Fred Thompson is shaking up the GOP presidential field. And he's not even running yet.I think it shows how starved we are for someone who can run on his record and we can trust won't stab his party in the back.
So too may Fred Thompson. When we meet on Thursday night, it's only been four days since he appeared on Fox News to merely announce he was "looking at" running. Chuck Todd, the political director of NBC News, notes in amazement how "a retired senator can show a tiny bit of interest and literally shake up the race overnight."
And he is shaking up the race. Every GOP candidate is nervously watching the reaction to his possible entry. J.C. Watts, an Oklahoma congressman from 1995 to 2003, has endorsed him: "I define Fred Thompson as AC, what's AC? All class."
I was struck by the way Thompson answered the questions in contrast to the way McCain did. Thompson was straightforward and could give a good defense for his positions (well, he is a lawyer after all):
Many on the right remain angry he supported the campaign finance law sponsored by his friend John McCain. "There are problems with people giving politicians large sums of money and then asking them to pass legislation," Mr. Thompson says. Still, he notes he proposed the amendment to raise the $1,000 per person "hard money" federal contribution limit.He also sounded like he was running. He gave a "I like the other guys but...." kind of answer:
Conceding that McCain-Feingold hasn't worked as intended, and is being riddled with new loopholes, he throws his hands open in exasperation. "I'm not prepared to go there yet, but I wonder if we shouldn't just take off the limits and have full disclosure with harsh penalties for not reporting everything on the Internet immediately."
Mr. Thompson has also been criticized for failing to back some comprehensive tort-reform bills because of his background as a trial lawyer. Here he insists his stance was based on grounds of federalism. "I'm consistent. I address Federalist Society meetings," he says, noting that more issues should be left to the states. For example, he cast the lonely "nay" in 99-1 votes against a national 0.8% blood alcohol level for drivers, a federal law banning guns in schools, and a measure limiting the tort liability of Good Samaritans. "Washington overreaches, and by doing so ends up not doing well the basics people really care about." Think Katrina and Walter Reed.
But Mr. Thompson appears serene about all the speculation swirling around him. "Those running are all good guys, and would be good presidents," he says leaning back in a recliner. "But there are truly vital issues--from the looming entitlement crisis to nuclear proliferation--I'm not afraid to talk about. Lots of people have such a low regard for politicians that they're open to a campaign that would be completely different."But what really struck me in this interview was the brilliance of his campaign strategy. It would be a campaign that would reflect the Zeitgeist of the party. We are sick of Washington and the Republican establishment. He is part of that establishment but he's running as a reformer. This is exactly what the base is looking for, someone who knows the problem and isn't afraid to face it. Problems that Bush and the current crop of Republicans have failed to address. This is the way that McCain would probably like to run but can't because he is part of the problem:
Indeed, the federal government's inability to function effectively would likely be a major theme of any Thompson campaign. "Audits have shown we've lost control of the waste and mismanagement in our most important agencies. It's getting so bad it's affecting our national security."(via)
Mr. Thompson says that while a senator he was long concerned with U.S. intelligence failures. "The CIA has better politicians than it has spies," he says, referring to the internecine turf wars that have been a feature of the Bush administration.
A key problem, Mr. Thompson notes, is a general lack of accountability in government, where no one pays any price for failure. When asked about President Bush's awarding the Medal of Freedom to outgoing CIA Director George Tenet after U.S. intelligence failures in Iraq became apparent, he shakes his head: "I just didn't understand that."
The next president, according to Mr. Thompson, needs to exercise strong leadership "and get down in the weeds and fix a civil-service system that makes it too hard to hire good employees and too hard to fire bad ones." He doesn't offer specifics on what to do, but notes the "insanity" of the new Congress pushing for the unionization of homeland security employees only five years after it rejected the notion in the wake of 9/11. "Should we tie ourselves up in bureaucratic knots with the challenges we may have to face?" he asks in wonderment.
On domestic issues, Mr. Thompson says a major reason Republicans lost last November was that they aided and abetted runaway government spending. Yet Democrats, he contends, are incapable of following through on their pledges to be fiscally prudent. "Their political coalition needs more revenue like a car requires gasoline," he laughs. "Reagan showed what can be done if you have the will to push for tough choices and the ability to ask the people to accept them."
Read the rest of the article. His positions are in line with Reagan's on taxes, the growth of government, he is solidly behind the war on terror and he's for a tough stand against Iran. He's the one the party should have as it's spokesman, the advocate for our beliefs, to go out there and sell conservatism the way Reagan did. After eight years of Bush's brand of compassionate conservatism it would be a welcome relief.
BTW, you people who come here and want to push your candidate will not find me to be receptive. I will support the party's nominee but I won't change my mind on Thompson. I know the strengths and weakness of all the candidates in the race and I have reasons for not supporting them, so I won't be swayed by you to support your candidate. I'm just not interested, so don't even try. If Thompson doesn't run, then we can talk.