The New Reagan?

Fred Thompson has captured the imagination of conservatives who find themselves dissatisfied with the current crop of presidential contenders. They want to find a nominee who combines the charisma of Rudy Giuliani, the firmness on the war of John McCain, and the conservative domestic policies of Duncant Hunter and Mike Huckabee. In short, conservatives want another Ronald Reagan.
According to some of those who worked for Ronald Reagan, they may have it in Thompson:

Ronald Reagan’s closest allies are throwing their weight behind the White House bid by the late president’s fellow actor, Fred Thompson.
The film star and former Republican senator from Tennessee will this week use a speech in the heart of Reagan country, in southern California, to woo party bigwigs in what insiders say is the next step in his coming out as a candidate.
A key figure in the Reagan inner circle has now given his seal of approval to Mr Thompson, best known as a star of the television crime drama Law and Order.
As deputy chief of staff, Michael Deaver was a key member of the “troika” of aides who kept the Reagan White House on track. With the chief of staff James Baker and special assistant Ed Meese, he was the master of image and presentation.

Deaver has remained at the forefront of the Reagan legacy, and has close contacts with Nancy Reagan. Clark Judge, one of Reagan’s speechwriters, also supports Thompson, calling Thompson “a man of tremendous substance”. Roger Stone, a Reagan campaign strategist, notes that Thompson has Reagan’s self-assurance without the cockiness of George W Bush, and that he communicates wisdom and deliberation.
With this team forming, it’s obvious that Thompson will join the race. If that wasn’t enough, his upcoming appearance at the Lincoln Club this Friday should make it clear. It has worked for Republican electoral success since it helped inspire Reagan to run for governor, and it made history when it assisted Arnold Schwarzenegger and pushed the recall effort that made him a successor to Reagan in California. If Thompson can bring the Lincoln Club behind him, he will have a force in political fundraising on his team — and will have gotten a jump on the other Republicans that have conservatives pining for Fred as the new Reagan.
All of this is true, and yet Thompson is both less and more than Ronald Reagan. Thompson has a long record of political reform from the ground up, first with Watergate and then in Tennessee. His acting career followed his political career, while Reagan did it the other way around. Reagan spent years grooming himself for higher office by speaking on the dinner circuit, building his rhetorical repetoire for a long-shot run at the California governor’s office, followed by two attempts to win the Republican presidential nomination.
In contrast, Thompson has not appeared to seek high office, nor has Thompson worked on what looked to be in retrospect a grand plan for a political career. That lack of ego may work to Thompson’s advantage in an era of deep skepticism. It’s not Reagan, but it’s Thompson, and Thompson might sell as the reluctant philosopher, drafted out of necessity.

22 thoughts on “The New Reagan?”

  1. Hello Cap’n,
    Just an observation here, but it seems to me that too many Republicans (and Liberterians for that matter) are missing the big picture. They’re focused on relatively petty issues and hurt feelings over this administration and negelecting to understand that politics is a dirty, contact sport.
    Republicans and Democrats have about an equal ability to attract votes, and this is a reflection of the overall state of the electorate. The ultimate winners in any national contest are going to be those who can appeal strongly to their own party, and also appeal strongly to independents and some other people in the other party.
    Further, the last eight years under GWB has been, well, “upsetting” for those who believe in national unity.
    Consequently, I believe the key issue for the upcoming presidential campaign will be finding someone who can both realistically understand the challenges facing this country, including the Long War, and who can successfully appeal to people across the spectrum.
    Rudy Guilanni may not be Mr. Conservative, but he has an appeal, and respect, that can reach across that spectrum. How many other more conservative candidates can do that?

  2. i love Fred’s rhetoric.
    but he has NONE of Reagan’s exec experience.
    Reagan had been an extremely effective guv of the nation’s largest state.
    And even before that he had been the LEADER of the conservatives for years.
    And on top of that, Reagan had to run and lose (in 1976) before running and winning (in 1980).
    Fred just doesn’t have that CV. He also accomplished VERY LITTLE in the US Senate.
    But… in wartime, this lack of exec exp. is VERY bad.
    That’s why I could not vote for Fred – unless he was running against a Democrat.

  3. Interesting…
    Fred Thompson supported and worked for McCain in the 2000 Presidential Run.
    McCain actually was against tax cuts, and voted against the Bush Tax relief, which proved essential in our healthy economy of today.
    Fred Thompson also worked as a lobbyist for many years, including the effort in deregulation, which helped the S&L scandal later.
    He was a Senator during the 90s, and should be asked the same questions for Newt and others, as to why he didn’t encourage the Clinton Administration to seriously face Radical Muslim Militancy, why nothing was done about illegal immigration, why he did not aggressively work to stop the Ginsberg appointment, etc…
    Although I like Fred Thompson, too many Conservatives seem to be ‘stuck’ on fashion, and the overt hype over a number of issues, including Dubai, Immigration, etc., has hurt Our agenda.
    Would be truly painful, to watch those screaming for a true Conservative to be burned later by an image, ignoring the basis.
    CEO experience is essential, and Fred Thompson is lacking in this arena.
    We are in the midst of a GWOT, and need to take this position seriously, and someone who reminds Us of the Gipper is not always the best choice.

  4. Re: Brooklyn at April 29, 2007 09:13 AM
    The fact that he’s been wrong about some things in the past is not as big an obstacle as you might think. The question is, does he learn from it, and is he willing to change his mind? The important thing is basic principles. Reagan had some missteps, but he had basic principles that served him well. That, and that ability to persuade and inspire Americans with words. Wouldn’t be nice to have that again? Fred Thompson’s not the only Republican candidate who can express himself well, but he’s the most conservative one who can.

  5. john_apple
    Republicans are at a disadvantae versus Democrats. The Democrats start out with about 47% of the vote. The Republicans start out with about 40%. For the Republicans to win, they have to win the majority of the swing votes. As the black and hispanic population grows while the middle class whites shrink, there will come a day when the Democrats will have 50% of the vote automatically.
    The problem with the Republican candidates is that none of them have demonstrated any leadership, vision, or ability. They have not developed subordinates, they live very differently that they want other to live, most of them seem incapable or hiring and managing their staff; and they have no vision.
    All of the Republican candidates are so severely damaged that none of them can win except for a tremendous breakdown with however is the Democratic nominee.

  6. Republicans are so hungry for a true conservative, but I think that they believe Thompson may be too good to be true, nor does he have the momentum. Republicans no longer vote for the best candidate, but the candidate they believe has the best chance to beat the Democrat up against him. For this reason, Rudy will probably win the bid, despite his less than conservative position on the social issues.

  7. Wait a second, name one Democrat who’s not a socialist? Name one Democrat who’s not hoping for Al Queda to win the war so he or she can win an election? Name one Democratic voter who’s hoping for a better candidate than those already declared?
    Now, how about the Republican side of the fence. Name three Republican candidates who support America first, who believe America is the answer to oppression and not the cause of it. Now ask yourself, why would Republican voters want someone else to join the race for president? Because we want the best for America and the world, we want to deal with reality and not make America a client state of Europe.
    Why in the world would we want to enlist another Republican candidate?
    Answer: because we want to increase the debate not stifle it!
    (How about that Democratic debate, that really brought alot of answers to our pressing national issues, didn’t it?

  8. Superdestroyer,
    I think this is offset by individual Republicans tending to be more consistent in getting to the polls, whereas many Democrats talk a good game, but don’t actually show up to vote. The last election saw many Democrats more motivated to vote than the 2004 election. (Note: I’m not a political scientist, so this is just my personal, subjective opinion.)
    In regard to your comment about leadership, I think your statement applies equally well to all politicians, and for that matter, to many media people as well.
    In today’s marketing world, it is difficult for an individual with either true charisma or real character to even get considered. Can you imagine Andrew Jackson running for president today? He would be lucky if he didn’t get arrested!

  9. January 2009 may be too late. If support for the war isn’t soon rallied America will suffer a defeat in Iraq (at the hands of al Qaeda) from which it may never recover.
    I mean no disrespect to Dick Cheney, who has served his nation long and well, but he can no longer make a positive contribution to the most important issue facing the nation.
    President Bush is sailing the ship of state without an effective First Mate.
    I proposed yesterday in a comments thread , seconded by SoldiersMom, that:
    “In order to rally suppport for victory Dick Cheney should step down and be replaced by Fred Thompson, whose only task as Vice President will be to counter the MSM pro-surrender filtering of war news and speak directly to the American public about the progress being made and the consequences of even discussing withdrawal dates.”
    My idea seems to have gone into the nether sphere. Pity.

  10. I think you all are missing a crucial piece of the puzzle here folks. What does al Gore have that his other fellow Democrats don’t? A Single issue. I’ll spare you all the pain of mentioning that issue but here’s my point. These Congressional investigations are going to leave an indelible mark on the electorate that the GOP can counter with one single issue/vision/platform, whatever you want to call it and Fred is the Man for this: REFORM. I know it sounds simple but bring Fred in, he’s cleanest, he’s a strong survivor of his Cancer, great in my view, he’s not a victim, and go with Clarence Thomas as the VP. Justice Thomas resigns from the bench, Bush gets to appoint Alito/ Scalia 2.0 and everyone gets to vote for a historic ticket that will be parallel to the HRC or BO scheme. SINGLE ISSUE FOLKS.

  11. Sorry, Cap’n .. but Fred Thompson is in no way shape or form the “new Reagan” … he doesn’t even exist with within the same universe Reagan occupied. Thompson is someone who served a brief (1-term) undistinguished career in the Senate, and nobody (not even his strongest supporters) can recall any significant accomplishments of his in the Senate … even more significantly, he has never held an executive management position in government, as Reagan did in his two terms as Governor of the nation’s largest state (second largest at the time, I believe, in population) where he not only served but was a big-time conservative reformer. Then he went on to become THE conservative movement leader of the Republican party for the next decade or so, including one almost successful run for the Republican nomination, barely losing to an unelected incumbent President Ford, then four years later succeeding to the nomination and subsequent general election win in a landslide.
    Thompson is a likeable enough fellow, but he has only fair to moderate conservative credentials (his lifetime ACU rating is only four points better than Chuck Hagel’s!) who might make a passable VP nominee. Recall that he was one of only 9 Republicans to vote “not guilty” on Clinton’s impeachment trial – with fellow voters such as turncoat Jim Jeffords of Vermont, the two women from Maine, and recently-defeated Lincoln Chaffee – not exactly a “rogues gallery” of fellow conservatives. He was also a big-time supporter of McCain-Feingold (which was vigorously opposed by the right-to-lifers), and he also was very weak on immigration.
    Conservatives who now pine for Thompson are simply deluding themselves – they’re falling victim to another case of self-inflicted “the grass is always greener” syndrome. For one thing, he’s not electable – the Dems would almost certainly beat him in November unless they put up a real ringer such as a Kucinich (not likely) … but Obama or Clinton would almost certainly clean Thompson’s clock. Even Hillary Clinton has more Federal government experience than Thompson (on her second term in the Senate), and only Thompson would make Obama’s biggest weakness – lack of experience – a non-issue.
    The best hope for conservatives in the Republican Party this go around is, believe it or not, Rudy Giuliani. Sure, he doesn’t pass the “true believer” test on abortion (however, keep in mind that Giuliani’s middle of the road posture on abortion fits the public’s overwhelming view of the matter – the most radical anti-abortinists of the Republican Party are clearly out of step with the mainstream view on the subject), but he surely has by far the most conservative record amongst all the Pub candidates in governmental administration and leadership on the all important subjects such as crimefighting, getting welfare under control, fighting the corrupt Dem labor unions, and reducing taxes and government regulation of the private sector. And of course he performed magnificently on 9/11/01. He is exactly right on fighting the Jihadists – he fully subscribes to the Bush Doctrine of aggressively going after the Jihadists and those who support them where they are, rather than taking the defensive posture of all the Dems – and he is taking it to the Dems on this very issue, which is of course making all the Dems howl loudly. None of the other Republicans, including John McCain, have gone after the jugular of the Dems so directly on this most important of all issues.
    Nope – Fred Thompson could be a possible VP for someone like Giuliani … but he would not even be the most likley. I think it is more likely that Giuliani would pick a southern or western Governor with real executive management experience … possibly a Texas Governor Perry, or perhaps a sitting (not ex) Senator with very strong credentials on national defense or immigration matters, such as Arizona Senator Kyl. I don’t see McCain as anybody’s VP, as he’s simply too much of a maverick and egotist who would never follow his Commander in Chief’s orders. Say what one might about Cheney, but he’s been a suiperb VP for President Bush.

  12. I have to agree with many people here. When I see Fred Thompson, I hear him saying in my mind, “I am not a strong, conservative leader; but I play one on TV.”
    Reagan first served as the head of his union. Then he served two full terms as Governor of California. Then he ran and only barely lost to Gerald Ford in 1976.
    What has Thompson done? Seriously? Honestly?
    He served one term in the Senate notable mainly for its mediocracy. He has his name on no legislation of any significants. As a lawyer, he nailed a couple of corrupt politicians. Okay, so he can speak truth to power. But what if he IS the power? Can he handle it?
    So why should we think of him as the next Ronald Reagan?

  13. Back in 1998, Arianna Huffington said “There is no question that Giuliani has a vision for New York. And though it’s complicated, it can pretty much be summed up in one word: Singapore.
    Very true; Giulianni is all about order, not liberty, and that’s why he will never have more than lukewarm support from the right.

  14. Fred Thomspon, Duncan Hunter ’08. Fresh Faces, military cred and the right ideas.

  15. Mark Alexander points out why Democrats fear a Fred Thompson candidacy and provides a much fuller picture of Fred Thompson’s extensive credentials beyond the actor, one-term senator portrayal by the media. Check this out:
    I like that combo, richard mcenroe, and am veering in that direction myself.
    Fred Thompson has a lot of appeal to the crossover voter as well as the conservative one, and while he is as yet undeclared, he has all of the free publicity through his acting venues.

  16. I hate to slosh through already muddy water, but Thursday’s debate should separate the pretenders from the contenders.
    Remember the name Mitt Romney. You’ll be seeing/hearing it more often, I’m thinking.
    And keep your umbrellas handy. Those negative sea-mammals will begin some serious rhetorical splashing early Friday.

  17. putting aside thompson’s actual politics what he does bring to the table is a coherent thinking process. whether you personally agree with it is not important at this stage. his biggest contribution to the ultimate candidate choice will be the level of debate he will force on the others. at this point–very early–i think it will bring out the best in rudi.

  18. I guess the talking points are in. The people here telling us that Thompson is an executive lightweight make me very suspicious of wolves in sheep clothing. They are all talking about the same theme, thus I suspect “seminar posting” from the lib sites. They want to plant the “Thompson has no executive experience”.
    Sorry, not buying it. RUN FRED RUN!!!!!!!!!!

  19. If “REAGANITES” think we are going to buy McCAIN’S BUTT BUDDY as “THE NEW REAGAN” they have a lot of awakening to do.
    Campaigned for McCain, who won his last Senate re-election DUE TO CROSSOVER DIMS, while all the GOP members of Arizona were caucussing to UNAMINOUSLY CENCURE McCain.
    Votes for McCain Feingold
    One of FOUR Senators to vote that Clinton DID NOT COMMIT PERJURY.
    I’ll still be laughing, and I will turn out and vote – but it won’t be for a Fred Thompson.

  20. How can you principled worshipers of Ronald Regan actual bring your self to vote for anyone? I guess it’s easy to sit back and WISH for the perfect candidate who miraculously supports the WAY THINGS OUGHT TO BE AGENDA. But what happens to your soul and conscious when you realize that you know for sure that there will never be a perfect candidate and then make excuses for your vote AGAINST the Democrats’ nominee rather than for a person who doesn’t have your MYTHICAL credentials?It never ceases to amaze me how short sighted and unrealistic the conservative, what ever that means, agenda is. It reminds me of the nerdy mechanical engineer that lived a couple of houses down from us in Florida, PHD, could totally explain corrosion down to the chemical formula, but some how couldn’t keep it off the wheels of his boat trailer which eventually rusted to the point of failure. Picky bastards, your ideal candidate doesn’t exist and your hero is dead.How can you possibly vote for anyone that’s not perfect idealogically and not consider yourselves hypocrits against your own principles?

  21. Like many above, I enjoy Thompson’s *recent* unapologetic, no-nonsense rhetoric, and do sincerely hope that he gets into the race, soon. I’ll be watching him carefully, as I know way less about him than I do about the two front-runners.
    Also like some above, I have a sense that the recent Thompson boomlet is a product in part of projection. People seeing what they are looking for. In 1980, when he was elected, Ronald Reagan needed no introduction. He’d been campaigning for President for 5 years and had been a national political figure for 15.
    If Fred T is all that, where has he been for the last decade? I look forward to finding out.

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