The term “compassionate conservatism” has a nice ring to it. But it must be asked whether the conservative goal is to be compassionate. Do the Republican party faithful, who subscribe to the tenants of the right side of the aisle, see “compassionate conservatism” as part of the program, or is the term nothing more than an oxymoron for the masses?

All one has to do is ask former Republican State Assemblymember Brooks Firestone. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of meeting this kind gentleman on many a public occasion. It is no secret that Brooks is a Republican and that he wants to represent or lead his party in the State of California. It is also no secret that he caters to “compassionate conservatism,” based on bipartisan work with Democrat State Senator Jack O’Connell. Fundamentally at odds sometimes, these two distinguished gentlemen would put the partisan bickering aside to work on the needs of the constituency.

Even though Brooks has shown a capacity to work for the constituency of our state, his bids to represent or lead the Republican Party have been compromised by those less compassionate and more power hungry than himself.

The first occurrence of this was due to none other than Atascadero’s angry little man Tom Bordonaro. I could take the opportunity here to write a nasty “hit piece” on Mr. Bordonaro, but in the honor of Brooks Firestone’s name, I refuse to stoop to that level. Instead I will only mention Mr. Bordonaro’s nasty campaign against Brooks Firestone, in which Brooks’ name was dragged through the mud and all in the name of staunch conservative politics, as usual. The sadder part of this debacle was that Mr. Bordonaro won the primary election.

Apparently, compassion was not in the minds of the voters who supported Mr. Bordonaro, as his campaign was one of hatred and bitterness toward anything compassionate, even if it would benefit those within the Republican Party.

After that experience, Brooks briefly retired from politics. And after such a smear campaign against him, who could blame him?

It was always my wish that Brooks would make a comeback into politics, in any capacity, since he is legitimately a compassionate person with morals and ethics – all qualities that are usually lacking in the political arena – and recently my wish was granted.

Recently, Brooks made a bid to become chair of California’s Republican Party, and once again his bid was ended by those party faithful that believe compassion and conservatism don’t go hand in hand.

If history is our teacher, then let it be learned that “compassionate conservatism” is as real as the square root of negative one. It is not allowed to exist, which brings us to a much bigger issue – President George W. Bush.

Ever since the origins of his campaign, Dubya preached the tenets of “compassionate conservatism” as a means to unite the nation. Though some of his political maneuvers and gestures in the way of cabinet appointments have shown that he wants to tick to the campaign’s image, the rest is absolute hogwash. His recent executive decision on foreign planned parenthood programs, the environment, and the treatment of the spy plane matter with China – among many others – have shown the campaign promise is not intact.

But did anybody expect any different from the son of a former president who relied on the services of the late Lee Atwater to head his campaign? Does anybody expect any different from a president beholden to his former president dad’s buddies from the Cold War and junk bonds era? Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice.

Dubya’s approach to presenting executive decisions is somewhat compassionate with his warm smile and Texas charm. The fact that he has a cabinet full of minority members shows some compassion. However, his decisions are anything but compassionate.

The nuttiest part of this is that we still have to contend with four more years of this brand of “compassionate conservatism.” Yes, it’s going to be a doozy.

As this is written, I can only wonder what the next example of “compassionate conservatism” will be in tomorrow’s headlines, and how it will affect us in the long run. Is this what we bargained for? I sure hope not.

Dubya is not as dumb as his critics make him out to be. Quite the contrary; we’ve been duped by a catchy phrase that had a nice ring to it and the consequences will loom for the next four years as pages upon pages of bipartisan legislation will be overturned to appease the party faithful. So much for the spirit of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. Laws to protect the environment, protect the American worker, protect a woman’s reproductive rights and anything else that would reserve some sort of compassion will now be thrown out the window under the guise of “compassionate conservatism” and a false sense of less government. Oh, we can’t forget about the tax cut, too.

I believe that “compassionate conservatism” does exist somewhere in that cold, cruel political world, but what we’re currently seeing is not what it claims to be.

If it were, the party faithful would do whatever they could to get Dubya ousted as the commander in chief. In other words, Dubya can’t afford to show “compassionate conservatism” if he wants his political future to have potential.

If, for some reason, Dubya does decide to start practicing the tenets of “compassionate conservatism,” I can only offer this advice from an ancient Greek army general: Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closest. You will be surprised how close some of your friends really are.

Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.