If this interview is any indication. A taste:
Until recently, the Republican Party and Christian conservatives have complained that government is the problem. Is that a view they will likely return to?
I think it’s a temptation, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. One reason is because of what’s changed in evangelical political involvement.
I think there are lots and lots of young people, in their 20s to 40s, who are very impatient with older models of social engagement like those used by the Religious Right. They understand the importance of the life issues and the family issues, but they know the concern for justice has to be broader and global. At least a good portion of the evangelical movement is looking for leaders who have a broader conception of social justice. President Bush has provided that in many ways. He ran his initial campaign on education and on faith-based answers to poverty and addiction. And then he’s led the international efforts we’ve undertaken, both on the development and disease side, but also on the spread of human liberty.
You’re starting to sound like Jim Wallis!
No, because I also don’t think the answers can be found in the Religious Left. I don’t think we can minimize some of the traditional issues. I don’t believe it’s possible to be concerned about social justice without being concerned about the weakest members of the human family. I also think that America can play an active and positive role in the world and that we’re not at fault for everything.
Read the whole thing.
Update: Here are excerpts from another Gerson interview. Two interesting bits:
The president was not and is not a cultural warrior. He didn’t come from the background of, say, a Richard Nixon with the Hiss case or Ronald Reagan as a leader of the conservative movement. He came as a fairly moderate governor with an inclusive government style.
"On the religion side, I think we have been very careful to have a principled pluralism, not to have a sectarian rhetoric. The goal is to be welcoming to the role of all faiths and not to single out any faith or preference. That kind of sectarianism is deeply destructive, it is destructive to faith as well as government, when any religious group becomes a tool of those in power.... [On gay rights] I would only say on the side of the homosexual rights question, I see it from the inside. This is a case where this was an issue that was pushed upon us by aggressive courts."
I think that GWB is a sort of a cultural warrior, though not with a hard rhetorical edge. There’s a good bit of evidence that he was and is troubled by the legacy of the 60s and that both his compassionate conservatism and his emphasis on the "ownership society" were intended to win back some of the ground in civil society that was won by the nihilistic Left in the 1960s. He is nothing if not a proponent of individual responsibility, albeit in a Christian rather than libertarian sense.
Here are a couple of passages from David Aikman’s
A Man of Faith that bear this out.
George W. first met [Marvin] Olasky in 1993, and Olasky’s views reinforced in the governor’s mind those of leftist-turned-conservative writer and commentator David Horowitz, who views the 1960s as the source of social policy based on guilt and on calls for massive governmental welfare spending. This approach, according to Olasky, ensured the continuing existence of a permanently dependent underclass. [Karl] Rove had discovered Horowitz and another influential debunker of the 1960s, Myron Magnet, and urged George W. to read their works. Rove was very taken with Magnet, whose book The Dream and the Nightmare reinforced Rove’s notion, shared by George W., that one of the disastrous cultural errors in the United States during the 1960s was the view of society as one great morass of "victims." [pp. 100-101]
My dream is to usher in what I call the "responsibility era"--an era in which each and every Texan understands that we’re responsible for the decisions we make in life; that each of us is responsible for making sure our families come first; that we’re responsible for loving our neighbors as we’d like to be loved ourselves; and that we’re responsible for the communities in which we live.
Government can help. Government can help usher in the responsibility era. After all, we can pass laws...that say, as we did in the Juvenile Justice Code, "If you break the law, there will be a consequence." The Juvenile Justice Code clearly says, "You’ll be held responsible for the decisions you’ve made." That’s a conservative approach. By the way, it’s a compassionate approach to say to our young that discipline and love go hand in hand.
Cultures change...one act of compassion at a time. That’s how cultures change. And each of us must participate. We must promote good values in our homes and in our public institutions. We must not be afraid to tach our children right from wrong....
We must teach our children bedrock values--not the values of one religious denomination over another, but Judeo-Christian values that have stood the test of time. The importance of family. There are obligations to love your nighbor, give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wages. Don’t lie, do not cheat, do not steal. Respect others. Respect their opinions, and remember, it’s you who are responsible for the decisions you make in life. [pp. 210-211]
The last few paragraphs are taken from a sermon GWB preached in 1999. They make it tolerably clear that he wanted to roll back the legacy of the 1960s.