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Opening Arguments


Oh, for God's sake: Paul Ryan's Plan: Rebooting Compassionate Conservatism:

The ex-VP candidate has been touring the country has he formulates an anti-poverty plan Republicans can get behind. Now he’s unveiling some of the details.

[. . .]

Ron Haskins from Brookings paid Ryan the ultimate compliment, calling his proposal “worthy of a think tank.”  Almost everything in it has potential for bipartisan support, he enthused. “If we take the Senate, we can put something on the president’s desk.” Haskins is affiliated with the liberal Brookings Institution, but he worked on poverty issues in the Bush White House. Ryan grinned, “Thanks for saying ‘we,’ especially coming from Brookings.” It’s a pronoun that his proposal is meant to trigger more of.

Is "compassionate conservative" a redundancy or a tautology? I lean toward the latter since it is not merely superfluous but a repetition of ideas using different words. Conservatism is compassionate, because it encourages people to find solutions instead of just waiting around to be helped.

Ryan's plan has a lot of components, and they're certainly worth debating (although his "opportunity grants" sound an awful lot like block grants) and some of them could be effective. But if hey're going to start calling it "compassioante conservatism 2.0" or some such, it's doomed to failure. The Bush approach to that philosophy has set the political debate back decades.

Wanna play rhetorical poker? I'll see your "compassionate conservatism" and raise you one "thinking liberal."


Andrew j
Sat, 07/26/2014 - 10:30am

I love that definition for conservatism. It means not having to do anything to help those people just advice like pull yourself up by your bootstraps.lazy way of being compassionate. It means not having to actually do something to help those people. How charitable.