WHAT MAKES A CONSERVATIVE? Fred Barnes writes about Bush's favorite foreigners:

The president's favorites don't have to be conservatives. Blair dislikes American economic policy. Merkel has urged that Guant´┐Żnamo prison be closed. Rasmussen has worried aloud about abuse at Abu Ghraib prison and possible murders at Haditha in Iraq. But, an aide says, "the president is looking for people who see the world as he sees it." That means, at a minimum, they support his post-invasion policy in Iraq and regard the spread of democracy as important.

Am I correct in reading these remarks about Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as implying that not worrying about abuse and murder is actually constitutive of what Barnes thinks it means to be a conservative? By normal standards, after all, Rasmussen is a conservative. He leads Denmark's free market party and governs in coalition with the Conservative People's Party. His main economic policy agenda item has been tax cuts and he backed the invasion of Iraq. But because he's against abusing prisoners and murdering random civilians, Bush's affection for him is a sign of ideological heterodoxy in the White House -- a very strange perspective for the most pro-Bush writer on the planet to adopt.

--Matthew Yglesias

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