One casualty of the end of the Dean campaign is that it has preempted any stark contrast between the Democratic candidate who said, "It is time not to put up [with] any of this 'love thy neighbor' stuff," and the Republican president who is reportedly driven by the golden rule. Asked last year to characterize Bush's foreign policy goals, Don Evans told Christianity Today, "It's love your neighbor like yourself. The neighbor happens to be everyone on the planet."
It's likely that Weekly Standard publisher Terry Eastland intended to run this week's cover story at a later date, back when it looked like Dean might win the nomination. But now that Dean is out, taking special note of the contrasting views of "neighbor-love" is a now-or-never essay. And with Dean out, Eastland is left focusing almost entirely upon Bush.
Much has been written about Bush's faith, but Eastland's "Bush's Gospel" is an excellent analysis of it. Throw out your old notions of what a "religious conservative" president must look like. Bush doesn't seem to be driven by traditional cornerstones of the conservative movement. In fact, his embrace of Golden Rule government is sometimes at odds with that movement, while other ramifications of it put him at increasing odds with liberal Democrats. "It represents a modification, even a diminution, of American conservatism," Eastland writes.
To say that neighbor-love motivates Bush is not to say that it justifies particular policies or actions he's described as compassionate. Neighbor-love is a principle of high generality. Put a bunch of people around a table, give them the principle, ask them to devise a policy to address Problem X, and you may get as many proposals as you have people. Most of Bush's "compassionate" ...1
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