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Recovering the 'Compassionate Conservative'

June 15, 2003

Out of necessity, the country has been re-militarized. The 'post-war' era was short-lived. The Clinton administration basked in the spoils of war - victory in the Cold War. The nation could even suffer two years of Clinton Oval Office improprieties, celebrated or commercialized currently in his wife's autobiography.

President Bush had only nine months to enjoy what was left of the post-Cold War victory. After September of his first year, he became more the Commander-in-Chief, and less the domestic president.

In 2000, then Texas governor G. W. Bush had campaigned on a 'compassionate' conservative message. It resounded with the voters. His opponents loathed him and his message. For them the Democrat Party is the party of compassion. The Republican Party is the party of the uncompassionate Rich. And sure enough, President Bush delivered on tax cuts, and the democrats pounced on the victory. Here was the proof, they claimed -- tax cuts for the rich. But in those same nine months, Bush delivered on another promise. And this was not ordinary promise for a Republican or a conservative.

President bush made education reform and improvement a main objective. Up to then, education had been the coveted domain of the Democrat Party. A near majority of delegates at the Democrats' 2000 nominating convention were teachers or from educational establishment. But for President Bush, as he had done as Governor of Texas, education was also his issue. He launched "No Child Left Behind." He gained bi-partisanship support. It included U.S. Senator Kennedy (D-Ma.)

Now two years later, terrorism and state sponsors of terrorism have demanded much of the president's time. Still, his educational program has quietly been implemented. Quietly only because the media, mainline and internet, showed little interest in his program. Nor did they cover extensively the president's June 10, 2003 report card on the "No Child Left Behind" initiative. I viewed a streaming video of his Rose Garden address to educators, parents and school children. He was animated and proud to give his report. No hint of the grave issues that have occupied his office. Rather total immersion in a program that was a milestone for him and his administration.

He said each state on schedule had submitted plans to implement a program that will allow parents in time to move failing kids from poor performance schools. Report cards on every school would be required. I wanted to see for myself. So I followed the internet links. I targetted a high school located near to where I was raised -- a troubled school in San Francisco. Link by link I found the scores for the school, Balboa High School. And indeed for each grade, for each major subject area, it was all there, just as he reported.

This proud President is the compassionate president when it comes to domestic initiatives. The President is also the Commander-in-Chief, a righteous president. But he is one president. In his manners and his passion, he has embraced both missions. Rarely has a president had the opportunity nor the ability to sustain achievement in both domestic and foreign policy missions with the equal intensity and enthusaism.

The presidential campaign next year should give President Bush the stage to show voters the dimensions of his leadership. A rebounding economy should cap the victory. The compassionate conservative theme of the 2000 campaign can and should be restored. This time as a result of concrete programs, that have provided concrete and compassionate reforms. He will an incumbent president who has successfully defended the country, without interrupting the compassionate conservative programs upon which he campaign in his first presidential contest. For that he should win re-election easily.

Streaming Video of Presidents Report Card on "No Child Left Behind"
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After Selecting Your state, go to "how is my state doing"

Write to Arthur at bruzzone@rightturns.com


Arthur Bruzzone has written over 250 political articles for national and regional media, and has commented on political and urban issues for American and European television and radio networks.  He is an award-winning public affairs television producer/host.His articles and columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Campaign & Elections Magazine, among other publications. Mr. Bruzzone holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy from C.U.A in Washington , D.C., and a M.B.A. in real estate. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer serving two years in the Kingdom of Tonga, and the former chair of the San Francisco Republican Party. He is president of a leading real estate investment company in San Francisco.

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