[T]here is a flaw in the vision the Republicans offered in Tampa. It is contained in its rampant hyperindividualism. Speaker after speaker celebrated the solitary and heroic individual. There was almost no talk of community and compassionate conservatism. There was certainly no conservatism as Edmund Burke understood it, in which individuals are embedded in webs of customs, traditions, habits and governing institutions.As Roger L. Simon points out (via Instapundit):
Hello, where were you, David? On Thursday evening, one after the other private citizen came forth to testify to Mitt Romney’s extraordinary personal charity and deep community spirit. I have never seen anything like it at a convention, Republican or Democrat. I don’t know if you would call it Burkean, but you would certainly call it eminently decent and highly laudable. The culmination was Ted and Pat Oparowsky of New Hampshire who recounted how much time and attention the young Mitt Romney gave their son, a child he did not know, when the boy was dying of cancer.Maybe Brooks skitters away from the part of the web of customs, traditions, habits and governing institutions that is religion.
I'd love to see Brooks write another column and explain — if this is what he thinks — that the compassionate, communitarian activities done within religion don't count as part of a political party's vision for America. Perhaps these activities are like the good things you do for your family and friends. It's a group of insiders, and someone operating within government needs a "vision" that relates to the whole community, not to groups that give each other special treatment.
But I don't think he'll be able to prop up his old Edmund Burke ventriloquist doll to say that. Brooks will need to come out and say it on his own. And then we can judge whether David Brooks represents conservatism (even for NYT op-ed page purposes).