Politics & Policy

Saint Sam

Senator Brownback of Kansas is one of the country's leading virtuecrats.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the May 8, 2006, issue of National Review.

About five years ago, at a weekly prayer meeting of senators, Sam Brownback came as close as he ever had to confessing to a hate crime. “I was scheduled to be the speaker that morning,” recalls Brownback, a Kansas Republican. “As I was preparing for it, I had seen hate in myself for the Clintons. I felt righteous. That’s not a Christian virtue.”

Brownback says his antipathy for the Clintons grew out of the government shutdowns of the mid-1990s, when he was a freshman member of the House. “We were trying to balance the budget, and President Clinton backed away from an agreement,” he says. “I flew off the handle.” More controversies followed, including impeachment. As a senator in 1999, Brownback voted to remove Clinton from office. He says he isn’t sorry for that, but he does regret the way he felt about it at the time: “When somebody does something wrong, there is a penalty to pay, but there is not an entitlement to hate.”

Within a couple of years, of course, one Clinton was out of office and another was in–Hillary Rodham Clinton became one of Brownback’s Senate colleagues in 2001. She also started to attend the Tuesday-morning prayer group. Brownback figured that she would be there on the day he was supposed to speak, and indeed she was. He used the occasion to clear his mind. “I confessed it to the group,” says Brownback. “I apologized for my hate.”

Today, Brownback is all about the love–not just for the Clintons, but for everyone. As he mulls a long-shot bid for the White House in 2008, he is trying to reinvent the politics of compassionate conservatism for the post-Bush era…

YOU CAN READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE IN THE CURRENT ISSUE OF THE DIGITAL VERSION OF NATIONAL REVIEW. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A SUBSCRIPTION TO NR DIGITAL OR NATIONAL REVIEW, YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR A SUBSCRIPTION TO NATIONAL REVIEW here OR NATIONAL REVIEW DIGITAL here (a subscription to NR includes Digital access).

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

Most Popular

The Imaginary Trump

Like Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is man who represents the age in which he lived. Whatever you may think of the age. Jackson embodied a generation of men who had risen and made their mark in a young country. He represented their desire for greater representation, even if it had costs for slaves and Indians. He ... Read More

The Imaginary Trump

Like Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is man who represents the age in which he lived. Whatever you may think of the age. Jackson embodied a generation of men who had risen and made their mark in a young country. He represented their desire for greater representation, even if it had costs for slaves and Indians. He ... Read More
Film & TV

Bowing Down to Obama

‘How can we miss you when you won’t go away?” political podcaster Yvette Carnell joked two years ago when Barack Obama began his comeback tour by making sideline pronouncements about the state of the nation after his brief retirement. Now the comeback is official, with two new Kool-Aid-drinker Obama ... Read More
Film & TV

Bowing Down to Obama

‘How can we miss you when you won’t go away?” political podcaster Yvette Carnell joked two years ago when Barack Obama began his comeback tour by making sideline pronouncements about the state of the nation after his brief retirement. Now the comeback is official, with two new Kool-Aid-drinker Obama ... Read More
Economy & Business

Shopping Superstitions

It’s the boss-bossiest time of the year, when Americans getting ready to open up their wallets to buy Christmas presents are lectured by illiterate halfwits about where and how to spend their money. The usual demands: Buy local, or buy from small businesses. This is pure nonsense, and you should feel free to ... Read More
Economy & Business

Shopping Superstitions

It’s the boss-bossiest time of the year, when Americans getting ready to open up their wallets to buy Christmas presents are lectured by illiterate halfwits about where and how to spend their money. The usual demands: Buy local, or buy from small businesses. This is pure nonsense, and you should feel free to ... Read More
History

The 1620 Project

On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower arrived on the eastern coast of North America. She had weathered the slings and arrows of maritime misfortune for almost ten weeks at that point, but the passengers thought the discomfort of crossing a small price to pay for passage to the Promised Land. After all, these were ... Read More
History

The 1620 Project

On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower arrived on the eastern coast of North America. She had weathered the slings and arrows of maritime misfortune for almost ten weeks at that point, but the passengers thought the discomfort of crossing a small price to pay for passage to the Promised Land. After all, these were ... Read More