I’ve read a lot of stuff like this:
The only truly interesting aspect of the current presidential precampaign has been the growing interest shown in someone who is not – officially, at least – actually running. While a dozen or so each of Democrats and Republicans jet anxiously around the country, raising money and pretending to debate one another, former Senator Fred Thompson sits back and watches his portfolio appreciate daily.
Well, so much for that. Here’s The Politico:
Fred Dalton Thompson plans to enter the presidential race with a bang over the Fourth of July holiday, announcing that week that he has already raised several million dollars and is being backed by insiders from the past three Republican administrations, Thompson advisers told The Politico.
Wait…so you mean he hasn’t been hanging out in Tennessee waiting for Ronald Reagan to rise from the dead and anoint him with oil from ANWR as the right’s great savior? You mean he’s been raising money, strategizing, and doing all the things that–gasp!–men who want to be president do? He’s not The Hero of the Common Man, content to let The Will of the People pull him in and, if it so desires, push him to the top?
Well, no. He’s a politician, just like the rest of the field. He doesn’t even live in Tennessee; he hangs out here in Northern Virginia. And he doesn’t think we just need somebody with courage, integrity, and conservative convictions–he thinks we need him, personally. How do I know that? Well, look what he said in 1999:
“When it comes to personal courage and integrity and the courage to do what he thinks is right, regardless of whether or not it’s particularly popular at the moment, John McCain has shown characteristics of leadership like no one else I’ve ever seen.”
He also said of Senator McCain, for whom he served as national co-chairman:
He’s not a wishy-washy conservative. If you look at his voting record over his entire career, whether you look at the conservative’s rating or the liberal’s ratings, John McCain is a conservative by any measure. He’s been right there on all the conservative core issues his entire career. They’re misrepresenting the effect of campaign finance reform. What John McCain recognizes is that it takes money in politics, but he thinks there should be some reasonable limit on it.
I guess his red pickup truck was so humble it didn’t have a mirror in it, because obviously Senator Thompson has changed his mind since then. (Maybe it was at the Mayflower. They have mirrors; I can vouch.)
Now, on this sainted day, let’s run down some of the things that will make Senator Thompson the real “true conservative” in the race.
1. Unlike Mayor Giuliani, his personal life won’t make evangelicals cringe, since his “self-admittedly promiscuous period ” (The Politico‘s characterization) came after his first and only divorce, rather than as a cause of his second. Or if they didn’t give you that memo on the True Conservative Survivor Island, here’s the Washington Post:
A case in point about Thompson’s undeniable allure: At an April 18 gathering of about 60 members of Congress, organized by Rep. Zach Wamp, a Tennessee Republican, Thompson was asked about his dating history during the nearly two decades between his two marriages. In response, the one-time beau of country music singer Lorrie Morgan offered an honest assessment of his romantic history. “I was single for a long time, and, yep, I chased a lot of women,” he said. “And a lot of women chased me. And those that chased me tended to catch me.”
Okay evangelicals–that’s your cue to laugh. Hilarious, isn’t it? Okay, next point.
2. He’s clearly much more conservative than Senator McCain, especially since he served as McCain’s national co-chairman in 2000 and one of his few Senate priorities was getting McCain-Feingold (which has been so wonderful for social conservatives) passed. Oh, wait…
3. He’s clearly much more conservative than Governor Romney, since he also used to be pro-choice. He’s also never flip-flopped, since it’s not as if he’s now running against someone he previously said had “shown characteristics of leadership like no one else I’ve ever seen.”
Hmm. Okay, this is proving more difficult than I had thought. Well, did I mention that it costs ten bucks to vote for him?
UPDATE: If you are new to EFM, as a lot of readers of this post seem to be today, please do read the above in context. We have been posting on what we call the “Conservative Messiah Watch” or the search for a “True Conservative” for some time, as you can verify by using our Search feature. We have said repeatedly–including as recently as Monday–that Senator Thompson is a good man with some great conservative ideas, a good senator, far superior to the other Tennessean who might run for president, and a whole bunch of other nice things. But that doesn’t make him our nominee of choice, much less the Superman that many–to our frustration–persist in making him out to be. We’re not moderates here, not by any stretch, but there’s a big difference between searching for a conservative alternative and descending into absurdity. Governor Romney is a conservative alternative. So, in my home state, was Pat Toomey. But I wonder if in today’s process the latter would get the hero’s welcome he received from conservatives in 2004 thanks to his overwhelmingly solid record–or sideways glances until a “true conservative” arrived, since even he is a convert on the abortion issue.