Monday, October 24, 2005

The transatlantic mirage

It's a trend: beleaguered conservatives looking across the ocean to see signs that all is not lost. The latest installment is provided by "smart conservative" and New York Times columnist David Brooks (subs. req'd) concluding that George Bush conservatism is in good shape because a potential future leader of the Tories used the expression "compassionate conservatism" in a speech. We're not making this up:

The future belongs to post-Bush conservatives. If you want a glimpse of that future, read the speech David Cameron gave earlier this month, which electrified the British Conservative Party conference. Cameron has learned the essential lessons of Bushism. He offered a positive, governing conservatism. He talked about helping moms afford child care and helping the people of Darfur survive. "A modern, compassionate conservatism is right for our times," he declared.

Er... electrified? We noted this exact usage at the time, and with it the report of groans from the audience during the speech. As Brooks must know, "compassionate conservatism" is one of those zombie phrases from the 2000 election, one developed to separate candidate Bush from the lunatic Congressional Republicans, but one that no one on the right actually knows what it means.

To place in context, we've now seen failed Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith join forces with doomed Pennsylvania Senate candidate Rick Santorum to announce the arrival of "social justice conservatives," the self-same David Brooks call for a "back to basics" revival (without laughing), and Norman Lamont not recognising that it's a replay of his early 1990s for his American conservative friends. DUDES! The Bush-Churchill comparison* at least had the virtue that if the Republicans crashed at the next general election in 2008, as they're on course to do, that could be aligned with Winston's loss after saving the world in 1945. But if you want to make the current brand of Tory your model, with 3 election losses and counting, be our guest.

UPDATE: The much-missed Sullywatch returns with the apt description of the above movement as fin de siécle Anglo-American conservatism.

UPDATE 1 NOV*Latest example of Bush Churchill comparison.

No comments: