Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Is Fred Thompson Really The GOP Savior?

The news has been awash lately with how unhappy wingnuts are with the 10 choices they currently have for the Republican nomination for president. Fred Thompson, actor and former senator, has become a kind of winger panacea as many conservatives and Repubs longingly hope he joins the race and becomes a "real conservative" they can back in the '08 race.

Only one problem with that - he may not be so acceptable to conservatives after all on some key issues like abortion and medical malpractice reform:

Project Vote Smart, which compiles voting records and other background materials on politicians, has finally put up its page on Fred Thompson.


Mr. Thompson filled out a survey for Project Vote Smart back in 1994, when he was running for Senate. While it's mostly pretty predictable (boo foreign aid, yay low taxes), there are a few parts worth scrutinizing... (see: abortion, education, AIDS)

* Under health care: Mr. Thompson's already gotten in a scrape with National Review for not supporting federal medical malpractice reform while in Congress. In this survey, he notes his opposition to it — so, at least he was consistent. He also declined to check the box supporting deregulation of private health care.

* Under unemployment: He doesn't support Jack Kemp-style "enterprise zones," with low taxes to attract businesses, in urban areas.

* Under trade: He does not support expanding NAFTA to the rest of Latin America. He does, however, want to open up markets on the Pacific Rim.

* Under education: He does not support nationwide standards, such as those that would later be included in No Child Left Behind. He does, on the other hand, support vouchers. (He also declined to check the box for "Eliminate the U.S. Department of Education." Back in 1994, plenty of Republicans still did want to eliminate it. Some of us would still like to do so today.)

* Under abortion: He checked the box for: "Abortions should be legal in all circumstances as long as the procedure is completed within the first trimester of the pregnancy." He did, however, support a number of restrictions on abortion: requiring parental notification, allowing states to impose waiting periods, and eliminating all federal funding of abortion. Lastly, he said Congress should leave legislation on abortion to the states.

Couple the above information with Robert Novak's critical column of Thompson's May 4th speech to the Lincoln Club of Orange County ("Man Who Would Be Reagan Doesn't Wow 'Em") and you start to wonder whether Thompson will become the General Wes Clark of '08 - a late-entering candidate who joins the race to fill a particular need for the party base and goes ultimately nowhere. Granted, Thompson has a much higher profile than Clark did, owing to his years on TV and in film, but I'm sensing the same dynamic around his candidacy that I did around Clark's - the supposed savior who saves nothing.

There is one difference between Clark and Thompson, however. Media people like Chris Matthews and Margaret Carlson all get wet at the mention of his name, which gives Thompson a leg up over somebody like Clark. Still, there has to be some substance and energy behind the hype and Novak suggests that may be lacking so far, no matter how hot and bothered Tweety Bird Matthews gets over the possibility of Thompson candidacy.

Thomson is pulling like 17% on intertrade. Almost twice what Gore is pulling on the Democratic side. Granted, less competition on the Republican side, but an unannounced candidate to having over half the front-runners numbers indicates to me that the guy could go somewhere if he chooses to.
I wonder what Wes Clark was pulling before he got in in late 2003? Remember that anti-Dean people were looking for an "electable candidate" who could compete w/ Bush and not get tarred as a left-wing nut case. We all finally settled on Kerry as that guy. But we were all longing for somebody.

I still maintain that most of the people longing for Thompson to enter the race do not know what he stands for and who he stands with. They're simply projecting they're own desires on him. Add that to the fact that insiders say Thompson is an uneasy candidate who may not have the "fire in the belly" it takes to run and win and you have a wishy-washy candidate who changes the dynamic of the race but doesn't have the chance to win.

Could he go somewhere in the race? Sure. Will he? Doubtful.
Good analysis all the way around.
Thanks, pt.

Good luck getting your MBA. I've been debating going back to school to get a Ph.d in something. I'm up for sabbatical in two years, so I may start the process then. Anyway, have fun at it.
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