Monday, November 26, 2007

George Will: Intentions and Results

George Will's Sunday Washington Post column (available also at Real Clear Politics) takes aim at "heroic conservatism" where "compassion" is the driving force.

Will writes: "First, politics is reduced to right-mindedness -- to having good intentions arising from noble sentiments -- and has an attenuated connection with results. Second, limited government must be considered uncompassionate, because the ways to prevent or reduce stress are unlimited. ...

"Conservatism's task is to distinguish between what government can and cannot do, and between what it can do but should not."

Sounds like another way to differentiate between morality of intentions and morality of results.

Will goes on to cite David Keene's essay in the September/October issue of the magazine and concludes:

"It is a pity that TR built the Panama Canal. If he had not, "national greatness" and "heroic" conservatives could invest their overflowing energies and vaulting ambitions into building it, and other conservatives
-- call them mere realists -- could continue seeking limited government, grounded in cognizance of government's limited competences. That is an idealism consonant with the nation's actual greatness."

But the question is whether Will speaks for a new generation of conservatives--the younger ones would reject this position, it seems.
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