The Moose examines compassionate conservatism.
David Kuo, the former White House official, has created quite a stir with his new book complaining about the Bush Administration's weak commitment to compassionate conservatism. However, Kuo's "revelation" is not breaking news. A few years ago the faith based czar John DiIulio complained about the Mayberry Machiavellis in the White House who were not particularly serious about the initiative.
From the beginning of the Bush campaign in 2000, the Moose has always been skeptical about the Bushies' commitment to helping the poor. While he agrees with conservatives that faith-based organizations provide vital and effective services to the poor and should be part of a comprehensive approach to poverty, lending a helping hand to the underprivileged was never a priority of the Bushies.
The Moose has continually pointed out that when it comes down to a choice between comforting the poor or lending a helping hand to the donor class, the comfortable always triumph. If the Administration has a deep and abiding faith, it is theologically committed to redistributing wealth upward. It is the Bushies equivalent of the rapture.
The sacred sacrament for them was the elimination of the inheritance tax and rewarding the trust fund class. Of course, the inheritance tax also provides a great incentive to support charity - but that was not what the Bushies had in mind.
The problem of the compassionate conservative project was clear from the outset. You cannot help the poor when your major objective is making life and the tax code easier for the privileged.
Indeed, it would be a good thing if there was a genuine compassionate conservative effort. The left often overlooks the power of religious organizations in transforming lives. Militant secularists erect roadblocks to assisting these groups. But, religious conservatives should also challenge the economic priorities of the GOP.
The Moose would argue that it is perfectly consistent to be both pro-life and pro-universal health care. If one is concerned about the sanctity of marriage, epidemic divorce rates are a far greater threat than gay matrimony.
You cannot worship at the altar of eliminating the estate tax and still claim the mantle of compassionate conservatism. That was and is the central contradiction. --