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Saying Goodbye to Compassionate Conservatism

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Posted on Nov 18, 2010

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

Will the tea party sell out for a mess of pottage in the form of a ban on earmarks?

That’s one possibility. But another is that this embrace of a purely symbolic approach to deficit reduction is a sign that the tea party’s central goals may lie elsewhere—in an effort to push the Republican Party away from those aspects of George W. Bush’s legacy that tried to steer the conservative movement in a new direction. The real point may be to get the GOP to say goodbye to the idea of a compassionate conservatism and to Bush’s peculiar but real brand of multiculturalism.

It was entertaining to watch Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reluctantly capitulate to the tea party by supporting a two-year ban on requests for earmarks from his chamber’s Republicans.

McConnell knows perfectly well that ending earmarks will transfer more authority over spending to the executive branch while saving little, if any, money. Earmarks, after all, are nothing more than a legislative gimmick empowering individual senators and representatives to direct pieces of federal largesse toward their favorite projects.

The tea party talks a lot about “constitutionalism,” yet this move flies in the face of the Constitution’s clear preference for congressional control over spending. It’s odd to see so much energy devoted to securing a decision that actually gives more power to President Obama, the politician who inspires so much loathing in the tea party.

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But here’s a heretical thought: For many who have rallied to the tea party, the spending issue may be secondary. In the course of researching a paper on religion and the 2010 elections that my Brookings Institution colleague William Galston and I published on Wednesday, I ran across a remarkable essay by Gary Gerstle, a Vanderbilt University historian, in which he argues that Bush’s unique contribution to conservatism was the embrace of a “multiculturalism of the godly.”

Published in “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment” (Princeton, 2010), the essay sees Bush as attempting to offer “groups of minority voters reason to rethink their traditional hostility to the GOP.”

Gerstle notes that on “questions of immigration and diversity, Bush was worlds apart from Patrick Buchanan and the social-conservative wing of the Republican Party.” Bush “was comfortable with diversity, bilingualism, and cultural pluralism, as long as members of America’s ethnic and racial subcultures shared his patriotism, religious faith, and political conservatism.”

It is notable, Gerstle adds, that at “a time in which the United States was at war and Europe was exploding with tension and violence over Islam, Bush played a positive role in keeping interethnic and interracial relations in the United States relatively calm.”

Christopher Caldwell, a columnist for The Financial Times, was one of the first political writers to pick up on the significance of Gerstle’s essay. Caldwell, an American conservative, used it to critique Bush’s multicultural and compassion agenda and to explain the tea party’s rise. Intriguingly, he suggests that “many of the tea party’s gripes about President Barack Obama can also be laid at the door of Mr. Bush.”

For example, the main effect of Bush’s faith-based initiative, in Caldwell’s view, was to funnel “a lot of federal money to urban welfare and substance abuse programs.” The No Child Left Behind Act, which “meant to improve educational outcomes for minorities, did so at the price of centralizing authority in Washington.” And of course, there was Bush’s 2007 immigration reform proposal, “the clearest sign that he was losing the ear of his party.”

I don’t share Caldwell’s substantive take on these issues—in particular, the problem with Bush’s domestic compassion agenda was how little money he put behind it—but the column is a shrewd reflection on some of the central sources of tea party discontent.

For liberals, the publication of Bush’s memoirs has largely been an occasion for revisiting all the areas in which they rate his presidency a catastrophic failure: the rush to war in Iraq, torture, tax cuts for the rich, the response to Hurricane Katrina. It’s hard for liberals (believe me, I know) to fathom that there are any parts of the Bush legacy we might miss.

But imagine if the main result of the tea party is a “correction” of the Bush creed involving a move away from its most open and tolerant features and a rebellion against even the idea that compassion is a legitimate object of public policy. A conservatism that abandons the redeeming side of Bushism will not be an improvement on the old model.
   
E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group


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By ardee, November 30, 2010 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, November 20 at 2:55 pm

While I get this vivid mental image of your worrying over the principles of conservatism, which, by the by, was the thrust of my argument, like my dog worries over an old slipper here is a rather easily understood precis concerning conservatism:

http://www.kirkcenter.org/kirk/ten-principles.html

Fetch, Rover…...

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By Sabagio, November 29, 2010 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment

More thoughts on “compassionate conservatism’’  can be found in the dogma, philosophy, theology, ideology and manifestos of The Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, American slave holders, 19th Century Colonialism and The White Man’s Burden,  Fascism, Nazism,  Marxist/Leninism, American Indian Reservations created after the “peace for all times treaties beginning with Squanto,” Joe McCarthy and the UnAmerican Activities Committee of Congress, Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority, George Bush and the Faith Based Initiatives federal grants and aid, …were all about maintaining the status quo, protecting values and ways of life, saving souls and burning books and Beatles and Elvis recordings, cutting off the long hair of the social deviants,  protecting us from Evil ,Jews, Muslims, heathens, pagans, dark skinned peoples from everywhere,  Gays, Lesbians, transsexuals, transgenders, bisexuals , heterosexuals cohabiting without benefit of clergy, people from the North, people from the South and their Way of Life,  ….all these things and more were and are being done for our own good because we the people are incapable of making the right decisions about our own personal survival and welfare.

Sabagio Mauraeno

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By Inherit The Wind, November 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment

ANOTHER scumbag trying to sell his shit without paying Truthdig for the advertising!

Delete his sorry ass! Please!

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By double li, November 23, 2010 at 2:48 am Link to this comment

Hi, my friend I am sorry to disturb you.
please don’t delete my ipad mounting bracket, ipad usb charger and bluetooth wireless keyboard
Thank you very mach!!

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By Inherit The Wind, November 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment

When are they going to ban this Shuole character, trying to use every thread to steal free advertising?

Other advertisers PAY to sell their products here, and don’t do it in the threads.

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By gerard, November 20, 2010 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

Too bad the wrong people stole the right words - compassionate conservation - because that’s exactly what we all desperately need to employ as a modus operandi at all levels of our current perilous existence.

We need to conserve the planet—all resources, including energy.  We need to conserve humanity’s very existence, which means stopping wars and starting a recruitment of all the priorities of our “saving” abilities (including population control and nondiscriminatory distribution—that is, fair sharing of world resources.

All of this involves tremendous opportunities for manifold skills centered on a massively agreed-upon
agenda manifesting worldwide compassionate conservation of life, liberty and community.

One way to take the phrase back is to expand its meaning—and expand the kind of education and information-sharing that supports it.

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By JDmysticDJ, November 20, 2010 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

Ardee

Would you be willing to provide some specific examples of virtuous conservative policies, or individuals from U.S. History? Dispelling any misconceptions about the virtues of conservative policies and individuals would be mere child’s play, and would provide me with an amusing frivolous pastime.

For example, my personal favorite supposed conservative is Dwight David Eisenhower. Eisenhower may not be a good example because he was recruited by both Democrats and Republicans to be their candidate for election to President, and because Eisenhower was accused of being a communist by the most fundamental of conservatives. Eisenhower was opposed to reducing the 91% top marginal income tax rate that was fashionable during his day.

That being said, one only has to scratch the surface of the Eisenhower administration to discover the Plutocratic Dulles brothers. John Foster was appointed to the office of Secretary of State by Eisenhower. John Foster was the architect of the cold war, and all that that entailed. Allen was appointed to head the C.I.A. by Eisenhower. Does the name Arbenz ring a bell with you?

From Wikipedia:

“Colonel Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán (Spanish pronunciation: [xa?ko?o ?ar?enð ?uð?man]; September 14, 1913 – January 27, 1971) was a Guatemalan military officer and politician who served as Defense Minister of Guatemala from 1944–1951, and as President of Guatemala from 1951 to 1954.
He was ousted in a coup d’état engineered by the United States government and CIA, and was replaced by a military junta, headed by Colonel Carlos Castillo.”

What followed this ouster was 30 years of turmoil in Guatemala. The most authoritative sources attribute 200,000 murders to the military leaders of Guatemala.

How about the term “United Fruit,” does that ring familiar to you?

Again from Wikipedia:

“The United Fruit Company was a United States corporation that traded in tropical fruit (primarily bananas) grown on third world plantations and sold in the United States and Europe. The company was formed in 1899 from the merger of Minor C. Keith’s banana-The United Fruit Company was a United States corporation that traded in tropical fruit (primarily bananas) grown on third world plantations and sold in the United States and Europe…”

“…It [United Fruit] had a deep and long-lasting impact on the economic and political development of several Latin American countries. Critics often accused it of exploitative neocolonialism and described it as the archetypal example of the influence of a multinational corporation on the internal politics of the so-called “banana republics…”

“UFCO [United Fruit] was being threatened by the Arbenz government’s agrarian reform legislation and new Labor Code.[7] UFCO was the largest Guatemalan landowner and employer, and the Arbenz government’s land reform included the expropriation of 40% of UFCO land.[8] U.S. officials had little proof to back their claims of a growing communist threat in Guatemala,[9] however the relationship between the Eisenhower administration and UFCO demonstrated the influence of corporate interest on U.S. foreign policy.[6] The American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was an avowed opponent of Communism whose law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell[10] had represented United Fruit. His brother Allen Dulles was the director of the CIA, and was a board member of United Fruit. United Fruit Company is the only company known to have a CIA cryptonym. The brother of the Assistant Secretary of State for InterAmerican Affairs John Moors Cabot had once been president of United Fruit. Ed Whitman who was United Fruit’s principal lobbyist was married to President Eisenhower’s personal secretary, Ann C. Whitman.[10] Many individuals who directly influenced U.S. policy towards Guatemala in the 1950s also had direct ties to UFCO.[7]”

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By JDmysticDJ, November 20, 2010 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

Ardee (Cont.)

Oh well, it seems that many of our idols had feet of clay, and those idols were easily toppled by historical facts.

I’ll concede that conservatives are not totally devoid all virtue, but I’ll argue that any virtues conservatives have/had are/were heavily outweighed by their overriding general lack of virtue.

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By Ouroborus, November 20, 2010 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

By ardee, November 19 at 11:54 pm
My, such harsh words for conservatism. From folks I
suspect haven’t a clue as to what that political belief
system entails and wrongly conflate it with the current
crop of phony conservatives.
===================================
Nice one and so true. Cheers.

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By ardee, November 19, 2010 at 6:54 pm Link to this comment

My, such harsh words for conservatism. From folks I suspect haven’t a clue as to what that political belief system entails and wrongly conflate it with the current crop of phony conservatives.

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By JDmysticDJ, November 19, 2010 at 6:52 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind

I appreciate your comment, thanks for being rational.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Thanks to economic and foreign policy conditions that have resulted from right-wing lunacy:  the magnitude of well funded right-wing false propaganda, the Main Stream Media outlets’ failure to fulfill their role as the Fifth Estate (Under the guise of objectivity,) and because of idiotic Tea Party activism, our political life has been become totally irrational and chaotic. The American people are angry but, other than being angry at Wall Street, they don’t know who to be angry at. Many don’t know who the sycophants for Wall Street are, and the Republicans have disingenuously attempted to mask the fact they are, and have been Wall Street’s sycophants since before the Great Depression, and that the exact same tax policies and Wall Street recklessness that we have experienced, led to the Great Depression.

I know people don’t like historical analogies, but conditions in our country today are very similar, but not yet as extreme, as were the conditions in the Weimar Republic before the rise of the Third Reich. Legitimate charges of racism are rebutted by the Right with charges that the victims are the actual culprits, and rather than alleviating current conditions, the Right is bound and determined to perpetuate, even to further deteriorate, current conditions.

Illustrating the irrationality, I’ll point to Rigor’s comment, “THERES NO COMPASSION IN POLITICS! LEFT - RIGHT - HIPPIE OR SUIT, IT DOESN’T MATTER!” There may not be the compassion Rigor desires, but clearly one side of the political spectrum is more compassionate than the other. Rigor’s comment is devoid of acuity, and derived from nothing but irrational, counter productive anger. Like a hysterical panicked mob, many focus their anger on those who are trying to help them, and not those who created the conditions that they suffer from.

I could write volumes on how extremely dissatisfied I am with the wrong headed actions of the current Center/Right politicians who dominate our political life, but surely all the misdirected anger, so evident from some, can only serve and clearly has served the interests of the Right, and has moved us closer to a neo-fascism. As I’ve argued before, I believe that we are already a proto-fascist state, and that a concerted effort to move to the left, and a return to more rational policies is necessary before further advances can be achieved and fascist realities can be overcome.

Politics is “The art of the possible,” and politics does “…make for strange bed fellows,” in order to defeat the Right, elements of the Left and Center need to form a coalition, and create a consensus, not form a circular firing squad.

We need to use reason, logic, example, activism, or organized rebellion, but not resort to unreasonable, self destructive, and futile anger that will effectively destroy any possibility of achieving avowed goals.

Dionne may not be Martin Luther King, or Ghandi, but he’s on the side of the Left, and that’s good enough for me. Hedges, on the other hand, provides a clear accounting of the problems and dangers that confront us, in doing so he is providing a valuable service, but with his false and divisive attributions of guilt directed at Liberals he is an obstacle to necessary consensus building. In doing so he, along with others, is providing a counter productive disservice. When Chomsky correctly points out the failures of the “Liberal Class” he is attempting to be therapeutic, and not suggesting that we abandon Liberalism, or the ideals associated with Liberalism, but unfortunately, that is the message that many take away from Hedges’ condemnations.

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By felicity, November 19, 2010 at 11:32 am Link to this comment

Ah yes, compassionate conservatism.  Robespierre
defined it well when he justified the Reign of Terror
in France.  “Out of pity and love of humanity, you must
be inhuman.” 

(Mr. Cheney ‘elaborated’ on the murderous Robespierre’s
‘justification’ when his answer to torture was,
“Sometimes you have to work the ‘hard’ stuff.”)

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By tedmurphy41, November 19, 2010 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

There is no such animal.
To be a Conservative, you need the principles of the gutter, to be purely selfish and self-centred; the “compassion” comes in when there is pity, by these same individuals, about the plight of the poor, the poor being the result of their original Conservative policies.

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By Rigor, November 19, 2010 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

Compassion?
Your kidding, right?

THERES NO COMPASSION IN POLITICS! LEFT - RIGHT -
HIPPIE OR SUIT, IT DOESN’T MATTER!

NOTHING IS DONE IN GOVNT. UNLESS THERES AN ADVANTAGE
TO BE HAD, AND IF IT RESEMBLES SOMETHING WARM &
FUZZY ALL THE BETTER TO GREASE THE WHEELS.

As for ending the earmarks to cut spending = this is
under the premise that there are ETHICAL people in
charge…. what a crock of shite!

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By Inherit The Wind, November 19, 2010 at 7:36 am Link to this comment

I’m sick of trying to reason with the irrational and counter productive.
***********

I know what you mean!  And it always starts with absurd, false premises….“We do not need a government that is “compassionate”
because that has just led to the huge array of
entitlement programs that represent the majority of
Federal spending.

This is what the Teaparty believes, just like it believes ending earmarks will make a difference. It’s also false.  Of ALL the military spending in the world, something like 45% (not sure of the exact number) is spent by the United States.  And for what?  $1.3 trillion poured down the drain in Central Asia.

So they’ll cite “Social Security”, which is self-funding and has prevented America from having millions of seniors dying in the streets, homeless.

But irrationality starts by the defense of false facts.

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By JDmysticDJ, November 18, 2010 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

BarbieQue says:

“Everything stated in that paragraph is true. Deal with it, or pretend it’s not true. Your choice.”

The paragraph in question:

“Because “Liberals” are proud of the escalation of the war in Af/Pak, the continued torture, the extension of tax cuts for the rich, and they are proud of the administrations “performance” RE: the gulf oil spill…”

Saying Liberals are “proud” of the above, is a simple minded distortion, and the product of a limited,angry, and irrational mind.

Most would say Max Baucus is a Senate version of a “Blue Dog Democrat” not many, with the exception of distortionists, would claim he is a Liberal.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“The Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, commonly known as the Blue Dog Democrats, is a group of United States Congressional Representatives from the Democratic Party who identify themselves as moderate or conservative and favor “compromise and bipartisanship over ideology and party discipline.”[1]

“Some in the Democratic Party’s liberal wing promote primary challenges against Blue Dog Coalition members in an effort to unseat Democratic Party members they view as unreliable or too conservative.[

You should blame the voters in Montana, not Liberals for Max Baucus, they have re-elected him five times, and because of that he is head of the Senate Finance Committee.“


“As Senator Baucus spoke, a group of about thirty nurses stood up and turned their backs on him. They wore red scrubs with signs on their backs that said, “Nurses Say: Stop AHIP, Pass Single Payer.” AHIP stands for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobby group for the health insurance industry. After standing for a few minutes in silent protest, the nurses walked out of the hearing to applause.”

I’ll suppose that the applause was mixed, some glad to see them leave, and some applauding in approval. Those applauding in approval were, are you ready for this, “Liberals,” as were the protestors themselves.

“SEN. MAX BAUCUS: I respect the views of everyone here, including everyone in the audience. And that respect, in turn, means listening and not interrupting when others are speaking. I sincerely hope that everyone here today, including our guests, especially guests in the audience, will afford these proceedings with that level of respect.”

“After the nurses walked out, a group of five doctors, nurses and single-payer advocates stood up one by one and spoke directly to Senator Baucus before being led out by police.”

Max Baucus had them arrested. It was a noble protest, by “Liberals,” the results of which were expected.

You Continue:

“Now, if you were a real liberal as you state, is that not enough to sicken you and make you realize that they are complete and total sellouts?”

I stated I was a Democratic Socialist who considers “’Liberals’ to be my allies in many respects.” There is much to be sickened about, and this event was one of them, defining who the “sellouts” are would necessitate identifying those who sold out, for who they are, and those who elected them. To you, the sellouts are those who accepted something instead of nothing.

I don’t wish to be let in on any of your secrets; I don’t value your phantasmagorical prognostications about what would have been. What happened, happened, and there is nothing that could have been done to stop it under the realities of Senate rules, with too many non Liberals holding office in the Senate.

Without mandates, a young person could go for decades without contributing, until health coverage became a necessity; effectively bankrupting the system and busting the budget, Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could collect Social Security without contributing? It really would be, but it is not possible under current realities.

I’m out of characters, there’s more to be said, but I’m sick of trying to reason with the irrational and counter productive.

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By Jimnp72, November 18, 2010 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment

I dont understand this article. What comapassion did W ever show. Was it to all of
the prisoners he had executed while he was governor of Texas? was it to the
working poor of this country? was it to openess in governance? was it to the rule
of law. how about the dead Iraqi and Afghan civilians? to our soldiers as he did not
attend single funeral

nah to all of the above and a whole lot more

he should be behind bars then he can show all the compassion he has, which is
zero.

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By kws, November 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We do not need a government that is “compassionate”
because that has just led to the huge array of
entitlement programs that represent the majority of
Federal spending.  We need a government that’s an
asshole: one that sticks to the enumerated powers for
each branch as defined by the US Constitution no matter what whiners are crying about.  One
that is more concerned about regulation for the
purposes of eliminating fraud and making sure that
businesses do not trample on the rights of people
(and vice versa) than it is about making things
“fair”.  One that is a stingy SOB that doesn’t spend
a dime on any public programs unless it benefits the
entire nation instead of one that spends foolishly on
all forms of social engineering for targeted groups (especially if it doesn’t work and just makes them dependent on government). 
Uncle Sam isn’t supposed to be your nanny.  If you
want one, talk to your state legislators.

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By knute, November 18, 2010 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

thanks Barbeque,
There is a pretty short attention span out there in dumbfuckistan. And there’s alot of folks that still refuse to accept how little difference there is between the two parties in Congress. Alot who after the earlier administration thought that surely Obama was gonna make some serious changes for the better rather then just one by one continue in the same direction. I’ve long agreed with the presumption that politics is only the entertainment branch of industry. Those that look to our “elected leaders” in this 2 - party system we currently have are simply in denial.

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By BarbieQue, November 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, November 18 at 4:07 pm:

“You on the other hand, drone on and on in order to get to your last paragraph:”

Everything stated in that paragraph is true. Deal with it, or pretend it’s not true. Your choice.

And while I’m at it, I’d like to add one more thing:

This 2010 version of the (D)emocratic party is so thoroughly corrupt and twisted that

THEY ARRESTED DOCTORS AND NURSES THAT CAME TO A HEARING TO ADVOCATE SINGLE PAYER HEALTH CARE.

I am going to say that again because so many are in complete denial.

THEY ARRESTED DOCTORS AND NURSES THAT CAME TO A HEARING TO ADVOCATE SINGLE PAYER HEALTH CARE.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090513_baucus_raucous_caucus/

Now, if you were a real liberal as you state, is that not enough to sicken you and make you realize that they are complete and total sellouts? I am going to let you in on a little secret: If the (R)epublicans had done that Real Liberals would have called for marches, demonstrations, civil disobedience and more. But since their team screwed the pooch, they pretend it didn’t happen. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

Barack campaigned against mandates and then either quit lying or turned on a dime. And put a leech and a thug in charge of “Health Insurance Reform”. I can’t wait till the uninformed realize that these sleaze bags have forced them to buy defective products from for profit companies. Unless they’re totally numb, the backlash will be fun to watch.

Party of the people, yup. These days it’s Party On the People. And throw them under the bus.

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By Sabagio, November 18, 2010 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment

Saying Goodbye to Compassionate Conservatism
has been a Long Goodbye lasting almost 50 years.

That stated I am surprised many times over that revelations offered here are viewed by the Writer from Brookings as ...New.

My first surprise: A journalist referencing a professional historian.

My second surprise: That no mention is made of Barry Goldwater and the Goldwaterites at the Republican National Convention of 1964 booing Jacob Javitts and Nelson Rockefeller off the stage, compassionate men and classical conservatives. (I hate ideological labels and labeling. I find them lazy arguments made by shallow thinkers.)

My third surprise: Giving George W. Bush credit for being an original thinker. A political opportunist and mouthpiece for unseen puppet masters in the mold of Ronald Reagan, the backslid New Deal Democrat ,would be closer to the real person.

My forth surprise: The thought stuck in my thinking of The Ghost of Richard Nixon and his progressive Republicanism becoming fond memories of lost opportunities.

Sabagio Mauraeno…

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By who'syourdebs, November 18, 2010 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

I agree with E.J. often, but he’s off-the-wall on this one. Bush, Cheney, and the other neo-cons are stone-cold liars from the get-go. Bush may have been trying to prevent lynchings of Middle Eastern-looking citizens in the streets, while he whisked members of the Saudi royal family out of the US after 9/11, while all other flights were grounded, but that doesn’t mean he’s not racist and xenophobic. Lying is second nature to him, his family, his political party, and his privileged economic class. Besides, he probably never wrote a speech in his life, as his ad-libbed remarks always reveal. Just another lie from the top 2% and their folksy puppet. The wars he started in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven his carelessness with the lives of other ethnic and religious groups, not to mention his own. It’s a laugh, but a bitter one.

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By knute, November 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There never were any compassionate conservatives. That was another political pile of BS dreamed up for G. Bush Sr. to supposedly make him contrast from the years of Saint Reagan when he & Ron tossed the patients out of mental institutions onto the streets making the homelessness a part of every american city. In reality Bush Sr. had no more compassion in him, probably much less. We saw how much compassion they taught his son during Katrina didn’t we. We saw how much compassion Bush Sr. had in murdering tens of thousands of Iraqis in full retreat from Kuwait during desert storm ( a war crime in itself )..But Obama has decided to bestow the medal of Freedom on the old man next year in order to garner favor with the repug.s in Congress. I suppose we should give Bush Jr. the nobel prize for economics next ? We don’t demand credibility from our “elected” leaders these days. I guess this must be “trickle-down” praise ? But maybe it does make sense. The Bush family has done more to free us from the concerns of the american dream then any other political dynasty.

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By gerard, November 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment

Regarding compassion—since when has compassiong ever been considered by Republicans (and some Democrats) as anything other than a government give-away to people who don’t “deserve” it?
  And regarding Democrats:  How much skin have they lost off their teeth actually promoting compassion?
(If you’re feeling defensive, take a minute to remember that Democrats are still promoting these
miserable evil wars in the Middle East and buttering the bread of the military -industrial complexities.)
  Next question:  How come Republicans (or anyone else for that matter) think they “deserve” to decide who “deserves” to eat, and get good medical attention, and have equal rights?  What is
“compassionate conservatism” anyway, except a sop to the consciences of niggards, if and when they happen to judge themselves on their Christian credentials and find themselves flunking the test?

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By DavidByron, November 18, 2010 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

tat_moh “i’d like to see a liberal
working in a soup kitchen and helping the homeless,
instead of seeing evangelicals do it”

Evangelicals love the poor and homeless so much they make sure there are millions and millions of them.  And then they humiliate them by forcing them to go through their religious crap after they’ve forced them into poverty and hunger.

That’s US “Christians” btw.  Christians in other countries are not such evil assholes.

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By DavidByron, November 18, 2010 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

Like Bush himself, Americans hate hate HATE to think that they might be racist.  As a defence against this there is little more they love than to pretend that Europe is racist like they are - or worse.  it’s an extremely common Americanism and in fact I can’t recall ever seeing an American except Howard Zinn admit America is more racist than other countries.

“a time in which the United States was at war and Europe was exploding with tension and violence over Islam, Bush played a positive role in keeping interethnic and interracial relations in the United States relatively calm.”

Europe was “exploding with violence”

The US was of course literally exploding bombs in a race war in Iraq and murdering millions of people along racial lines.  The most violent and racist thing you could say about Europe at the time was that many European countries were successfully pressured into supporting in small ways, the US race war.

But to E.J.Dionne, oh gosh no, Europe was far more racist!  USA!  USA!  USA!  We’re number one!

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By JDmysticDJ, November 18, 2010 at 11:07 am Link to this comment

BarbieQue

EJ DroneOnandOn is “clever” word play. Is it original?

Seeing as how E. J. is ensconced in the Main Stream Media, and the Beltway, I’ll suggest that he is conditioned to being “slow,” but I personally believe his inclinations are good.

Using words like Liberal and Conservative can lead to misunderstandings because the definitions of those words can have different interpretations and meanings. For example, the Right, and some on the Left, have been very successful at turning the word “Liberal” into a pejorative. While many on the Left, my self included, sometimes use the word Conservative as an indication of a person who proposes policies that lack compassion.

E.J. does drone on and on in order to get to his last paragraph:

“But imagine if the main result of the tea party is a “correction” of the Bush creed involving a move away from its most open and tolerant features and a rebellion against even the idea that compassion is a legitimate object of public policy. A conservatism that abandons the redeeming side of Bushism will not be an improvement on the old model.”

I personally believe that this paragraph is much too generous to Bush, but that it is cogent in respect to its analysis of Tea Partiers.

You on the other hand, drone on and on in order to get to your last paragraph:

“Because “Liberals” are proud of the escalation of the war in Af/Pak, the continued torture, the extension of tax cuts for the rich, and they are proud of the administrations “performance” RE: the gulf oil spill. I’m getting the feeling that it’s hard for EJ because he’s slow.”

“…if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people—their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties—someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a ‘Liberal.’”

John F.Kennedy used the above words at a Liberal Party convention; I’ll suggest that some at that convention believed that John F. Kennedy lacked sufficient Liberal credentials, and that many who define themselves as being Liberal today also believe that John F. Kennedy didn’t adequately demonstrate the qualities necessary to be considered “Liberal” by their standards, but that they ascribe to the above words as being an adequately descriptive definition of what it means to be a “Liberal.”

Your flagrant use of the word “Liberal” in a pejorative sense, and your gross distortion of “Liberal” endorsements and proclivities, e.g. “Because ‘Liberals’ are proud of the escalation of the war in Af/Pak, the continued torture, the extension of tax cuts for the rich, and they are proud of the administrations “performance” RE: the gulf oil spill.”

Is clearly Specious.

Random House definition of “Sophism”: “Clever but specious.”


I personally don’t define myself as a “Liberal,” but I do see “Liberals” as being my allies in many respects. I define myself as a Democratic Socialist, i.e. a person who advocates for democracy, and a person who advocates for Socialism. There is much intentionally created confusion and propaganda regarding what it means to be a Socialist. Some quite wrongly or ignorantly equate Socialism with the infamous National Socialism. The two philosophies have next to no similarities. I personally object to John F. Kennedy’s seemingly idealistic rhetoric when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, etc…” The most profound difference between National Socialism and Socialism is that National Socialists believe the people should serve the State, while Socialists believe the State should serve the people.

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By Paco, November 18, 2010 at 10:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Compassionate Conservatism?  Was there ever anything real in this phrase?  I think not - it was a campaign slogan and a somewhat effective one but it is an oxymoron.  Conservatives are never compassionate about anything but their own dogma.

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By FiftyGigs, November 18, 2010 at 8:57 am Link to this comment

Okay, progressives and conservatives. It’s time for you to put up or shut up.

The Democrats announced they will bring repeal of DADT to the floor of the Senate. This is it. This is what you say you want. This is what’s right, what’s good. A full, final, and solid solution to this matter. Beyond the courts, beyond executive whim.

Do you have the political acumen to provide the strategic support to the representatives advancing your cause?

I’m hopeful, but honestly, I’m hedging my bets.

Why?

Because on Day One, it’s appears progressives may do the stupid thing—advocate repeal as a civil rights issue. Do that, and there’s a good chance you’ll lose. People don’t want the military to be a laboratory for social experimentation.

DADT, and its concurrent homophobia, threatens national security. How? By potentially placing our military in situations where enemies could compromise them. Most importantly, an effective military force relies on honor and trust, and DADT forces troops to be dishonorable and distrustful.

It’s wrong morally, it destroys coherence, and it is harmful to our nation’s defense.

This isn’t a matter of whether “Dems have the guts”, because we all know they’ve had the guts for two years. They just haven’t had the votes.

Your President telegraphed this plan a long time ago, a smart plan that’s pulled in a lot of support from the bureaucracy. He’s laid the foundation for repeal, but the last step is demonstrated popular support.

So the question on the table is this: does a progressive community actually exist? Can it be an effective political force, honestly and sincerely advocating for the best interests of the military, or is it just a bunch of nihilists?

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By madisolation, November 18, 2010 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

Why do you look at the failure of the Republican Party to embrace conservatism and not the failure of the Democratic Party to embrace liberalism? It’s so much easier to point fingers than to address the fact that your own party has failed. Neither party is worth a bucket of warm spit, but the far right and the far left can find common ground in causes such as ending wars and upholding civil liberties and pushing back against Obama and the banks’ attempt to steal our Social Security. If we can get together on these issues, we’ll find most people in the so-called “center” (a media myth) feel the same way.
I wish these Cocktail Columnists would quit trying to divide and conquer just so they can share a glass of wine (funded by taxpayers) with corrupt politicians. Their thoughts aren’t worth a bucket of warm spit, either.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 18, 2010 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

Of all the criticisms you can lay on Bush’s doorstep, and they are numerous since he’s the worst president we ever had, the one accusation I can’t lay on him is racism or ethnic bias.  Kanye West said “Bush doesn’t care about Black people” and that was an indictment seen as an accusation of racism.  But Bush doesn’t care anymore about White people or Yellow people or Brown people than he does about Black people.

He’s equal-opportunity indifferent.  Bush cares about RICH people, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

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Tesla's avatar

By Tesla, November 18, 2010 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

Why does Truthdig publish this guy. His brand of
liberalism is to the right of Eisenhower. Pahleeeeze!

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Fat Freddy's avatar

By Fat Freddy, November 18, 2010 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

Everybody knew Bush was an alcoholic. They also knew that he received treatment from a faith-based program. So, when Bush proposed that federal money be used for faith-based addiction treatment programs, the liberals let it slide. Liberals have a problem with government money being used for anything that has to do with religion, but in this case, they made an exception. On the other side, conservatives have a problem with government money being used for any charity programs, but they let it slide, as well.

What I think, is meant by “Compassionate Conservative”, is government funding of private, charitable institutions, regardless of affiliation, instead of direct, government run, bureaucratic programs.

I just read in my local paper, today, that the Catholic Church will be providing “weekend food” for free and reduced lunch students. I wonder how many liberals would oppose giving government money to a religious organization for this purpose (not that they are asking for any).

http://www.thedailyjournal.com/article/20101118/NEWS01/11180326/Program-offers-Vineland-students-backpacks-with-weekend-food

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By BarbieQue, November 18, 2010 at 6:14 am Link to this comment

>>EJ DroneOnAndOn:“Will the tea party sell out for a mess of pottage in the form of a ban on earmarks?”

Has the (D)emocratic Party sold out their base for corporate contributions? Has EJ ever asked that?

>>EJ DroneOnAndOn:“But another is that this embrace of a purely symbolic approach to deficit reduction is a sign that the tea party’s central goals may lie elsewhere—in an effort to push the Republican Party away from those aspects of George W. Bush’s legacy that tried to steer the conservative movement in a new direction…”

Considering that George W. Bush was a (R)epublican in name only (RINO) (come on, no one that takes politics seriously ever considered GWB a “conservative”) perhaps the EJ’s of the Washington Beltway are actually afraid of principles. But, I doubt, at this point,that EJ knows what a “principle” is anymore.

>>EJ DroneOnAndOn:“Intriguingly, he suggests that “many of the tea party’s gripes about President Barack Obama can also be laid at the door of Mr. Bush.”

Apparently EJ is just catching on. Well, better late than never.

>>EJ DroneOnAndOn:“For liberals, the publication of Bush’s memoirs has largely been an occasion for revisiting all the areas in which they rate his presidency a catastrophic failure: the rush to war in Iraq, torture, tax cuts for the rich, the response to Hurricane Katrina. It’s hard for liberals (believe me, I know) to fathom that there are any parts of the Bush legacy we might miss.”<<

Because “Liberals” are proud of the escalation of the war in Af/Pak, the continued torture, the extension of tax cuts for the rich, and they are proud of the administrations “performance” RE: the gulf oil spill. I’m getting the feeling that it’s hard for EJ because he’s slow.

EJ DroneOnAndOn=Just Another Divider in a cesspool of nonsense

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By ardee, November 18, 2010 at 6:11 am Link to this comment

tat_moh, November 18 at 8:43 am

Do you really think posting absurdities makes you a political pundit? In a forum replete with silly commentary you might have just retired the trophy. Congratulations for saying nothing and destroying your own reputation in a short and, hopefully, final, effort.

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By Ouroborus, November 18, 2010 at 5:20 am Link to this comment

How can one say goodbye to something that never
existed? LOL. You funny man.
Compassion has been MIA for years in the U.S.
We’re in process to a rebirth of a very old system;
it’s now called “neo-serfdom” in recognition that this
is the 21st century and not the 9th. Cheers.

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By tat_moh, November 18, 2010 at 3:43 am Link to this comment

For the first time in my life,  i’d like to see a
compassionate liberal,  i’d like to see a liberal
working in a soup kitchen and helping the homeless, 
instead of seeing evangelicals do it.  I’d like to
see a liberal stop talking about helping people, and
actually help people.  I’d like to see a liberal stop
begging to make the USA a welfare state in order to
try to line their pockets with their neighbors’
paychecks.

I’d like liberals to stop lying to themselves, admit
they are socialists,  admit that they don’t give a
flying f^^^ about the poor,  and stop trying to pi&&
on each other’s legs and telling each other it’s
raining.

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By G.Anderson, November 18, 2010 at 2:50 am Link to this comment

This proves it… E.J. Dionne, Jr., is cognitively impaired…

President Bush’s compassionate conservative, you’ve got to be kidding me… I can understand how, some poor sod buster from the panhandle can believe in this, but few others…

Most people knew this was pure B.S., the first time it crossed their point of view…

it will go down along with, “the audacity of hope”
as just another campaign slogan, designed to fool people into kissing that same old pig one more time…

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