09/08/2005: Gem o'the Day:
We Have a Loser: Earlier this week, neo-con Bill Kristol told the Washington Post that almost every Republican he had spoken to was disappointed in Bush's performance. By evoking broad disdain for the administration's response from Republicans and Democrats alike, Bush has finally kept his promise to be a uniter, not a divider.
Usually, the blame game is a loser for both parties. However, when Republicans and Democrats can make common cause against a common enemy, like the federal government or hapless FEMA Director Michael Brown, there is more than enough blame game to go around.
Among the many illusions that washed away over the past week is one that was particularly precious to Bush: the long-lost and perhaps now never-to-be-seen-again political philosophy of compassionate conservatism.
For close political observers, this is hardly news. As a movement, compassionate conservatism always seemed like a leap of faith by an awfully small group of true believers, such as Bush's longtime speechwriter Michael Gerson and his first choice to head the faith-based initiative, Prof. John DiIulio.
DiIulio quit in late 2002, telling Esquire that the Bush White House cared only about politics, not policy. "There is a virtual absence as yet of any policy accomplishments that might, to a fair-minded non-partisan, count as the flesh on the bones of so-called compassionate conservatism," he said. Gerson still believes, but now he's stuck working on domestic policy for a White House that tries not to have one.
As an agenda, compassionate conservatism died by Bush's own hand in May 2001, when the president called for a new war on poverty the same week he threatened the Senate he would veto anything less than his full tax cut. If LBJ's war on poverty came to an unsatisfactory, Vietnam-like conclusion, Bush's war on poverty was a Bay of Pigs fiasco: Poverty won, the battle was lost before most knew it had started, and many Republicans swore to themselves they'd never get involved in an endeavor like that again.
Len on 09.08.05 @ 07:59 AM CST