While the agenda of the Republican party has of course shifted since Barack Obama took office, little attention has been paid to the philosophical legacy left by Obama's predecessor. But with the next round of GOP presidential contenders outlining their initial policy stances and larger political outlooks, some commentators are noting that the party has all but abandoned the "compassionate conservatism" of its last president.
Politico's Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns put it bluntly:
From Capitol Hill to the statehouses to the presidential primary, Republicans are turning their back on almost every important accomplishment of the Bush administration.
Bush’s attempt to reposition the GOP to the center-right has been rejected in favor of an unmodified brand of conservatism that would rather leave people alone than lift them up with any “armies of compassion.” Many of Bush’s distinctive policy ideas have fallen by the wayside, replaced by a nearly single-minded focus on reducing the size of government.
National Review's Rich Lowry framed the departure from Bush's brand of conservatism in the context of Texas Governor Rick Perry's likely entrance into the presidential race:
There might be no more powerful symbol of the death of compassionate conservatism in the Republican party than Bush’s successor and former running mate in Texas stomping all over it with cowboy boots emblazoned with the words “Freedom” and “Liberty.”
Bush rose from Texas to the national stage in 1999 talking of his federal education agenda, the courage of single mothers, the power of drug and alcohol recovery programs, and the need for government to forge partnerships with faith organizations. Perry is emerging from Texas talking of the 10th Amendment, cutting government, defending freedom — and defending freedom some more.
Do you agree with these assessments? Has the GOP abandoned "compassionate conservatism" wholesale? If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?