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December 17, 2007

All I Want for Christmas Is Fred Thompson


Mitt Romney said it best in last week’s debate: “We're not going to get the White House nor strengthen America unless we can pull together the coalition of conservatives and conservative thought that has made us successful as a party. And that's social conservatives. It's also economic conservatives. And foreign policy and defense conservatives.”

Indeed, since Ronald Reagan won the battle for the spirit of the Grand Old Party nearly three decades ago, the goal of Republicans has been to select the candidate who best embodies all three prongs of conservatism, and at the same time maintains a real chance of winning the general election. Unfortunately, by now, it goes without saying that this year’s Republican field has offered too few choices that meet the standard.


For starters, a Reagan conservative must by definition eliminate Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee right off the bat. Giuliani’s indisputable social liberalism is not even compensated for with a counterweight of fiscal conservatism. Huckabee has the social conservatism locked up, but that is all he has locked up. His ignorance of foreign policy issues competes with his progressive embrace of big government over the title of Huckilles’ Heel.


This is not to mention that both would face certain threats in the general election from third parties, such as the socially conservative Constitution Party, which would have a field day with Giuliani (it even ran against George W. Bush), and the strong Libertarian Party which would take more than enough votes from Huckabee in the purple states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to hand the Democrats a victory.


John McCain and Mitt Romney do reach at least the outer rings of social, fiscal, and defense conservatism. And McCain does deserve major props for speaking out against agricultural subsidies right smack in the middle of Iowa, while Giuliani and Romney did the opposite only a few weeks ago.


But a look at McCain’s fiscal record, highlighted by his ardent opposition to the same Bush tax cuts that have given us both cash and a growing economy over the last few years, is quite disconcerting. We also cannot forget McCain’s leadership role in promoting the disastrous amnesty bill that would have gravely harmed the country had it become law.


Romney today claims many of the positions that would be widely considered to be “conservative.” But he did start claiming them only a couple of years ago. Even if you wholeheartedly trust that Romney’s conversions are sincere and not resultant of political convenience, you must inevitably worry that once he sits in the Oval Office, he is just as capable of having legitimate conversions on any issue and in any direction. It takes too much faith to jump these hurdles, and for many, the four-year leadership of the free world is not worth the risk.


This leaves us with Fred Thompson, who, ironically, is the candidate best described by Romney’s words about the Republican tripod. In short, Thompson holds the same conservative positions of all the other candidates combined, and has none of their flaws. In fact, any close observer of the campaign season would tell you that Thompson has been on the receiving end of barely any substantive attacks on policy issues. This is no coincidence. And it is the reason he has had to bear the brunt of shallow attacks about his demeanor, campaigning style, and laziness (whatever that means).


Thompson is a demonstrably viable candidate with solid conservative positions across the board, and unlike Mitt Romney, whose continued defense of his sometimes liberal record puts a dent in his newfound conservatism, Thompson has not budged on the issues since running for office in 1994.


Unlike Giuliani, Thompson is an undisputed social conservative, with the National Right to Life endorsement to prove it. And unlike Huckabee and McCain, he is an economic conservative who was given high marks by organizations such as the Club for Growth, and whose flat tax and Social Security plans were praised by editorial boards across the country. Thompson’s courageous and spot-on designation of the National Education Association as the primary obstacle to education in this country also shows a remarkable divergence with Huckabee, who was recently endorsed by the NEA’s New Hampshire affiliate.


And your top concern is that he is “lazy” enough to drive around in a golf cart?


Thompson’s plan emphasizing border security and opposition to amnesty also stands in stark contrast to McCain and Huckabee’s weaknesses on illegal immigration. And unlike the other candidates, most notably Huckabee, Thompson reassuringly has extensive foreign policy experience, and identifies national security as his top priority in light of the greater war against expansionist Islamic radicalism.


And you complain that you don’t adore his speaking style?


You know a candidate is solid when his biggest problem is his unwillingness to follow the pack on campaigning styles. You know you can trust a candidate when, unlike his opponents, he is regularly unmentioned by accuracy watchdogs like FactCheck.org following debates. And you know what you’re getting in a candidate whose campaign rhetoric so closely matches his legislative record.


This Christmas, I want a Republican nominee who is both consistently conservative and viable in the general election. Fred Dalton Thompson is that nominee.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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