Giving people fish hasn’t worked; teach them to fish instead.

It’s remarkable how many don’t seem to have understood what the whole Compassionate Conservative thing is about. It’s really not about being a conservative, it’s about a more effective and logical way of responding to society’s problems. The traditional shorthand is that Democrats want to expand social welfare programs and Republicans want to eliminate them. The CC agenda is essentially the GOP moderating its stance.

There are hungry people in this country, there are people who are suffering. Neither George Bush nor John Kerry wants to see Americans suffering. Nobody wants to see Americans suffering, except for Al-Quaeda and maybe the French, and I don’t think anybody besides Michael Moore is going to vote for them.

The problem is that the traditional Democratic way of helping people is to just give them what they need. Or more often, what the Democrats think they need. This may help the problem in the short run; hungry people get food. But it doesn’t do anything about tomorrow, when those same people will be hungry again. It creates dependance, and it breeds weakness. It fosters what Bush brilliantly termed “the soft bigotry of low expectations”.

Bush’s speech last night was excellent, in my always-ever-so-humble opinion. There were however a few off-notes. Specifically, it’s tough to reconcile Bush’s belief that “[t]he story of America is the story of expanding liberty” with his support for a Constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage. I personally don’t feel particularly strongly one way or the other on this issue, but I’m sure the people who do will jump all over this contradiction.

I also felt like he was missing something in his platform; he kept telling us we had to hope, that there is greatness in our future, that there are historic goals within our reach, but there were no grand goals presented, outside of continuing what we’re already doing.

I would have liked to have seen something sweeping up on that podium: leaving for Mars before his term ends; eliminating gasoline-based cars entirely in the next four years; building a space elevator by next Tuesday. Something that would capture our collective imagination, something awe-inspiring, something that seems fantastic and impossible and futuristic and wonderful. And a lot of the speech seemed to want this certain something as well.

All in all though, it was a knockout of a speech. I didn’t catch Kerry’s rebuttal at midnight (didn’t even hear anything about it till after it was over) but it sounds like the consensus summary is that it was petty and confused, so all in all I’d say Bush won yesterday. Now he just needs to keep doing that for two months.