Remember 'Compassionate Conservatism'?

When history looks back at the disgrace of the Bush presidency, the one celebrated quote that will help capture much of what went wrong will be John DiIulio’s. It was DiIulio, the first director of the president’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, who told Ron Suskind, “What you’ve got is everything — and I mean everything — being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.”

DiIulio was taken in by a bogus pitch in 2000. He notes today in the Philadelphia Inquirer that it was eight years ago this week that Bush delivered his first campaign speech, which DiIulio helped write, titled “The Duty of Hope.” Candidate Bush rejected as “destructive” the idea that “if only government would get out of the way, all our problems would be solved.” Rather, “from North Central Philadelphia to South Central Los Angeles,” government “must act in the common good, and that good is not common until it is shared by those in need.” There are “some things the government should be doing, like Medicaid for poor children.”

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s rather difficult not to laugh.

DiIulio pauses to take stock of what happened to “compassionate conservatism.” He's not impressed.


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