What “Compassionate Conservatism” Means

November 16, 2008

Frank Rich’s piece in the NY Times today brought my attention to this little incident from 4 years ago. From the LA Times:

“Quick. Before they take it down. Go to your computer, log on to http://www.georgewbush.com – the official Bush/Cheney ‘04 reelection website.

OK, now notice how running horizontally along the top there’s a row of file tabs: Economy, Compassion, Health Care, Education, Homeland Security and so forth.

So, hmmm: Compassion. What could that mean? What might that involve, thematically speaking? Click the tab, and there you are on the Compassion page.

Nice big picture of Bush merrily shooting the breeze with two black teenage girls. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll find a quadrant labeled Compassion Photos, with the invitation, “Click here for the Compassion Photo Album.” Do so.

And let’s see, what have we got? First one up: short-sleeved Bush, holding a black kid in his arms, a bleacher full of black kids behind him, and he’s merrily waving to the crowd. Click “next.” And it’s Bush at a Waco Habitat for Humanity building site, his arm draped around a black woman, his other hand tapping the shoulder of another of the black construction volunteers. Next: Bush waving to the Urban League. Next: Bush working a crowd, a black – or maybe, in this case, South Indian – kid prominently featured in the foreground, gazing on in amazement. Bush in an African thatch-roofed schoolroom.

It’s incredible: The guy is so compassionate. His wife too: She doesn’t seem to have any trouble reading to a bunch of kindergartners of color.

And now, there he is again, reading to a different roomful of black schoolchildren. It’s amazing – photo after photo, 19 in all, and almost every single one of them giving further testimony to the astonishing capaciousness of the guy’s Compassion, by which we are given to understand: He just has no trouble at all touching black people! Hammering with them, bagging groceries, tottering alongside them on weirdly high stools.

It’s like Ben Hur among the lepers – the guy doesn’t hesitate, he just goes and does it! Why, the Compassion page even includes a photo of him standing next to his own secretary of State, Colin Powell!”

Remember the break dancers and gospel singers they had at the 2000 RNC? There were about all of 2 black delegates in the audience. They truly are the White Party.


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