J Walking

J Walking


The Compassionate Conservative He Might Have Been

posted by J-Walking

I watch and listen to President Bush of late and am thrilled at the compassionate conservative he is again. On immigration he has worked out a bill that to fix a broken immigration system by granting a path to citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants who deserve to have a the chance for citizenship. On Darfur, he has finally rolled out “Plan B” – a set of sanctions aimed at halting the on-going genocide. And on AIDS in Africa, President Bush announced an additional $30 billion to fight the disease and save lives.

Yes, there are problems with each of these items. On immigration, not enough attention has been paid to family reunification. On Darfur, the announcements should have come far earlier and should have carried more weight. On AIDS, the funding doesn’t begin until after he leaves office.

But the fact is that Bush, who began his campaign for president in 1999 by claiming he was a completely different kind of conservative, is beginning to look like the president he promised he would be – a president willing to take on his own party to lead them down a path of conscience-based conservatism; a president willing to use our government’s resources to help alleviate great suffering; a president defined less by politics and more by compassion.

What makes this moment so tough to take, however, is that these are things he has done in just the past few weeks. It is hard not to fantasize about what the rest of the presidency might have looked like had this same compassion-based politics been at the philosophical center. Imagine, for instance, what would have happened with Katrina. Imagine the lives saved and city and region already rebuilt and bustling with life and energy. Imagine when it came to drug and alcohol treatment and cancer research and homelessness programs and charity tax credits and on and on what might have been. Imagine if you will how different things in Iraq might look right now and the lives not lost. Still, I am deeply thankful that at the end of his days in the White House, he seems to be remembering what he promised he would do in his first days.

What a president he might have been.



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Tom

posted May 31, 2007 at 6:07 am


LOL! Is Bush YOUR daddy, David? Please, my brother.



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Shannon

posted May 31, 2007 at 2:31 pm


So….David do you see any of the current GOP presidential candidates who can be the ACTUAL compassionate conservative that Bush “talked” about? I am looking forward to a blog post on that.



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PatientWitness

posted May 31, 2007 at 6:59 pm


I suppose that if you’re starving, a bad meal is getter than no meal at all. I predict we may see even more from the man who might have been what he promised during his campaigns, but only because he now hopes to salvage some positive legacy from his disastrous terms in office. I watched Bush while he was governor of Texas and never once got the impression he was compassionate; indeed, quite the opposite. His mocking of Karla Faye Tucker before her execution comes to mind. But then, David did actually work with the man, and he thinks there is some sense of compassion within him. We’ll see what the next 18 months will bring.



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Susie

posted May 31, 2007 at 7:55 pm


Sorry David I can’t get to the same level of hope that you have. I see this as a PR ploy to pander to the people right/left who are now rejecting him whole heartedly.Where is the love?



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Trish Ryan

posted May 31, 2007 at 7:55 pm


I can’t help but wonder, though, if part of this new trend isn’t the result of the changes on the Hill more than the true George W. finally emerging. Still, it’s nice to hear some good news from Washington :)



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Doug

posted May 31, 2007 at 8:00 pm


You know, he had another moment like this, I think in ’05 when he was right on immigration and the port sales and some other issue that eludes me at the moment. Ideologically he has had his moments.I wonder, though, if the same incompetence that’s marked everything else he’s done would have gotten in the way even if he had spent his two terms as the president he promised to be. I never believed that a lack of compassion was behind the failure to respond to Katrina. My sense of him is that its always been his lack of judgement, lack of humility and lack of preparation that have made his presidency a catastrophe. You are right to wish him well, though, on immigration, Darfur and AIDS. I certainly will add my prayers for an unexpected outcome.



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Jillian

posted May 31, 2007 at 9:48 pm


Funny how Mr. Bush seems to need a Democratic Congress to be compassionate…. I remember Arthur Schlessinger’s response when asked what ‘compassionate conservatism’ meant in 2000 or 2001- “It’s an admission that conservatism is inherently not compassionate.” There’s a compelling expose of Marvin Olasky, the originator of ‘compassionate conservatism’, in Joan Didion’s November 2, 2000 essay in the New York Review of Books on ‘compassionate conservatism’, ‘God’s Country’.



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Lonnie

posted June 1, 2007 at 8:03 am


“Conpassionate conseratism” is another word for “Partiallty”. “Just us and no more”.



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Unsympathetic reader

posted June 1, 2007 at 5:32 pm


I’m happy with the gesture. The big question: This time, will he actually release the money he promised?



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PatientWitness

posted June 1, 2007 at 6:10 pm


That’s another thing which is so despicable about Bush’s announcements – there is no real cost to him. AIDS relief won’t start until after Bush is gone so he doesn’t have to worry about where that money comes from. Sanctions cost nothing. The immigration bill is nothing more than a way for Bush’s business lobby to continue to have a source of cheap labor, and to collect exorbitant fees from the poor workers for the privilege of working here. Imagine a family living and working here unlawfully. As I understand the bill as written, in order to make themselves legal, verbiage which I find abhorrent BTW, they must return to their home country, pay $5000 each, apply to be admitted, then make their way back here again. And then repeat that process every 3 years! How many laborers can come up with that kind of money? And what of their US-born children — children who actually are US citizens? No, the bill isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on….



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cs

posted June 1, 2007 at 10:53 pm


“AIDS relief won’t start until after Bush is gone….” Please look at the PEPFAR website. According to this source, U.S. global AIDS spending was 2.3 billion in FY 2004, 2.7 in FY 2005, 3.3 in 2006, and 4.6 billion for FY 2007. We can debate whether it should be more (and Bush has pushed for more in the rest of his term and beyond), but this looks like almost 13 billion dollars to me, with a year or so to go in Bush’s administration (don’t remember the cutoff for the fiscal year right now.)



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PatientWitness

posted June 2, 2007 at 12:45 am


Hi cs, Good to see you here again. Your remark reminds me of a previous discussion we had. $3 billion out of a budget of $3 trillion is rather small. And that budget number excludes the cost of the war, estimated to be $2 billion per WEEK! Priorities….



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Jillian

posted June 2, 2007 at 12:55 am


I haven’t looked it up, but I’ve heard it said that the money for AIDS was largely cut out for programs to fight other diseases in Africa. I guess Bill Gates took over some of the slack on malaria to much publicity mongering, but it hasn’t produced a corresponding amount of progress. As in 95% of privatizations.



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cs

posted June 2, 2007 at 1:04 am


I don’t dispute the money is a small part of the total budget. I do dispute your original statement that the funding for AIDS relief was timed for after Bush left office, simply because that statement is clearly false.



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cs

posted June 2, 2007 at 1:04 am


Jillian, I would advise you to look it up before repeating it.



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PatientWitness

posted June 2, 2007 at 3:47 am


Ah, cs, still the Bush apologist? His funding request for $30B for AIDS would start fiscal 2009 and run through fiscal 2013. Unless Bush plans a coup d’etat, he will be out of office before fiscal 2009 begins. His proposed cuts include the following: $36B in spending reductions for Medicare $12B in spending reductions for Medicaid $3.5B cut in spending for the Dept. of Education $367M cut in funding for the Centers for Disease Control $300M spending cut for the EPA $252M cut in funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration (source NPR) I see nothing in the budget for funding any other medical work in Africa, though his AIDS fighting plan does include abstinence education and forbids condom distribution.



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Waterboy

posted June 2, 2007 at 5:26 am


Right on, David, but we have to remember that he’s only a man.



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