Every four years, Americans wonder why there are no good, honest, steadfast candidates for President. They wonder why all the candidates shamelessly pander to the media, and proceed to blatantly misrepresent their records. Every year, they pledge that if a superior, resolute candidate ever runs for President, he will certainly have their vote.
Then when one comes along, they reject him. Fred Thompson is everything voters claim they want—reasonably honest, consistent, intelligent and unimpeachable ideologically.
In addition, he is far better than other Republican candidate. He has not experienced any of the convenient conversions of Mitt Romney. Neither does he support health care mandates and gun control laws, as the Massachusetts governor does. He lacks all of Rudy Giuliani’s many weaknesses, whether it be on guns, abortion, gay rights, or immigration. He is far better than McCain or Huckabee—their positions on immigration should be enough to keep them from the nomination. The only blot on Thompson’s conservative record is his unfortunate support of the disastrous McCain-Feingold Act. With that exception, his conservative credentials are perfect—and precisely what GOP voters claim they want.
But he is a poor campaigner, so voters reject him en masse.
Is shaking hands in Iowa restaurants still that crucial? In the days before 24/7 media coverage, that sort of thing gave voters a chance to see the candidate. But in the day of 24-hour news, C-SPAN, and YouTube, shouldn’t voters make their choices based on something other than campaign stops?
It is not as if voters lack chances to see Thompson for themselves. He has appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio and TV programs many times, and is a frequent guest on Laura Ingraham’s and Mark Levin’s shows as well. If you are truly obsessed with getting to know the candidates, C-SPAN displays hours of campaign footage. A limited number of live appearances is no reason to vote against him.
Even so, it would be at least understandable if Thompson was losing to Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani, who, despite the fact that they are not conservatives, are at least qualified to be President. Mitt Romney’s years of valuable business experience make him a desirable candidate, and whether one likes or dislikes Rudy Giuliani (I am in the “dislike” camp), it is impossible to deny that he did a truly amazing job both before and after 9/11. Both of these candidates are comparable to Thompson, and voters could be excused for supporting them over Fred.
But Mike Huckabee and John McCain? The fact that these individuals are the current Republican frontrunners should dispel any notions that Republicans are smarter than Democrats.
Republicans were outraged over the infamous amnesty bill this summer. The bill’s biggest proponent was John McCain, who accused those who disagreed with him of anti-Hispanic bigotry. Republicans claim to be against extensive government effort to combat global warming. John McCain isn’t. He voted against the Bush tax cuts, and supported the now more-or-less discredited embryonic stem cell research. And he is one of the Republican frontrunners?
The bad news is that he is the better frontrunner. I’m not sure how qualified Mike Huckabee was to be a governor, much less a President. He seems to make policies out of thin air, and frequently appears unaware of the world around him. For example, he seemed to think that he was going on David Letterman’s show instead of Jay Leno’s on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, and was unaware of the NIE report over 24 hours after it was released. The first isn’t very important (though it is revealing), but the second… His record as Arkansas governor wasn’t as bad as some believe—but it wasn’t very good either.
But Huckabee is a frontrunner in this race, based solely on his charisma. Granted, Huckabee is a convincing guy—I’m pretty sure that if he had not gone for politics or religion, he would be a traveling salesman going from town to town selling little pills you drop in your gas tank to give your car 100 mpg gas mileage. Voters know his weaknesses on the issues, as National Review, Rush Limbaugh, and Laura Ingraham, among many others, have been highly critical of him. But the Huckster comes in, does his aw-shucks Jim Nabors impression, and Shazam!--he is a GOP frontrunner.
It doesn’t say much about the intelligence of Republican primary voters that they unerringly seek out the two worst candidates for their support.