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Jewish World Review June 21, 1999/ 7 Tamuz 5759

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Crumbs of compassion -- YOU KNOW THIS is going to be one heck of a campaign season when the Democratic front-runner is being forced to prove he's more compassionate than the Republican one.

Try as he undoubtedly did, Al Gore couldn't quite make it through his campaign announcement without revealing his defensiveness about W's presumptuous appropriation of the compassion theme. Bush has definitely gotten Gore's goat, and maybe even his family farm --- tobacco and all. It's a beautiful thing.

Gore took an unmistakable shot at Bush when he said, "I want to do it the right way, not be letting people fend for themselves or hoping for crumbs of compassion, but by giving people the skills and knowledge to succeed in their own right in the next century."

As I wrote last time, I am no longer upset with Bush for coining the phrase "compassionate conservatism" because I don't view it as an apology for conservatism proper. I just think Bush has devised a way to beat Clintonian liberals at their own game of political marketing.

Part of Clinton and Gore's unscrupulous genius has been to steal Republican ideas, such as balancing the budget and welfare reform, leaving Republicans not only empty handed but also on the defensive. How dare Clinton/Gore veto welfare reform twice, only reluctantly pass it the third time because it was so close to the election and then claim credit as if they had originated the idea. But what's worse is that they got away with it.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If they can steal the budget and welfare issues, then why can't Republican Bush steal compassion? If you don't know, I'll tell you why: because compassion is liberalism's Holy Grail. Since my childhood days, I have witnessed first-hand the liberalism's claim to an exclusive possessory interest in the virtue of compassion.

Today, that claim persists. But now it goes even further. It's not enough that liberals have a monopoly on compassion and that conservatives are bereft of it. Conservatives are not just unfeeling, they are affirmatively mean-spirited, wanting to deprive children of their school lunches and the elderly of their Medicare benefits.

Just as liberals, such as Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw, are generally too blinded by their own bias to recognize that it exists, they are incapable of conceiving that conservatives can be compassionate. They are so inebriated with feelings of moral superiority for their self-perceived compassion and tolerance (for everything but conservatism and everyone but conservatives) that they view us on the right as moral reprobates. I'm not exaggerating. Liberal moral superiority is the unstated presumption that underlies every political debate. If you have the naivete to doubt it just get the transcripts of Rosie O'Donnell's assault on Tom Selleck, Geraldo's twisted eulogies of Susan McDougal and demonizations of Ken Starr or any of Charles Grodin's painfully mindless sermonizing monologues.

Well, I for one am just about tired of it. How incredibly shallow of them to presume to know what motivates our ideology. It must never occur to them that it is an abiding love for our fellow human beings and our heartfelt desire that they be allowed to shine in the light of political freedom.

Well, Clinton and Gore started this fight, or at least, exacerbated it. As they have lived by the polls, so they must die by the polls. They made their own twin bed by vilifying and lying about Republicans. They have thrived through nearly two terms on unbridled political exploitation. They have pitted class against class, race against race, gender against gender and everyone against evil Republicans.

Unfortunately for them, it appears that W is a quick study and is going to turn the tables on them, using a play right out of their corrupt playbook. The only difference will be that he won't have to be deceitful, because conservatives are compassionate. Hopefully, through his political adroitness, he will once and for all neutralize their scaremongering and force them back to the table to debate the merits of the issues, rather than the emotions surrounding them.

If Bush is successful at exposing the notion that conservatives are uncompassionate for the myth that it is, liberals are going to feel intellectually homeless for a season. That is because their ideas, with the exceptions of the one's they've stolen from us, are bankrupt.

After the 2000 election, if Republicans indeed are victorious, maybe they can finally demonstrate their bona fides to liberal Democrats by throwing them "crumbs of compassion."

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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