The Conservative Choice
It is growing very close to the point at which the Republican Party will be forced to make a definitive choice of their Presidential nominee. The conventional wisdom was not correct—it turned out that the early states, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, did not give a huge momentum shift to any candidate. At this point, the race for the GOP nomination is pretty wide open.
This race started almost a year ago. We know everything there is to know about the candidates. We know everything imaginable about their positions, past and present. We know everything about their past lives. Their past records are open books. We have all the information needed to make a good, informed choice.
The longer this race has dragged on, the more I feel as if the only acceptable conservative in the race is Fred D. Thompson. The rest of the field would spell disaster, both ideologically and electorally (with one exception).
The flaws of the other candidates are hardly worth pointing out, as they are well-known. Rudy Giuliani’s pro-abortion beliefs disqualify him from consideration in many people’s minds (including mine). In addition, his beliefs regarding the Second Amendment and global warming should seal his fate.
Mike Huckabee is not ready for the White House. He does have some very strong points (he is great on abortion), and his weak points are often overstated (he wasn’t a disaster in Arkansas), but his statements on the campaign trail tend to call into question his judgment. He calls for the FairTax, which is a weak and shortsighted tax reform scheme, has called America’s foreign policy arrogant, and has exhibited many big government tendencies. I like Huckabee better than most conservatives, and would like to see him in Washington. Just not in the White House.
John McCain, to give him his due, is very, very good on the War on Terror. There is no denying that George Bush horribly mismanaged the war. Had McCain been President, the Iraq War would almost certainly have been better managed. (This is not to say that McCain would have been a better President than Bush. He would have been much weaker on other issues).
However, his weaknesses are as significant as his strengths. He supports amnesty, which most conservatives agree would be disastrous. He opposed the Bush tax cuts, and believes in government action to prevent global warming. He is no conservative.
John McCain is not a conservative, but he may have the best chance of any GOP candidate of winning the general election. While most polls have little predicative value, virtually all polls taken show McCain with the best chance in the general election. Were he to get the nomination, the Republicans would have their best shot at keeping the White House. The question is: is it worth giving up conservatism in order to keep a socialist (any of the Democrats fits the bill) out of the White House? I would argue that it is not worth it. We should be defined by who we are (conservatives) rather than who we are not.
Like McCain, Mitt Romney is an interesting case. He holds nearly all the positions conservatives do. However, his sincerity has been called into question. It is hard, when watching Romney, to believe that his conversion on social issues, such as abortion, is sincere. He seems to have switched purely because of political expediency. He doesn’t seem to be a closet pro-choicer—he just doesn’t seem to much care either way.
In addition, he has shown weakness on immigration in the past. He still supports the Brady Bill. He may not have opposed the Bush tax cuts, but he certainly didn’t vocally support them. He seems to have picked his conservative positions simply to market himself to conservatives—he does not seem to feel passionately about his beliefs.
This brings us to Fred Thompson. He is conservative on every issue important to right-wingers. The sole exception is his support of the McCain-Feingold Act, which severely limited free speech in this country. With that exception, however, he is a nearly perfect conservative.
Without sounding like a Ron Paul supporter (Paul fans think their guy is the best politician since Jefferson or maybe even Cicero), I think it is safe to say that Fred Thompson is a remarkable, once in a decade candidate. (Ronald Reagan is the once in a lifetime candidate).
He won’t play by the established media rules. His “No hands shows” line was good—you really had to be watching it live to fully appreciate it. For the whole course of that debate, and really, for the whole course of the full schedule of debates, all of the candidates had simply accepted any silly questions the moderators had forced on them. Ridiculous YouTube questions, queries about evolution, hand shows, whatever the moderators asked of them, the candidates did. After Thompson did the unthinkable—disobeyed the Moderator—the differences between him and the other candidates seemed very apparent.
Thompson’s policies, in addition to being impeccably conservative, Thompson’s policies are also by far the most in-depth. Most of the candidates rely on one paragraph policy positions on their websites; in contrast, Thompson lays out detailed, reasonable principles.
Conservatives have been complaining about their bad choices for President for years. Fred Thompson is the man they have been searching for. If they reject him (which looks very likely at this point) they will not be able to complain when President McCain (or worse, President Clinton II) is sworn in. In 2012, when they have no good conservative options, they will not be able to find fault. Because they will have had their chance to vote for one, and failed to take it.
Fred Thompson is by far the best conservative choice. He deserves conservative support. He will have my vote, and I suggest he should have yours as well.