He'd make a fine Truman Democrat. Check out the spectacular tripe Michael Gerson, his former speechwriter and ideological co-conspirator, is pushing this week. It's mind blowing. I can't believe anyone believes Gerson and his neocon comrades are conservative in any way, shape, or form. Watch as he sneers at Thompson's understandable hesitation to send boatloads of hard-earned American money to dysfunctional African regimes.
Thompson's argument reflects an anti-government extremism, which I am sure his defenders would call a belief in limited government. In this case, Thompson is limiting government to a half-full thimble. Its duties apparently do not extend to the treatment of sick people in extreme poverty, which should be "the role of us as individuals and as Christians." One wonders, in his view, if responding to the 2004 tsunami should also have been a private responsibility. Religious groups are essential to fighting AIDS, but they cannot act on a sufficient scale.
Thompson also dives headfirst into the shallow pool of his own theological knowledge. In his interpretation, Jesus seems to be a libertarian activist who taught that compassion is an exclusively private virtue. This ignores centuries of reflection on the words of the Bible that have led to a nearly universal Christian conviction that government has obligations to help the weak and pursue social justice. Religious social reformers fought to end child labor and improve public health. It is hard to imagine they would have used the teachings of Christ to justify cutting off lifesaving drugs for tens of thousands of African children -- an argument both novel and obscene.
In the lifeboat dilemma Thompson proposes, we are asked to throw overboard either an American child with leukemia or an African child with AIDS -- and, by gum, it had better not be the American. The real issue is different: Should we increase the amount of money devoted to our generous cancer research efforts at the expense of African lives that can be saved for about $90 a year?
Daniel Larison, a wonderful paleocon, has some wonderfully pointed commentary on Gerson's inability to organize our national priorities in a matter even vaguely conservative.
P.S. This makes a good case for just how much the Democrats sacrificed by making a sharp left turn in the cultural arena. The Boomer Dems ran the party flat into the ground by scaring off Social Gospel liberals, who just couldn't abide by sharing an organization with abortionists and same-sex marriage cheerleaders, but who have zero problem with spending public money on "good works." They were a critical element of the long perished New Deal coalition, and their departure helped end liberalism's dominance of American politics.