Dionne of course writes it to make it seem like Republicans are just heartless lovers of the rich, but he comes to this conclusion that is at least on the path to the truth:
Obama concluded: "We can debate whether or not we can afford to help them, but we shouldn't pretend somehow that they don't need help."
As neatly as anything I have seen, this exchange captured the philosophical and emotional difference between the two parties.
The point is not that Republicans are heartless and Democrats are compassionate. It's that Democrats on the whole believe in using government to correct the inequities and inefficiencies the market creates, while Republicans on the whole think market outcomes are almost always better than anything government can produce.
That's not cheap partisanship. It's a fundamental divide. The paradox is that our understanding of politics would be more realistic if we were less cynical and came to see the battle for what it really is.
The big missing thing in EJ's analysis is that Democrats (and many big government Republicans) assume that any condition CAN be dealt with on this earth -- it is just a matter of "money, smarts, technology, leadership, laws, growth, etc". They disagree with Jesus who said "the poor will always be with us".
I like to trot out death as an example of something that we can't fix, nor would we know what to do if we did--overpopulation of the starving diseased undead would make us pray fervently for death to return. Death is the big obvious item, the list is never ending -- the common cold, fat, rainy days, baldness--take them away (if we could) and we would almost certainly find that we were mistaken in our quest. The ASSUMPTION that all it takes is "government" or "markets" or whatever human construction that we can come up with to fix it is false, expensive, and often the "cure" is far worse than the "disease".
No, the BIG difference between Dionne and a great many of Republicans that are far closer to him than I or many of the truly conservative is that they believe in the ultimate perfectibility of man, and conservatives don't. What is more, Dionne, and most like him would say "at least you have to try"!!!
That is like me trying to do surgery on someone with appendicitis -- actually, worse than that. I realize it IS very possible to do such surgery, it is just that I don't know how to do it. For many of the problems that EJ and his band of do-gooders take on, they have no concept of the cost of the methods nor the llikelihood of a positive outlook (if any). They are more often than not attempting to mandate the mass butchery of one sort of thing or another by government, and feeling smug because they aren't like those evil Republicans who would try to let people decide if they wanted to be butchered, but would also try to convince them they did and make a profit off the butchery. EJ thinks he is a saint because he removes both the choice and the profit from the equation and calls butchery "a good try"!!!
The prime directive of conservatism is just like medicine; FIRST, do no harm!!!