Sunday, March 11, 2007

"A ________ Conservative"

Simultaneously amusing and intriguing are reports that Fred Dalton Thompson--former US Senator and currently District Attorney of New York County on Law and Order--is contemplating a run for the Republican nomination for president in 2008.

Setting aside for the moment any discussion of his viability as a candidate, I was struck by a quotation in The Politico in re Thompson:

A friend who’s close to Thompson from his Senate days called an ’08 campaign “a distinct possibility,” and said the lawyer-turned-actor would run as “a likable conservative” and “a consensus conservative.”

Not entirely sure what a "consensus conservative" might be, but I was more intrigued by "likable conservative." I was reminded of George W. Bush characterizing himself as a "compassionate conservative" back when he was pursuing the GOP nomination in 2000. It seemed to me then, and does still, that he stuck the adjective in there as a tacit acknowledgment of what I have always believed to be the fact that conservative are not, in the main, compassionate. Indeed, if conservative were noted for being compassionate people, there would have been no reason for Bush to have gone out of his way to paint himself a compassionate conservative.

It is much the same as my describing myself as a liberal Catholic. Were I not a liberal, it would hardly be worth the trouble to put an adjective in front of "Catholic," since I think it a fair assumption these days to say that the majority of us are conservatives.

And so I give some thought to Thompson's "friend" making some effort to assure us that Thompson would be a "likable" conservative. It seems an admission that conservative, in general, are not likable, so we have to distinguish Thompson as a member of the minority of "likable" ones.

Perhaps, for all I know, he is "compassionate" as well. Time, I suppose, will tell.

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