COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM: What It Is, What It Does, and How It Can Save America by Marvin Olasky Free Press, $24.00
YOU ARE MARVIN OLASKY. YOU are the youthful-Marxist -turned-middle-aged-evangelical-Christian right-wing social thinker who in 1993 introduced George W. Bush to what blossomed into "compassionate conservatism" From your perch at the University of Texas journalism school, you bask in your new-found public attention, even when the Christian newsweekly you nominally edit, World, runs a cover story by Bob Jones IV bitterly excoriating John McCain right before the South Carolina primary. Then there was the quote that The Washington Post took out of context about the unfitness of women for the presidency.
Okay, so you're getting a little nervous. You ask yourself: Am I too controversial for Dubya? Why have the media started giving Myron Magnet of City Journal equal credit for inspiring the Bush social gospel? You remember David Osborne, the author of Laboratories of Democracy, who at this point in the 1992 political season was hailed as Bill Clinton's guru. You also realize that it's been years since anyone mentioned Osborne's name. In short, even though you remain confident that Dubya continues to treasure your advice and insights, you're also adult enough to know that a presidential nominee, let alone the occupant of the Oval Office, can be fickle in his affections.
So what is to be done? How about a book called Compassionate Conservatism that will forever brand you as the avatar of the movement? A hard cover that will put you on TV explaining the philosophy right before the Republican Convention. Maybe even a book with a forward from Dubya that says, "Marvin is compassionate conservatism's leading thinker." (Oh, the negotiations with Karen Hughes that it took to get that sentence just right.)
Now for the hard part: what to put between two covers? A collection won't get you the attention you crave. But a real book, written in your take-no-prisonerss-the-infidels-are-at-the-gate prose style, might finally scare off Dubya for good. Anyway, you need to soften your image a bit, sort of like John Steinbeck wandering America with his dog in Travels with Charley. Bingo! why not go on the road for two months with your 14-year-old son, Daniel, and describe your visits to faith-based anti-poverty programs? You were scheduled to visit them anyway to do the real-people-telling-real-stories background research for Dubya's...