheerful Robert Bork”
Not the Judge Bork I saw on TV including Firing Line. He would drop zingers and ad libs which made the show host grind to a giggling halt amid a sea of teeth. The best jokes are told deadpan and Mr. Bork knew the technique well.
But he was an across the board no compromises Reagan conservative and did not fit the template of `compassionate conservatism’ favored by GWB.
That was the real reason Judge Bork was shunned by Republicans. The MSM turned him into a sort of American Solzhenitsyn with an image of being dour and out of touch with the need to `grow’.
So, let me get this straight. The Tenth Amendment of U.S. Constitution* is "doctrine" that a candidate for the 2012 (that means post Tea Party America) GOP POTUS nomination should NOT be "preaching" to the electorate?!
You aren't Rich Flowry, are you?
* The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. ... the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
No there won't! Obama needs to bash Bush, not emulate him. So the MSM will be in a pickle. They will default to protecting the annoited one.
I’ve never felt like a compassionate conservative, just one that believes in a leg up versus a never ending hand out.
Only after elections.
To me, the implication of this statement is that freedom will not appeal to voters with concerns about economic security. They will want the government to guarantee that everything will be all right.
As my original phrasing "... seems to think ..." indicated, it is possible this is not what Mr. Lowry intended to convey.
“You don’t convert the middle by preaching doctrine... You lead by example and lead people to make the conclusions that make sense. You don’t go preaching the 10th Amendment... Preach that the EPA is killing the economy. Make it real. Use concrete illustrations. Then give it a doctrine name, if you have to.”
—I agree with some of your points, but I think you’re forgetting the flip-side to the 10th Amendment. Under a pure 10th Amendment view, states are allowed to experiment with the powers reserved to them (and not expressly given to the Federal government, etc.); if that means that a blue state wants to enact gay marriage or whatever social-related policies through its police powers, then under this view it has that right. If one believes the poll numbers that support for such policies is around 50/50 or so, then it why wouldn’t moderates support such a 10th perspective (once it was properly explained to them)?
Christian Conservatives are the most compassionate people on earth, as a group.
They give far more than any other groups, money wise and time-wise.
And since they believe charity is both a voluntary and personal matter, not something measured by how much government forciby demands from one set of people it thinks has too much, and redistributes to those pet groups it believes ought to have it, well then, yes, I guess if that’s the definition of ‘compassion’, you can see where such a warped headline the lewinsky media comes up with.
...As the press clues into the new anti-Bush drift of the GOP, we can expect a revival in Bushs reputation. He will be portrayed as more reasonable, more internationalist, and altogether more statesmanlike than his benighted compatriots. If only it were still the party of George W. Bush will be the lament. And it will make the party even more glad that its not.If we're fortunate enough to choose a solid conservative as our primary candidate, expect the lamestream media to begin touting the virtues of Duhbya.
Thanks for the thoughtful answer. I didn't read it that way. Especially when this follow on later in the article:
Even as he preaches the old-time religion, Perry in his protostump speech returns again and again to a highly practical theme: his success in fostering a pro-jobs environment in Texas.
Like I said, people don't want to be lectured about the 10th Amendment, they want solutions for their economic problems. These solutions do not have to be anti-10th Amendment, mind you, but normal people do not respond to academic arguments.
I think the case can certainly be made. My point was that normal, everyday people want to hear about normal everyday things. You can use these to teach principles, like the 10th amendment. But you don't attract a large following just by preaching to the choir.
Ever heard that the best way to learn something is when you are so into it that you don't realize you're learning?
Good luck with that. Preaching to the choir doesn’t win elections. You need to broaden your appeal by appealing to normal people.
That’s not to say give up your principles. Don’t get confused. It means talk about real world things letting your principles animate your words. Don’t just preach the doctrines or regard them as a panacea.
If the American people understood or demanded a 10th amendment style gov’t they would have one. We have to lead by example to get there.
Rick Perry talks a good game, but he governs like a RINO.
“Ever heard that the best way to learn something is when you are so into it that you don’t realize you’re learning?”
I think a lot of people are currently learning how much they hate Obamanomics.