As I was reading a recent article regarding Alan Keyes' decision to kick his 19 year old daughter Maya out of the house (and refuse her college assistance) because she admitted to being a lesbian, it struck me how conservatives' views on their major "values" (read "moral") issues seem to consistantly have 4 common characteristics: First, they are passionate almost to the point of pugilism (maybe even all the way!) when defending them, often with a hateful intolerance not dissimilar to segregationists in the 50s and 60s (and white supremacists of today). Second, they usually involve the imposition of personal beliefs & opinions on others, even though others actions have no practical or direct impact on said conservative. Third, they usually involve emotion and little science, common sense, or reflection of reality. And last, when confronted directly with the reality of these issues in their own lives, they make an exception showing compassion and acceptance (Mr. Keyes being a notable exception to this).
One conclusion one can draw is that conservatives view life as a perfect plan, or maybe a perfect pre-plan. No room for discussion, no room for compassion, no room for anyone or anything who does not look and think as I do. But if and when a reality hits their insulated existance, they are forced to see the world through a different lens. I can think of 3 prominent examples off-hand, there are probably dozens more if I put some time into it. Dick Cheney, and his "softened" stand on homosexuality (which tells me he has more character, believe it or not, than Mr. Keyes). Nancy Reagan, and her support of expanded stem cell research. And in the corporate world, Bill Safire's opposition to media consolidation (good for other industries, but not one that threatens his livelihood). We won't see any ground given on homeless or poverty issues, as these folks are very unlikely to touch that issue directly.
I see this all the time at the local level as I live in a relatively conservative community. Its a provide for your own family, be tough attitude until you have a child with a physical or mental disability. Then its open the floodgates for government programs. Anti-choice, until my 15 year old daughter comes home pregnant. And pro-invasion, until my 19 year old son has to go to Iraq. Conservative values are theoretical, until reality comes home to roost.