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Mean, But Compassionate; Al, Shhhhhhhh. No Really, Be Quiet. Shhhh.; It All Comes Together, I Think.; Score Another One For Starr


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Jonah Goldberg

MEAN, BUT COMPASSIONATE
I don’t much like the phrase “compassionate conservatism,” mostly because it does a disservice to both concepts. I’m sure lefties go through the roof when they hear conservatives refer to “smart liberals,” as if such terms are a novel juxtaposition. African-Americans, to be sure, bristle when they hear “law-abiding” and “blacks” strung together. I myself don’t mind the phrase “freespending athletic Jew”, but you get the point.

But for some reason compassionate and conservative work together like cream and coffee, one pleasantly diluting the other. Yes, Emerson commented that there is a certain meanness to conservatism coupled with a certain superiority of fact. But that alleged meanness is in the eye of a beholder who would also blame the concrete for not offering a nicer bounce after a twelve-story fall.

Conservatism has a tough task. It must champion the notion that government should champion very little, but what it does champion it must do jealously. A conservative government gives room for the society to fix itself, except in extreme circumstances, like slavery, war, giant-reptile invasions, cable-TV failures. If there is no dire emergency then the Federal Government should not mount any campaign to “raise awareness.” That means no task forces, no emergency commissions, no union-backed initiatives for “the children” which in reality are union-backed initiatives for unions. If a midnight-basketball program is working in Yata Hay Flats, Nebraska, the Senate need not pass a bill making more of them. Conservatives, and our allies in the United Federation of Planets, the Libertarians, believe that government burns off the oxygen for more worthy groups to solve problems. But it’s one thing for the Left to do the disservice to language and logic (The silver lining about Newt Gingrich stepping down is that we won’t have to hear such clever bon mots from Maxine Waters and Richard Gephardt about the “Gingrich who stole Christmas.”). It is quite another thing when conservatives sell the store on their own. George W. Bush is touting his new brand of “compassionate conservatism” in a very subtle political-marketing ploy — he says it every time you pull the string in his back. This begs some questions for one of his primary opponents to raise: Were conservatives too mean until he came along? And if so, who? What, specifically is a “mean” conservative policy that he would abolish?

AL, SHHHHHHHH. NO REALLY, BE QUIET. SHHHH.
Clearly “compassionate conservatism” is polling well because Al Gore is already attacking it two years before the Presidential campaign. I think Al Gore is a decent, relatively honest guy who must be going nuts in the broken-down trailer that is the Clinton White House. I also think he suffers from arrogance of intellect more than any politician around today. He believes he can put the country together the way he puts together his kids’ train set on Christmas morning — just read the instructions carefully and don’t let the children (Americans) interfere.

Gore addressed the Democratic Leadership Caucus the other day and blasted Bush’s cri de coeur, “Some now say that what we need is ‘compassionate conservatism.’ They call for opportunity, combined with responsibility.’’ And then in a sarcastic aside that HAL from 2001 could have gotten off with more effect: “Hmmmm, I wonder where that came from?” Get it? Get it? Get it? Okay how about this one, Pull my finger? Seriously, Gore believes that the DLC invented the idea of increased opportunity and more personal responsibility. The DLC did yeoman work in convincing Democrats that personal responsibility was not a code word for blaming the victim. It also did even more impressive work getting Democratic candidates to persuade voters they meant it. But the reason the DLC did this was because every four years a big kid called the Republican Party would give the Democrats a wedgie and eat their lunch. The Republican flag has been in the “opportunity society” for so long some Republicans have may have forgotten what it stands for. Nevertheless, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan were championing personal responsibility and increased opportunity when the bulk of the Democratic Party was going bra-less and wearing dashikis while blaming America for all the evils in the world. Democratic Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson was considered quixotic for actually hating Communists and loving America.

Al Gore and the DLC solipsists think the Democratic Party is America (after all, it does look like America which to them is alway the most important thing) and the Republicans are Huns from beyond the Danube. What does Gore think the Left was talking about for the last six years when they called Bill Clinton a Republican?

IT ALL COMES TOGETHER, I THINK.
Former Chilean President and Senator-for-Life Augusto Pinochet is under arrest in Britain despite all prudence and his diplomatic immunity. President Clinton is being politically hounded for a “private sex” act. Nelson Mandela privately counseled Bill Clinton and then gave a very inappropriate personal endorsement of our persecuted leader.

Now the New York Times reports that Mandela met privately with, I kid you not, Canaan Banana. Banana is the former President of Zimbabwe. He is wanted for 11 counts of sodomy and indecent assault with his body guards, gardeners, and chefs. No mention of interns. Mr. Mandela is getting a lot of heat because he did not notify Interpol about the visit of a known fugitive. His spokesperson Parks Mankahlana says “We are in a tight spot here. What is illegal in Zimbabwe is not necessarily illegal in South Africa.” Mr. Mankahlana also added, that Mr. Mandela met in a “private capacity.”

So let’s see: Mr. Banana does a little footnote 209 action (see Starr report), as they’re calling it on the docks and the playgrounds these days, in his own country while a head of state. This 209er+ may not be illegal in South Africa (overheard at the White House this morning: “Mrs. Currie, book me a flight to South Africa.”) but a controlling legal authority still wants the guy. Mandela meets with him privately but he is under fire because, his critics say, the President is never really acting in a private capacity.

The lawyers who now run everything — I saw one policing the 9-item limit at the checkout line the other day — call this sort of thing a “fact pattern.” To be honest I don’t know what it all means, but maybe somebody out there does.

SCORE ANOTHER ONE FOR STARR
When Clinton Mouthpiece David Kendall saw the news this morning he must have been crestfallen. Turns out there was no abuse of Monica Lewinsky in the Ritz Carlton according to Judge Norma Holloway Johnson. After all, he’s going to be defending Bill Clinton before the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Now, he might actually have to argue some evidence.

But what makes for a fascinating question is: When did the White House know about the Judge’s ruling? Starr spokesman Charles Bakaly said “This is an example where our prosecutors did not discuss rulings that would have helped us to respond to attacks to this office. We were prohibited from discussing it because it was under seal and we adhered to that.” So now we know that Ken Starr sat there for fourteen hours being grilled by partisan Democrats and White House shills about his barbaric treatment of Monica Lewinsky and he didn’t once mention that the court backed his office up. That’s intestinal fortitude. If the White House knew about the ruling too, then they are even more craven and cynical than even I thought. And that’s saying something.



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