Here’s a hit job on a straw man constructed out of a few Michael Gerson columns. Its author defends his boss, Dick Armey, from Gerson’s own alleged strawmanning. But if we’re seriously to consider how to manage the tensions in the conservative fusion--especially in the face of the rise of what some NLTers have called soft libertarianism--let’s get some light instead of heat.
Update: Pomocon James Poulos seems to agree that Gerson is at best a feelycon, and offers a long Tocquevillian explanation of why there’s pressure toward administration centralization under equality of conditions, a centralization that allegedly suits feelicons just fine.
My response: can’t compassionate conservatism properly understood base itself upon a properly Tocquevillian (and "Catholic," a la Gerson and John DiIulio, with whom I’ll soon have a few bones to pick) understanding of subsidiarity? Must the path to independence be as he describes it here?
One cannot cancel all our federal support programs without understanding that a lot of people on the dole are going to be stuck sucking wind until...one day...the old aristocratic habits of local charity, church solidarity, and family integrity come back to the fore in places where they have administratively been substituted under the delinking pressures of the democratic age. That day may be a long time coming, or at least an uncomfortable time coming, or at a minimum far enough away so that we feel true guilt in standing around as if we were making things better for people and not worse.
Will these "old aristocratic habits" come back without a nudge or two? Are they that natural?
Andrew Sullivan reads Gerson out of the conservative movement. Which makes me feel good (oops, I shouldn’t have said "feel"!) about my anti-anti-Gersonism. And which ought to give the Gerson’s critics cause for pause. How conservative could their position be if Andrew Sullivan embraces it?
But I jest!