It still boggles my mind that the focus-group-derived phrase "compassionate conservative" still gets used with a straight face. If you don't giggle at the phrase, you're still left tacitly acknowledging that conservatism (minus the modifier) lacks compassion as currently practiced. Which sounds about right to me.

We've had a couple of real compassionate conservatives in the White House in the past quarter-century (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton), and they didn't have to use some stupid catchphrase to remind you how compassionate they were - at least "I feel your pain", and other such things, wasn't trotted out on an hourly basis ("Is the cameras rollin', sweetheart?") And, of course, Clinton showed his Bushian compassion, once upon a time, by hyping the compassionate lethal injection of Ricky Ray Rector during the '92 campaign.