Brooks is saying something that makes sense. It's about messaging. Yes conservatives care about the poor primarily in that they want to lift people out of it. It's how you prtray your policies to the electorate.
Brooks makes a good example with the school voucher issue.
"Education innovation and school choice are not needed to fight rapacious unions and bureaucrats—too often the most prominent focus of conservative education concerns—but because poor children and their parents deserve better schools."
Stick to your principles and policies but explain them in ways that show the benefit that the poor will derive from them.