Republicans concluded that pure government bashing won't work politically during the Clinton years. Hence President Bush's "compassionate" or "big government" conservatism.
Is that right? Were Republicans for smaller government, but then they saw that it didn’t work politically so they threw out their principles and proceeded to expand the state even greater than Clinton did and with the drug prescription program passed the biggest welfare state program since LBJ’s Great Society? If that is so, then the Republicans are cowards without integrity.
I don’t think Mr. Mirengoff is right. I think Bush and many if not most Republicans are ideologically committed to big government. You don’t come up with a theory of government like “compassionate conservatism” solely as a cynical ploy to win votes. Bush’s favorite political philosopher was an altruist. Bush might be the most idealistic President since Woodrow Wilson. He is committed to doing what he thinks is right, both at home and abroad.
The Republicans must look deeper than political tactics and “what works”; they must examine their ideals.