Josh Patashnik’s defense of Michael Gerson’s conservatism (or, at least, his lack of Great Society liberalism) is confounding:
[A]ll indications are that his actual agenda is hardly revolutionary. He likes S-CHIP, but not, in his words, “government-run universal health care”; he wants more racial reconciliation, but eschews grand ’70s-era social engineering schemes like forced busing. He has no apparent interest in Nixon-era wage and price controls. His favorite programs are ones like Bush’s 2003 AIDS initiative–whose price tag of $3 billion a year isn’t exactly busting the budget.
Is he serious? Gerson isn’t a liberal because he doesn’t support wage and price controls? I’m pretty sure no one supports wage and price controls. Or, for that matter, busing. All support for those policies was abandoned by the mid-1980s. If Patashnik can name anyone – left or right – within the US political mainstream today who has said anything remotely positive (or even anything period) about wage/price controls and busing, I’ll be impressed, because I’m fairly certain that the proponents of those policies lost the debate before I was born.
For what it’s worth, I think Gerson’s just a regular Christian Democrat, socially restrictionist and supportive of a limited welfare state; it’s the predominant conservative ideology in Europe and Latin America. It’s only considered weird because the US political spectrum is itself pretty out of synch with the rest of the world.