On National Review Online, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg reacts to musings by conservative writers David Brooks and Michael Gerson about Rick Santorum’s political rise in the GOP primaries and how his social views might be expressed in government policy. Would a President Santorum usher in a smaller but more “transformational” role for the state in addressing social ills? Gregg:

On the one hand, self-described compassionate conservatives understand there is no such thing as morally neutral laws or morally indifferent government policies. At some level (even quite remote), all laws and policies embody some type of moral logic (which is either coherent or incoherent). Thus they cannot help but shape — for better and worse — a society’s moral culture. That’s just one reason among many why the legal treatment of issues like abortion, euthanasia, pornography, and marriage matters, and why they can’t, as some libertarians claim, be simply relegated to the private sphere.

At the same time, it seems to me that many compassionate conservatives don’t fully appreciate the moral, social, and legal urgency of reducing the state’s size and reach, instead of primarily focusing upon streamlining government’s role.

Read Samuel Gregg’s “The Problem with Compassionate Conservatism” on NRO.

  • Roger McKinney

    Bush I was the first compassionate conservative and he
    attacked Iraq.
    Bush II was the second and he attacked Iraq
    and Afghanistan.
    Santorum wants to attack Iran.
    They have little compassion for the working person who struggles to pay bills
    after paying a heavy tax burden, or for the business people who can’t compete
    in exports because of heavy taxes and regulation. Their “compassion” seems to
    be limited to just leftist causes and they have no compassion for foreigners.

    “abortion, euthanasia, pornography, and marriage matters…” 

    Abortion and euthanasia are legit concerns of the state
    because the state’s role is to protect life, liberty and property. But
    pornography, drugs and marriage are church matters that the state should stay
    out of.
     

  • Miller_g

    Mr. McKinney,  Bush I acted in solidarity with a coalition of nations to respond to the aggression of a brutal tyrant responsible for the deaths of over a million people.  Bush II finished the job his father should have. 

    And as far as Iran is concerned, any “attack” would be a defensive response against a regime that denies the Holocaust, is the largest sponsor of terrorism in the world, has called for the destruction of the state of Israel, and now seeks the means to make it happen. 

    You seem to need a serious reality check.

    • Roger McKinney

      War mongers always find a way to justify their attacks. Did
      the millions of Iraqis killed by the sanctions and two wars, plus 4,000
      Americans, compensate for the “millions” killed by Hussein? That kind of
      compassion comes with a lot of dead bodies. The US
      should have followed the Catholic teaching on subsidiarity and let the Arab
      League handle the problem of Saddam Hussein. You apparently have forgotten that
      Hussein was the US’s
      ‘friend’ until he invaded Kuwait.
      Bush I did not see Hussein as bad enough to overthrow. Bush II invaded because
      of the hoax that claimed Iraq
      had nuclear and biological weapons.

      As for Iran,
      denying the holocaust and calling for the destruction of Israel
      are just words. We should never attack another nation over nothing but words.
      Do we not allow anyone else to have freedom of speech? Yes, Iran
      sponsors terrorism, but the death toll so far from that terror has been pretty
      small. Attack Iran
      and we will kill tens of thousands more than Iran
      has killed through its terrorism. Is killing thousands to save hundreds
      justified, especially when better intelligence work will do the job?

      Compassionate conservatives sure want to kill a lot of
      people!

      • Miller_g

        “Compassionate conservatives sure want to kill a lot of
        people!”

        Look who knows so much!  Which are you claiming to be, psychic, or God, to be able to judge what the true motivations so many other are?  Sometimes, to save lives you have to take the lives of murderers who refuse to stop.

        You falsely claim “millions” were killed by Americans in Iraq.  I challenge you to back up your claim with actual data. 

        Depending on the source (Wikipedia has a good collection of data: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War ), deaths range from 110,600 to 1,033,000.  That high end number stands alone, with most research indicating a far lower count. 

        Far from the “millions” you ignorantly claim, and far lower than the number of innocents killed during Saddam’s brutal regime and the depredations of his psychotic sons/successors. 

        The difference between the two of us is that I can actually back up my claim that Saddam killed millions.  Consult the figures for the first war of aggression perpetrated by Saddam (Iran-Iraq War: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran-Iraq_War ).  How can you absolve Saddam of wrongdoing or accountability when that first aggression took the lives of more than our conflict in Iraq?  How can you ignore that was the first time he used WMDS against others?

        Then there is Operation Anfal, when he turned chemical weapons against the Khurds, murdering somewhere around another 100,000? 

        How can you ignore the reports by Amnesty International concerning Saddam’s torture, rape, and murder of his own citizens?

        I haven’t even touched his invasion of Kuwait or sponsorship of terrorism.

        The truth is the doves like yourself would rather allow millions to be killed than do the honorable and dangerous work of going over, putting your own life on the line, and saving lives (which yes, sometimes necessitates killing murderers).  It’s sad that some people use pacifism as an excuse for their own cowardice.

        • Roger McKinney

          It’s not a matter of being psychic. It’s a matter of
          observation: when we go to war a lot of dead bodies pile up. Neocons can claim
          that they don’t want to see people die, they just want to go to war. But war
          kills people. You can’t have war without death. That’s stupid. So either
          neocons are stupid and don’t see the connection between war and death, or they
          at best find massive death acceptable.

          “deaths
          range from 110,600 to 1,033,000.  That high end number stands alone, with
          most research indicating a far lower count.”
          So you
          accept the lower count because it makes you feel good? Iraqis lean toward the
          higher count and I think they know better than anyone.

          “Then
          there is Operation Anfal, when he turned chemical weapons against the Khurds,
          murdering somewhere around another 100,000?”

          That
          was not murder. Iran had invaded the Kurdish town
          during the war. As Americans say, the Kurds were just collateral damage. Why is
          collateral damage fine for Americans but not for Hussein?

          “How
          can you ignore the reports by Amnesty International concerning Saddam’s
          torture, rape, and murder of his own citizens?”

          I didn’t.
          I admitted he had committed those crimes. So you justify killing a million
          Iraqis because Hussein committed crimes against a few of his own citizens?

          “The
          truth is the doves like yourself would rather allow millions to be killed…”

          You
          have it exactly backwards. Hussein did not kill millions. He killed thousands.
          The US killed millions.

          Hussein
          was not one iota different from any other head of state in the Middle East, except for Israel. They always have been and
          always will be corrupt, brutal thugs. It’s their culture. It’s not the US’s job to change the culture of
          the entire Middle
          East.

          BTW, I
          see you decided to dodge the matter of Hussein protecting the Christian
          population which has been decimated by Muslims since the US invaded.

          • Miller_g

            “You have it exactly backwards. Hussein did not kill millions. He killed thousands.  The US killed millions.”  –R. McKinney

            You know Roger, that’s the second time you’ve claimed millions, without citing an iota of outside evidence, in spite of my challenge to do so.  I think you’ve shown your true colors for all to see.

            And by continuing to claim thousands when there is a mountain of evidence (to which I linked and specifically referred) to support my claim, you show you either don’t care about objective Truth, or/(and) about those  lives. 

            I will pray for you, because you obviously need it.

          • Miller_g

            “BTW, I see you decided to dodge the matter of Hussein protecting the Christian population which has been decimated by Muslims since the US invaded.”

            So what you seem to be insinuating is that because he protected a minority population, his millions of killings, rapes, and instances of torture ought to be excused?  Talk about some twisted logic, Roger!

            I didn’t dodge the issue at all.  I do not have the time to inform everyone on this board of everything done during Saddam’s decades long reign–though I have done far more toward that goal than you.

            Firstly, it was not relevant to the debate at hand, which you raised (the moral evaluation of US action in Iraq).  Secondly, in the balance, Saddam’s evils are so great, and so far beyond the evils of many other regimes in that neighborhood, that an act of enforced tolerance does next to nothing to absolve him of atrocity. 

            Finally, you’re dead wrong in calling Operation Anfal collateral damage, and those Khurds who’ve survived would disabuse you of your ignorance.  Seems you’re willing to take the word of Saddam over that of his victims.  Shame on you!

            If it was “collateral damage”, why did he send his forces back in to bulldoze schools, hospitals, and residences?  If the Iranians were truly still occupying those villages, do you think they’d have the luxury to
            do that bulldozing? 

            Wake up man!  Use the brain God gave you!

          • Roger McKinney

             ”that’s the second time you’ve claimed millions, without citing an iota of outside evidence”

            You provided the range of several thousand to over a million dead in Iraq, which you got from Wikipedia. I selected the million because Iraqis use that number. You’re only excuse for choosing a lower number is that a few more people like it than like the larger number. Maybe you should take the telephone pole out of your eye before insisting I take the toothpick out of mine.

            “So what you seem to be insinuating is that because he protected a minority population, his millions of killings, rapes, and instances of torture ought to be excused?”

            Wow, how did Hussein’s killing of thousands get to be millions? I’m not trying to justify anything. You’re trying justify your bloodlust by comparing your killing of millions to Hussein’s killing of thousands. All I’m saying is that your justification doesn’t work. And I wanted to point out that Hussein did some good as well as evil. You portray him as pure evil.

            “Saddam’s evils are so great, and so far beyond the evils of many other regimes in that neighborhood,”

            YOu’re only advertising your ignorance of the region. Check out Memri.org for the truth.

            “If the Iranians were truly still occupying those villages, do you think they’d have the luxury to
            do that bulldozing?”

            Allow yourself to learn a little bit of history. Don’t insist on always remaining as ignorant as you are. Iranian troops invaded the Kurdish town during the war. Hussein used gas to kill the Iranian troops. The Iranian troops pulled out before Hussein bombed the village, but Hussein didn’t know that.

          • Miller_g

            “You provided the range of several thousand to over a million dead in
            Iraq, which you got from Wikipedia. I selected the million because
            Iraqis use that number.”

            Roger, strike three, you’re out.  If the Iraqis use that number, why haven’t you simply put a link to a credible outside source?  This is the third time you’ve failed to honor a simple request for citation to back up your claims–claims which run counter to the data gathered by groups across the political spectrum, BTW. 

            And, incidentally, one of the low-end casualty estimates (151,000 deaths) was a report BY the IRAQIS THEMSELVES!!

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Family_Health_Survey :

            “On January 9, 2008 the World Health Organization reported the results of the “Iraq Family Health Survey” published in the New England Journal of Medicine.[1][2][3][4][5]
            The study surveyed 9,345 households across Iraq and was carried out in
            2006 and 2007. It estimated 151,000 deaths due to violence (95%
            uncertainty range, 104,000 to 223,000) from March 2003 through June
            2006.
            The study was done by the “Iraq Family Health Survey Study Group”, a
            collaborative effort of six organizations: the Federal Ministry of
            Health, Baghdad; Kurdistan Ministry of Planning, Erbil;
            Kurdistan Ministry of Health, Erbil; Central Organization for
            Statistics and Information Technology, Baghdad; World Health
            Organization Iraq office, Amman, Jordan; World Health Organization, Geneva….The Iraq Family Health Survey (IFHS) was a cross-sectional, nationally
            representative survey of 9345 households that was conducted by relevant
            federal and regional ministries in Iraq in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO)….Paul Spiegel, a medical epidemiologist at the United Nations High
            Commission on Refugees in Geneva, commented, “Overall, this is a very
            good study,” adding that “this does seem more believable to me” than the
            earlier Lancet survey, which estimated 601,000 deaths from violence over the same period.[12] ”

            Sorry Roger, you’re credibility is completely shot, and while I’m happy to continue discourse with an opponent who brings even a modicum of reason and outside data to the table, you’ve repeatedly proven yourself incapable of that.  Good luck living in your fantasy world!

          • Roger McKinney

             PS, to refresh your memory on what actually happened in the two gulf wars: no country in the Middle East wanted Saddam Hussein removed from power, except maybe Israel, before the first Guld war. Saudi Arabia flatly refused to let the US use its territory to launch an attack. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey reluctantly joined our “coalition” after much threatening and bribery. Then they played insignificant roles in the combat.

            In the 2nd Gulf war we had no coalition to speak of because no one else would join us. For a guy as evil as you portray Hussein, no one else in the region thought he was such a bad guy. You have fallen victim to the typical war propaganda that governments always spew out to justify their blood lust. The US has always depicted its enemies as lowe forms of animals instead of human beings. Gullible people fall for it.