COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM…. A couple of weeks ago, reflecting on his eight years of service with George W. Bush, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley praised his boss’ greatest personal strength: “He has got this great compassion which was not just a slogan, ‘compassionate conservative.’ It is who he is. It is one of the great things he brought to this office.”

At this point, the very idea of “compassionate conservatism” is something of a punch-line. Americans have come to see it as an empty rhetorical slogan, and no one takes it seriously anymore.

And yet, Bush is still using it, as if the line hadn’t been thoroughly discredited.

President Bush called for a “compassionate” Republican Party and warned against the GOP becoming “anti-immigrant” in one of his last interviews as president, defending his vision of the party, which has become unpopular among some Republicans.

“It’s very important for our party not to narrow its focus, not to become so inward-looking that we drive people away from a philosophy that is compassionate and decent,” the president said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” that was aired yesterday…. [I]n the interview, Bush used the phrase that marked his 2000 campaign, saying, “We’ve got to be compassionate conservatives.”

I wonder if Bush has any idea how ridiculous this sounds coming from him. We’re talking about a president who vetoed funding for healthcare for poor children (twice). We’re talking about a president who tried to cut food assistance to 420,000 low-income seniors.

Bush has utilized torture. He launched an unnecessary war, killing thousands and causing a massive refugee problem. He seemed criminally unconcerned when a hurricane nearly destroyed a major American city.

“We’ve got to be compassionate conservatives.” Sure, Mr. President. Tell us another one.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.