When George Bush began waving his compassionate conservative flag, the laughter could be heard not just from the left but many on the right had a chuckle, too. The term goes beyond ‘oxymoron’. Any dictionary should have ‘conservative’ as the first entry for antonyms of ‘compassion’.
With the explosion of tea party candidates for the US midterms, compassionate conservatism can now be shown for the canard that it is. The frothing and churning of hate from these candidates, the threatening of doing away with EI, social security and other safety net programs, the overt racism and the violence always just under the surface are all indicative of a nasty, selfish and ruthless world view.
No one represents this view more than Glenn Beck. And nothing represents that view more than Beck’s take yesterday on a family who lost their home to fire while firemen stood by and watched. The owner, Gene Cranick, had neglected to pay a $75 fee to pay for firefighters. The result is that not only did the house burn down but three dogs and a cat died in the fire. A sad story.
But not to Beck. He railed against Mr. Cranick while his co-host took the part of the home owner using a fake southern accent, mocking the man. Granted Cranick should have paid his dues. But surely the fire department could have put out the fire and then fined him or found some other punishment.
The burning down of one’s house and the loss of family pets is a tragic enough fate. But to mock and laugh at Cranick and then complain that people may show sympathy towards him is not only cold-hearted but the hallmark of the conservative’s lack of common decency and compassion.
GRAY: (mocking Cranick’s accent) Even tho’ I hadn’t paid mah seventy five dollahs I thought dey’d put it out. [...] I wanted ‘em to put it out, but dey didn’t put it out.
BECK: Here’s the thing. Those that are just on raw feeling are not going to understand. [...]
GRAY: But I thought they was gonna put the fire out anyway, but it burned down. Dat ain’t right! [...] What’s the Fire Department for if you don’t put out the fire?! [...] I thought they’d put out mah fire even if I didn’t pay seventy five dollars.
BECK: This is the sort of argument that Americans are going to have.
GRAY: It is.
BECK: And it goes nowhere if you go onto “compassion, compassion, compassion, compassion” or well, “they should’ve put it out, what is the fire department for?” [...] If you don’t pay the 75 dollars then that hurts the fire department. They can’t use those resources, and you’d be spongeing off your neighbor’s resources. [...] It’s important for America to have this debate. This is the kind of stuff that’s going to have to happen, we are going to have to have these kinds of things.