Saturday, February 27, 2010

The "Next Reagan"?

Bruce Walker has a piece up on American Thinker about who he thinks the GOP should choose as its nominee in 2012.

If Republicans could, surely they would nominate Ronald Reagan for president in 2012. As it appears increasingly likely that Republicans -- conservative Republicans -- will control Congress after the 2012 elections, the only missing element in the political equation is a strong, conservative president like Ronald Reagan. In the mix of possible candidates for 2012, there are some potentially promising people.

Sarah Palin, rightly beloved by nearly all conservatives for her honesty, her advocacy, and her spunk, will figure into any list of candidates. Mitt Romney, who decently withdrew from the race before he lost in 2008, ought to be on the short list as well. Mike Huckabee will be some conservatives' favorite as well. Tim Pawlenty has decided that America really needs him to be president, and other Republicans will too.

Already we see that Mr. Walker isn't up on the current situation. Romney just took himself out of the running by endorsing John McCain against J.D. Hayworth (Palin had no choice in this and Republican voters are smart enough to understand that).

Huckabee was removed from serious consideration late last year when another of the violent felons whose prison sentence Huckabee commuted while governor of Arkansas murdered police officers in California. The incident reminded the electorate once again of how profligate Huckabee was in granting clemency, pardons and commutations to men who should never under any circumstances been allowed out of prison. Huckabee did this more than all the governors of the states surrounding Arkansas combined and the murdered cops in CA are not the only innocent people to pay the ultimate price for Huckabee's insane desire to empty the prisons of societies most dangerous and violent bottom-feeders.

As for Tim Pawlenty remember when there was all that press speculation about McCain choosing Pawlenty as his running mate back in 2008? Remember how the consensus opinion in the GOP was that if McCain picked another RINO like himself it would doom what little chance he might have of winning? Pawlenty is still the same man now that he was then and if McCain's humiliating defeat to a know-nothing, done-nothing empty suit like B. Hussein Obama as well as the recent conservative ascendancy seen in everything from the Tea Party movement to the GOP's seizure of the "Ted Kennedy" seat in the Senate teaches us nothing else it is that the "era of McCain" is over (if it ever "was" in the first place)

With deepest respect for Sarah, none of these candidates is another Reagan. Many people have decided that we simply will not find another Reagan for a long time. I think otherwise. During the 2008 nomination season, I wrote several articles proposing a Republican not yet in the race as the Next Reagan. The stars were not aligned right then for him, but all that may be different in 2012. What do we want in our Next Reagan?

First, we want someone whose conservatism is beyond question -- someone who campaigned hard for Doug Hoffman, for example, even while the RNC was supporting the RINO. Second, we want someone of absolute integrity -- someone who is willing to stand all alone if he thinks he is right. Third, we want someone who does not "need" politics -- someone who was a great success in life before entering politics. Fourth, we want someone disassociated from the failures of Obama and also of Bush -- someone who grasped America's disgust with Washington long before the Beltway insiders. Fifth, we want a "grownup" -- someone who is in every sense of the word mature, sober, and serious. Sixth, we want a great communicator -- someone, like Reagan, who works well in every medium of communication. Seventh, we want someone who is universally perceived as a good man -- just like Reagan. One Republican in 2008 met all those criteria, and in 2012, he stands out at least as clearly as anyone as our Next Reagan: Fred Thompson.

First of all everything he says about Mr. Thompson is true, but with the exception of the masculine gender pronouns (he, him, man) it is also true of Mrs. Palin.

Some might quibble about whether Mrs. Palin was a "great success" in life before she entered politics but I challenge anyone to read her autobiography and not be impressed with her life prior to her entrance into politics.

(1) When conservatives began to despair of any true conservative in 2008, gradually, many began deducing that Thompson was the only one who fit the bill. Across the board, in a very thoughtful way, Fred Thompson represents conservative values. When Doug Hoffman ran for Congress, Thompson went to upstate New York to help.

What Mr. Walker says about the way conservative voters felt in 2008 is true. I was there after all. Anyone who was a reader of this blog back then knows how enthusiastically I supported Fred Thompson. And it is also true that Fred followed Sarah Palin's led and supported Doug Hoffman.

(2) No one questions Thompson's integrity. His career was founded on a willingness to fearlessly confront corruption in Tennessee. As a young Republican Senate staffer, Thompson boldly opposed the crimes of Nixon. And as pundits have noted, there are many Senate votes of 99 to 1 in which Fred was that single "no."

It is true that Mr. Thompson was first brought to the public's attention as a young attorney in Tennessee when he brought down a corrupt Democrat governor and that he played a part in the Watergate affair. His voting record in the Senate is very very good. If fact the only problem any conservative might have with it would be those few occasions when he allowed himself to be persuaded by his "good friend" John McCain.

Of course Sarah Palin also built her career on fighting corruption and in her case she had the courage and integrity to take on corruption within her own party.

And this brings us back to that "integrity thing". You see as much as I admire Fred Thompson we do have to admit that there is a stain upon his integrity. You see we found out after the fact that when Fred was holding himself out as a candidate for the presidency he was never serious about it. He was actually angling for an invitation to be someone's vice presidential pick. When he began doing well in the polls he had to make some attempt to seriously campaign but it was clear that his heart was never in it. That fact was never more clearly revealed than in the fact that his single best performance of the campaign was the speech in which he withdrew from the race. And to cap it off his performance on the campaign trail was so lackluster that he would up taking himself out of the running as anyone's VP choice.

(3) Thompson, a star of film and television and a retired senator, does not "need" political power. He is famous, rich, and popular without it. He has a beautiful, loving wife and delightful children. His only reason for seeking the presidency would be his love of America.

Again, everything said about Mr. Thompson here is also and equally true about Governor Palin. Her book sales have made her wealthy and she is able to command large speaking fees. Her online presence and contract with Fox News give her a forum for her views and she has more requests from political candidates who want her to campaign for them than she can possibly assent to. Her family is close and loving and offers her as much joy and fulfillment as Mr. Thompson's could possible offer him. Sarah Palin believes that political power and high office are not things that one seeks out of ambition but are duties that one is called to fulfill.

(4) Thompson gave up his Senate seat soon after Bush began as president. He has not held elective office since 2002. He left Washington in disgust for its machinations, Republican as well as Democrat.

Sarah Palin did not leave Juneau because of her disgust with "its machinations, Republican as wall as Democrat". She rolled up her sleeves and cleaned up the corruption. She left office only after accomplishing everything she had set out to do.

(5) Thompson, like Reagan, is not young. He would be just about as old on inauguration day in 2013 as Reagan when he was sworn into office. Thompson, like Reagan, grew up poor in a small town and worked many jobs and lived in the real world. Thompson is learned in the best sense of the word: He knows exactly why be believes what he believes, but he is also an excellent listener. He is a grownup.

Compare Sarah Palin's upbringing in rural Alaska, where if you didn't hunt you didn't eat, to Mr. Thompson's. Look at some of the jobs she has held. Waitress, journalist - both print and television, commercial fisherman (a business that she and her husband continue to own and operate).

Now compare Mr. Thompson's appearance today to Ronald Reagan's appearance in 1980. Ronald Reagan was an elderly man but he looked vigorous and healthy. The lines on Reagan's face made him look distinguished and wise. Fred Thompson on the other hand simply looks old, even decrepit. It isn't fair. It isn't right. But it is true that in the television age appearance matters to a very great degree. It is true that by 2012 the public might be angry enough at Obama to vote for a man who has aged poorly and looks much older than his actual years, but why take the chance on someone who has already proven himself to be a poor candidate?

(6) Thompson is not only a star of film and television, but Paul Harvey chose Thompson to stand in on his radio show -- a great compliment to Thompson's voice. He has spent decades in all areas of communication and mastered them well.

True, but none of that did him any good in the 2008 primaries. Think about it people. Fred Thompson couldn't even beat JOHN MCCAIN in an election in which most of the people voting were conservative Republicans! That has got to tell you something! In fact let's make it a rule. If you couldn't even beat JOHN MCCAIN is a Republican primary then you shouldn't be allowed to enter ever again.

(7) No one, including his ex-wife, has a bad word to say about Thompson. The left can criticize him only as being "too old, too conservative, and too dumb." This, recall, is precisely what they said about Reagan.

Again, how is this different from Sarah? The left says that she is stupid. The left called Reagan an "amiable dunce". They said that Reagan was a dangerous extremest who would start WWIII with the Soviet Union. They say that Sarah is a warmonger who can't wait to nuke Iran.

If you go back to the beginning of Mr. Walker's essay he says that Romney, Pawlenty, Palin and Huckabee are not the "next Reagan" but that Fred Thompson is. Read Mr. Walker's entire piece over at AT without my comments and then answer this.

In what way does Mr. Walker think that Reagan and Thompson are similar?

They are both men, Republicans, both were once actors, both grew up poor in small towns and both are honest men.

What does Mr. Walker have to say about policy?

Basically nothing. In Mr. Walkers view to be the "next Reagan" one must only have a superficial surface resemblance to Reagan. You have to have grown up in a small town, been an actor and be an old man.

Now I don't think that Mr. Walker is indifferent to policy and I don't think that he is overly concerned with a candidate's personal story. It's just that Mr. Walker loves Fred Thompson.

Mr. Walker is so in love with Fred Thompson that he is blind to both Mr. Thompson's deficiencies as a candidate and to Governor Palin's strengths. That blindness causes Mr. Walker to miss both how much Sarah Palin's personal story tracks with Ronald Reagan's and, for that matter with Fred Thompson's, and how poorly Mr. Thompson campaigned in 2008.

Does Mr. Walker really believe that four more years of age will make Fred Thompson a more attractive and energetic candidate in 2012?