Friday, June 16, 2006

A Compassionate Conservative

The Moose congratulates a good man for a job well done.

One of the most decent and talented individuals that the Moose has worked with in politics has been Mike Gerson, the President's former speech writer who is leaving the White House. Mike walked the walk as well as talked the talk. He took his faith seriously and it animated his dealings with others.

Compassionate conservatism is more than a catchy phrase with Mike. It is apparent that he feels it in his bones. They are not mere words. And because it is a cause with him, it fuels his eloquence.

The Washington Post on Gerson,

"He was a formulator of the Bush doctrine making the spread of democracy the fundamental goal of U.S. foreign policy, a policy hailed as revolutionary by some and criticized as unrealistic by others. He led a personal crusade to make unprecedented multibillion-dollar investments in fighting AIDS, malaria and poverty around the globe. He became one of the few voices pressing for a more aggressive policy to stop genocide in Darfur, even as critics complained of U.S. inaction."

The Moose has experienced both the left and the right. Neither side has a monopoly on good or ill will. What is important is that decency prevails. Partisanship is healthy. The politics of destruction is not. What is striking is how similar the left of today is to the right of the nineties in their scorn for the President. Then, the right raged against the intervention in Kosovo as the left is currently in a fury over Iraq. Both were just interventions, but partisanship comes before reason.

Both parties are currently engaged in a rush to the bottom. The GOP is forsaking Reaganism in an immigrant-bashing fury that suggests that the main battle is with Mexico rather than Jihadism. And the Democrats are in a full-throated nihilistic anti-Bush fury as they lurch to the left led by the wing fringe of the blogosphere.

Unfortunately, the vision of compassionate conservatism was never realized. Tax cuts for the wealthy came before relief for the poor. As former Bush aide David Kuo wrote,

"[t]hey are a whisper of what was promised. Irony of ironies, it leaves the faith-based initiative specifically, and compassionate conservativism in general, at precisely the place Gov. Bush pledged it would not go; it has done the work of praising and informing but it has not been given "the resources to change lives." In short, like the hurting charities it is trying to help, the Initiative has been forced to "make bricks without straw."

Nonetheless, President Bush has been at his best when he articulated the words written by Mike Gerson. They were words that for a brief moment elevated our discourse and brought our nation together.

We need more of that in our politics. Thanks, Mike.
-- Posted at 6:59 AM | Link to this post | Email this post