May 6, 2007

Fred And John

Readers can tell that the media has begun to take Fred Thompson seriously as a candidate, because the profiles on him have become more sharp and land on the front pages. Today, the Washington Post takes a turn at Fred, noting the similarities between his positions and that of his friend and colleague, John McCain -- and wonders why the base pines for Fred and mostly eschews McCain:

Fred Thompson fervently backed the Iraq war, railed against an expanding federal government, took stands that occasionally annoyed his party and rarely spoke about his views on social issues during his tenure as a senator from Tennessee or in his writings and speeches since leaving office.

In short, the man some in the GOP are touting as a dream candidate has often sounded like the presidential hopeful many of them seem ready to dismiss: Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

With some in the party clamoring for an alternative to their current field of presidential contenders and Thompson's allies hinting strongly that he will run, 400 conservatives flocked to Newport Beach, Calif., on Friday night to hear the actor-turned-politician-turned-actor address the annual dinner of the Lincoln Club of Orange County, a group that credits itself with pushing Ronald Reagan to run for governor of California in the 1960s. Thompson delivered a vision of cutting taxes, reducing the size of government, overhauling Social Security and staying in Iraq until "there is some semblance of stability."

He also called for "reform-minded, change-minded leaders," a profile that McCain -- whom Thompson described as "a man of the highest integrity and courage" in 1999 when he co-chaired the Arizonan's presidential run -- has worked hard to lay claim to over the past decade. Thompson was one of only four GOP senators to back McCain's bid in 2000, and a former aide to the Tennessean said McCain "was far and away his best friend in the Senate."

The Post almost appears ready to trot out the old nickname "Maverick" for Thompson. Perry Bacon notes the more centrist positions that Fred has staked out on issues such as abortion, where he wants the GOP to avoid litmus tests. He also recalls that Thompson voted against the perjury count in the Clinton impeachment, but fails to mention that he voted for conviction on the obstruction of justice charge that would have removed Clinton from the White House had it garnered two-thirds of the Senate. His former advisor calls him "unpredictable", a quality that has infuriated Republicans in John McCain.

However, Bacon also points out that Thompson has voted with the party on most occasions. While he doesn't support banning abortions, he clearly doesn't support a Roe notion of Constitutional protection for them, either. He has almost been alone in pursuing a return to real federalism, while garnering an 86 rating from the American Conservative Union. He has the support of abortion opponents, who apparently do not see him as a problem on that issue.

Thompson also had some significant issues with McCain's policies. He supported the BCRA, but now says that campaign finance reform has done nothing to solve the problems it intended to address, and that a new approach is needed. Thompson supported the Bush tax cuts from the beginning. He also pushed back against some of McCain's bipartisan efforts, such as on the "patients bill of rights", on federalist grounds.

In the end, though, the biggest difference is trust. The base simply does not trust John McCain, not after the BCRA, the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill, and especially not after the Gang of 14. No amount of banging on podiums about the war will repair that damage in the primaries. With Thompson, the base gets the best parts of the McCain platform, with a healthy dose of federalism and lower taxes, and some measure of reliability. As much as the Post wants to tie them together, Fred and John are quite different -- and the GOP base understands that.


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Comments (9)

Posted by Ric James [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 6, 2007 11:51 AM

In the print version (which I'm holding in my hands, at the moment), the WaPo actually does apply the "Maverick" label to Fred in the headline of the continuation of the story on page A5. That headline reads, "A Conservative Maverick, Much Like McCain."

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 6, 2007 11:54 AM

It's not up to the base. Not up to ideologs. Not up to the name callers, on the right, or left.

As a matter of fact, on view, today, is france. Where you're seeing a man versus a woman contest. And, the surprise, according to the Drudge headline, is that turnout is better NOW, than it's been in 40 years.

The winnah? He's racing with a lot of steam coming from the populace.

Lincoln taught the same lesson.

When the political heads get together; the thing the smartest team will realize FIRST, is that winning is everything.

In the past? The donks didn't mind seeing the GOP walk off with presidencies. Why not? Well, the powers to the purse rest in Congress.

For Reagan? This meant finding ways to fight the Contras, that were not "according to Hoyle." But worked out fine. (Still leaving in place though, terrible problems. A rock we'd overturn when Bush went for Saddam's head. And, you can argue "with provocation. Or without it." The Saud's still haven't gotten borders moved to them, as yet.)

But people seem to be paying enough attention. So that what's going on in DC, is on the minds of some. And, is recognized by many. Whether they sort through the puzzle pieces. Or not.

The other given? Just like in France. Women vote.

If half the populace is the same sex as the one running for office, to whom does the benefit go?

In other words? Does the woman win? Or is it the opposite?

There are ways campaigns are designed. Some work best when turnout is poorest.

But after what seems a famine caused by the White House, would it be surprising to learn that it pays to anticipate a bigger, rather than a smaller, turnout in 2008?

True. The most candidates currently visible, belong to the GOP.

While on the left all you really see is Hillary.

Now, when you wonder why McCain can't re-ignite his old flame; isn't it possible Hillary would be equally lackluster?

One of the attritbutes we can't study, IF the donks are holding their fire; and will attempt, ahead, to schtupp in a Blue Dog ... How does that sail?

Once Pelosi grabbed the reins of power, it seemed she was "dipping left." But then on the right, where's the working policy? WIthout considering that you always get buyer's remorse. And, lots of folks have left the train station.

When Reagan won in 1980, a fight broke out between his real friends. And, the new DC set. And, I remember Lyn Nofziger wasn't the only one who felt the powers ebbing from his hands.

Who would Fred Thompson bring along? Because to run things; the real power is in who you hire.

Hopefully, the turds like Dan Quayle, Alberto Gonzales, Condi Rice; and, by the way, George Tenet, was a system used by the Bush Family Business.

From where I sit I know see these as "cut outs." Inferiors in top jobs; with deligated authority down. But then you can't pin anything on anyone. Even with the "cape of invisibility" it's not covering the stink.

And, there ya go. How do you win in 2008? If it's not an ideolog's environment, against larger numbers of people?

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 6, 2007 12:10 PM

I will never, ever, forgive McCain for putting terrorists' rights ahead of American safety.


My second priority is a fence along the Mexican border. I will vote for whichever candidate can manage to make that happen.

I really don't care if we stay in Iraq or pull out, since they're all barbarians there and it will take a couple of generations for them to sort themselves out. But the Mexican avalanche is a problem for *all* of America right now - and it needs to be tended to. And I don't mean by granted 12 million unemployed drunk drivers amnesty.

McCain is also weak on immgration which is another reason I would never, ever, put a tick next to his name.

Posted by Fight4TheRight [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 6, 2007 12:11 PM

I think the WaPo is doing a bit of "fishing" here. I point to a couple of things.

1. The WaPo points to Thompson's support of McCain in 2000. And at the same time, Cap'n Ed points out the main objections to McCain as, " BCRA, the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill, and especially not after the Gang of 14. " My question then is this: Didn't McCain's support and involvement in BCRA, McCain-Kennedy Immigration reform and the Gang of 14 occur AFTER 2000? That would be me saying that I fully supported Richard Nixon and went on record doing that BEFORE Watergate.

2. WaPo wants to point ouf that McCain was/is Thompson's "best friend" in the U.S. Senate. So what? My best friend in the whole world is a conservative democrat. He voted for Kerry - he's not my friend because of his stance on fiscal responsibility and hands off government, he's my friend because of the person he is.

Posted by Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 6, 2007 1:25 PM

If Fred!'s starting to worry al-WaPo that's all the more reason to like him.  Watch for al-NYT to help him out with a hit piece any day now. He's not perfect; he did support BCRA and he does not support deporting illegals en masse (which I realize is minority position), but he does support an effective border and he has the best podium persona I've seen since Reagan or (as much as I hate to say it) maybe Billy Jeff Clinton.

I added an excerpt and link to my 2007.05.06 Decision '08 // Dem Stupidity Roundup. (I ended up renaming yesterday's roundup "2007.05.05 Fred! '08 Roundup.") 

The Ballad of Freddy Thompson

Born in a little burg in Tennessee
Greatest state in The Land of The Free
Raised in the woods so he knew every tree
Beat up a Lib when he was only three.
Freddy, Freddy Thompson,
Please won't you run next year.

Posted by Karen [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 6, 2007 2:36 PM

The Wa Po just doesn't understand the base. I will never forgive McCain for the immigration stance and for his gang of 14, NOT to mention it seemed like he did everything he could to derail President Bush in office. He was a sore loser. Which disappoints me and shows a character flaw because I used to like him.

The whole education system can not be reforemd no matter what without vouchers. I think we need to scrap all public education and privatize the whole thing with vouchers. The market place will sort itself out.

Posted by bushido_crusader1776 [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 6, 2007 4:56 PM


One huge difference between Fred and McCain, and the rest of the "big three", that Captain Ed didn't mention but should have.

Fred Thompson has come out for the most common sense Immigration position supported by 70% of the American people, but rejected by our politicians:


Mitt, McCain and Rudy all have come out for "Comprehensive Immigration Reform", which is just a euphasim for "screwing the American public just like in 1986 and making the problem even worse".

I am delighted that Thompson has had the guts(?) to come out for Enforcement First on the border. I say "guts" because it seems like a tough stance to take, since every other major candidate is afraid to. But I put the question mark by "guts" because the position is so overwhelmingly popular with the American people.

I won't vote for a candidat who advocates "Comprehensive Immigration Reform".

If Fred Thompson runs - I won't have to.

Posted by Rod [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 6, 2007 9:02 PM

Nobody at Post reads CQ and checks the links. Had they checked the links provided by a reader at YouTube they would have seen a night and day difference between Fred and John. Fred is against a pardon and for making our borders secure if for no other reason athan to keep terrorists out. John is an open borders guy who is not worried about Jihad here in America. Comparing them is like comparing Winnie and Neville they both were in the same party but had different outlooks on Socialists threat to world peace. Winnie was right on and Neville was dead wrong! The Socialists were a danger as they proved in 1939.

Posted by Pam | May 6, 2007 9:17 PM

Good Post. I do hope Fred runs. Maybe if he wins, he put his good friend John McCain at Defense. I can't think of a better place. He look after the men and women in uniform and stop making dumb laws or getting in his party's way.