August 3, 2006

The Limits of Compassionate Conservatism: A Problem of Message and Messenger

Carroll Andrew Morse

A professor by the name of Andrew E. Busch had an article in Tuesday’s OpinionJournal ostensibly about the failure of “compassionate conservatism”. But the article is as much about the Bush administration’s lack of effort in promoting its ideas as it is about the ideas themselves…

Mr. Bush has neglected the critical task--carried out by Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and Newt Gingrich--of advancing a public argument that connects his otherwise disparate policy decisions to a broader philosophical framework. He has failed to articulate the philosophical argument for limited government that once defined the Republican Party. At the same time he has failed to win broad acceptance for his alternative, so-called compassionate conservatism. To a large extent, he has abandoned the systematic promotion of public philosophy altogether.
Professor Busch also captures a sense of how the failure to articulate a domestic governing philosophy can lead to more pragmatic failures…
Compassionate conservatism has systematically pushed Mr. Bush toward deals in which he has gotten neither enough good policy nor enough political payoff to justify what he has had to surrender.
For those with a legitimate interest is the nature of conservatism, Professor Busch's article is a worthwhile read.