From an e-friend who writes ocassionally for the Weekly Standard (if you couldn’t tell):
Well put. But “thoughtful”? Hmph. These two sentences are so rhetorically slippery as to border on dishonesty: “Conservatives have generally taught that the health of society is determined by the health of institutions: families, neighborhoods, schools, congregations. Unfettered individualism can loosen those bonds, while government can act to strengthen them. By this standard, good public policies-from incentives to charitable giving, to imposing minimal standards on inner-city schools-are not apostasy; they are a thoroughly orthodox, conservative commitment to the common good.” That “from . . . to” interjection is simply preposterous. Incentives to charitable giving and the imposition of standards on schools are the tiniest, most innocent-sounding examples he could have found. The idea that these are typical of the sorts of things the federal government does in the name of “strengthening institutions” is laughable. Perhaps he just forgot about – oh, I don’t know – incentives to sell off family-owned businesses to get around the inheritance tax, or the imposition of sinister racial quotas on schools and universities: all intennded to foster societal institutions. His mistake is thinking that the federal government is full of people like him; the whole essay could be boiled down to one sentence – “When I was in government, we did all kinds of really smart stuff, so what’s the problem, guys?” The problem, of course, is that the federal government is teeming with liberals, not with readers of the Weekly Standard. (To which magazine I have the highest regard, btw.)
Me: I should also note that the Weekly Standard has been quite friendly to the idea of Big Government Conservatism, on ocassion.