The Muddle in the Middle

Bush's budget reveals the true meaning of compassionate conservatism

More than three years have passed since George W. Bush started calling himself a "compassionate conservative," yet even now you could be forgiven for wondering what the phrase means. Last week the President delivered as thorough an answer as we are likely to get: a federal budget as thick and implacable as a tombstone. Bush's budget illustrates why compassionate conservatism, as a practical governing philosophy, is doomed. The first half of the phrase cancels out the second--or maybe it's the other way around. In any case, Bush finds himself in a muddle--too timid to admit his conservative impulses, too conservative to...

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