It appears the movement to draft Fred Thompson into the 2008 presidential race is gaining steam. The former Tennessee senator, lawyer and actor’s appearance on Fox News Sunday a few weeks ago has re-energized the right in a way that no one else in the race has come close to doing. Why? Because he is truly one of us and because he can win.
Think of the assets touted by Rudy Giuliani’s followers; that he’s a tax-cutting, small government, fiscal conservative who’s tough on crime and terrorism. Thompson is all of these, plus he is free of the liberal baggage that front-running Rudy drags around like a ball and chain while campaigning in the red states.
Although Mitt Romney and Rudy make promises about nominating originalist justices to the Supreme Court, Thompson actually has practical experience, having been named by President Bush to shepherd John Roberts through the minefield that is the modern nomination process. He succeeded spectacularly, securing 78 votes while peeling off half of Senate Democrats in favor of Roberts’ confirmation.
While his views on illegal immigration are a bit vague, Thompson is steadfastly pro-life, pro-gun, pro-military, pro-traditional marriage and pro-choice in matters of school vouchers. In short, he is at least as conservative as Ronald Reagan, and, given the Gipper’s record on immigration, maybe even more so.
About the only concrete objection conservatives share is Thompson’s support of the noxious Campaign Finance Reform bill of his good buddy John McCain. In fact, rumor has it that his possible candidacy is contingent on the faltering of McCain’s. A hint could be in his evolving ideas about CFR: “I’m not prepared to go there yet, but I wonder if we shouldn’t just take off the limits and have full disclosure with harsh penalties for not reporting everything on the Internet immediately.”
As far as the crowd who will vote for anyone who can beat Mrs. Bill Clinton, consider the following: Which is more likely, that the extremely polarizing Hillary can appeal to red state NASCAR dads, or that TV and movie star Thompson — with his deep voice and folksy, reassuring, Reagan-like manner — can woo the ever-anxious, blue state soccer moms? Let’s face it; the man is a six feet, five inches tall tower of walking gravitas whose rugged, rural demeanor will have the ladies swooning from coast to coast.
Of course, we will soon be hearing from the mainstream media that he is “only an actor” and that his some of his acting took place on the taxpayer’s nickel; although most of his work on Law & Order in the final year of his term took place during the Labor Day recess. Unlike say, John F. Kerry who missed two-thirds of Senate roll call votes while out on the hustings in 2004.
Perhaps the most attractive thing about a possible Thompson run is that he doesn’t give the impression that he thirsts for the job like a fish for water and doesn’t seem particularly rushed into seeking it; he playfully hints that he might even wait until October to declare his intentions. He puts his presidential aspirations this way: “One advantage you have in not, you know, having this as lifelong ambition is that if it turns out that your calculation is wrong, it’s not the end of the world.”
This refreshing attitude was evident when he recently tackled that sacred cow of pacifism, Mahatma Gandhi. Subbing on the Paul Harvey show, he pointed out that during World War II, Gandhi urged the British people to surrender to the Nazis and later opined that the Jews “should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. Collective suicide would have been heroism.” Thompson concluded:
The so-called peace movement certainly has the right to make Gandhi’s way their way, but their efforts to make collective suicide American foreign policy just won’t cut it in this country. When American’s think of heroism, we think of the young American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, risking their lives to prevent another Adolph Hitler or Saddam Hussein. Gandhi probably wouldn’t approve, but I can live with that.
And if that’s not enough to get you excited about the hunt for a Fred October, consider this from a John Fund interview in the Wall Street Journal: “So how would he campaign against Democratic millionaires he used to serve in the Senate with, such as Hillary Clinton or John Edwards? He smiles and says he has plenty of zingers and points he would make but it’s premature to discuss them.”