Not too many are happy with the current, official GOP candidates. Including me.
I was initially thrilled with the Giuliani candidacy; he was, after all, America’s Mayor, and he is tough on terror and tough on crime and tough on bad budgets. Sure, he’s a bit wobbly on social issues, but that’s the direction the electorate is moving, anyway. But then Rudy decided to thumb his nose at social conservatives, almost taunting them with his pronouncements on abortion and gay rights. It’s one thing to support a candidate who doesn’t fully mesh with the base; it’s quite another to stand for a guy who deliberately draws sharp contrasts against the base for the edification of social liberals who aren’t going to vote for him anyway.
I supported John McCain’s early bid; he stood firmly with President Bush on the War on Terror, and he worked hard in the Senate before abdicating to run a full-time campaign. But how tone-deaf do you have to be to sponsor legislation with Democrats that seems designed to run the GOP into the ground? McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy — has the gentleman from Arizona ever met a bad policy he wasn’t willing to consponsor for the sake of a glowing New York Times editorial? Immigration amnesty was just the last straw. I regret sending him $20.
Mitt Romney does nothing for me. I don’t care that he’s a Mormon. I don’t care that he was a Republican governor of the Bay State. I do care that I know very little about him, and what I do know seems depressingly contradictory. Pick a story and stay with it, please, Mr. Romney.
And the minor candidates? They’re minor for a reason. Not worth mentioning.
That leaves, of course, the Grand Old Elephant in the corner: Fred Dalton Thompson.
I remember when Thompson left the Senate. I thought that he was one of the few members of Congress that I’d enthusiastically support for higher office. Why? Because he’s a decent guy.
Decent — I don’t choose that word lightly. Thompson seems authentic, even “earthy.” His response to Michael Moore was absolutely perfect. His radio commentary and his recent flurry of printed opinion pieces is reminiscent of Reagan’s groundwork during the Carter malaise. Thompson strikes me as the kind of person who is pragmatic and whose values and outlook are more in sync with America than the Beltway.
In the current National Review, David Frum makes an interesting argument that the GOP needs a strong candidate who responds to the needs of today, just as Reagan responded to the needs of his day. We do not need a candidate who has lost his bearings, who tries to be a doctrinaire Reaganite or a Rockefeller Republican, for today’s political reality doesn’t favor pure Reaganism or any other named variant of Republicanism. We do need someone who has a clear vision of the strengths and weaknesses of America in 2007, and has a reasonable program for promoting our strengths while shoring up our weaknesses.
On balance, Thompson seems to be the most visionary. He seems to be the only candidate interested in laying out a sustained argument not just for the WHAT of his policy proscriptions, but also for the WHY. This is a good thing. We’ve spent far too much time with a deficit of persuasion coming from the hallowed halls of our nation’s capital.
There seems to be a groundswell of support for Fred Thompson. I hope this continues, and I hope he proves to be the candidate we need.