Fred Thompson or Ron Paul? Like Perry and some others, I would rather see a big government Democrat elected than a big government Republican. At least that would bring back some opposition. Republicans in Congress have a much better record of reining in the Democrats’ presidents than their own. And as I explain later, I think that one of these two is the only Republican candidate capable of winning the national election.
Ron Paul answering the What programs? question by naming three cabinet level departments … Wow. Good answer. If there was no rest-of-the-world, he would possibly have my vote.
“Possibly?!” Yes. Possibly. Why? Because good intentions are not enough. Many people have the right ideas. Even if elected, he needs to maneuver his ideas through both the Washington players and the great ambivalent middle of the electorate. He needs to explain and convince massive numbers of mainstream people that what he will bring is better for them personally. How many think Ron Paul is up to that job? I don’t.
Does any small government candidate have a chance both to be elected and a chance of accomplishing a rollback if elected? Fred Thompson. Beyond all doubt he will achieve far more of Ron Paul’s goals than Ron Paul himself has even the slightest hope of achieving.
Reagan was the most recent president that was able to shift the entire national government onto a new course. What unusual skills did he have that made this possible? A big one is that he was an actor before he went into politics. His nickname was ‘The Great Communicator‘. It wasn’t enough to know what he wanted to do, he had to be able to achieve it in an arena where selling the product is everything.
To achieve anything a president must be taken seriously, both as an ally and as an opponent. Power in Washington is popularity, persuasiveness, trust… Gravitas. A president who would roll back government needs to naturally inspire respect and confidence. Rolling back government frightens most people. Even most of us who are determined to see government greatly reduced want to see it done in a planned and controlled way. Particularly in times of external threat, a civil collapse unleashes, not reins in the government. The differences I have with Perry on this topic are because first, I believe the world is entering a far more dangerous time militarily and economically than we have experienced since the height of the cold war. And second, I believe Fred Thompson will actually achieve many of the goals that Ron Paul could only attempt. Unlike Fred, Ron Paul has the gravitas of a helium balloon. And when he gets excited he even sounds like he has been inhaling from one. Sigh. This image certainly did not help.
Fred versus Ron to successfully reduce the size of government? Not even close. Fred.
Libertarians of many stripes are telling us we should be spectators of international affairs. This is a short course to oblivion. We positively cannot stay uninvolved in the rest of the world. To believe we can just allow other nuclear players to ‘have it out’ is as delusional as sitting in the corner of a four man tent watching the other three fighting with hand grenades while stating solemnly “It is their fight, I am not involved.” We are on a small planet full of big weapons. Libertarians who claim we can be uninvolved in other nations’ quarrels are gambling that no nation will ever actually use a nuclear weapon. I reject that assumption. They can and if they can imagine a benefit, they will. This genie is not going back in the bottle. And fall out is no respecter of national borders. Our food production is still at risk no matter how neutral we are.
MAD, mutually assured destruction, is the butt of many dark jokes. The truth however, is that it works well when dealing with a rationally self interested opportunist. For fifty years it has prevented the rational holders of nuclear weapons from using them. But in the case of irrational or potentially irrational nuclear powers, its effect cannot be assumed. With nations like Syria, Iran and any new wannabes, if we have or can create the opportunity, preemptive strikes against nuclear facilities must be kept available as an option. We must also be alert for unstable nuclear states being used as a first-use surrogate by other nuclear powers.
Redeploying back within our borders, Ron Paul’s approach, requires abandoning international trade with any nation that is attacked or even threatened by any other government or terrorist organization. World trade requires the staffing and basing of military forces around the world. To believe we can avoid foreign entanglements and yet still trade internationally is fantasy. It has been tried many times throughout history, the last time we tried it, submarines attacked merchant and passenger shipping. The targets will include air traffic now. Rejecting involvement in foreign entanglements means rejecting foreign trade with all aligned or attacked nations.
Ron Paul is by far the highest profile pure anti-war candidate (Dennis who?) and consequentially he has picked up the majority of the anti-military and quite a bit of the anti-American demographic. While many of his supporters here argue energetically that he is not an isolationist, they have convinced me that if not a deliberate isolationist, he is an accidental one. This is the far worse case as it would mean that he doesn’t understand the role of a strong, prepositioned military in prevention. President Bush eagerly threw the military answer at far too many questions. The answer is not to forfeit those capabilities.
I am sure there will be guffaws of laughter from some Paul supporters when I say “peace through strength”. With his forty years of experience in politics, law and communication (beginning with the Goldwater campaign), Fred Thompson understands both the domestic and legal repercussions of strength diplomacy. Over a decade before first being elected to the Senate, Fred served as special counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee. Unlike any other candidate, he not only knows the “what?”, he has a strong constitutional and international grasp of the “how?” For those of you who wonder what a ‘Special Counsel’ does, their most visible role is leaning forward and putting words in the politicians’ mouths during public hearings. Fred is able to put the words in his own mouth. Go figure.
More valuable than any other candidate’s security credentials, I think Fred understands the mechanism of strength diplomacy. The choice on foreign affairs goes easily to Fred for anybody that wants to sustain foreign trade even if they mistakenly believe we can hunker down safely in a world of militarized satellites and missiles targeted at us.
Last qualification, electability. Much has been made of Giuliani and Romney being ‘electable’. Riiight. Does anybody seriously believe that a voter wanting an east coast style big government liberal is going to vote for a Liberal Lite big government Republican instead of the real thing? Not even remotely. A big government Republican is not going to draw away any Democrat voters but will drive away many Republicans. Fred does satisfy voters concerned about our safety and about his understanding and capacity to protect it. And he has an almost Churchill like deliberate and imposing persona. Fred is the only Republican candidate that has a serious chance of winning the national election.
Fred will be the first time since Reagan that I actually vote for a presidential candidate instead of against their opponent.
Here is the real shocker. Cynical me, this is also the only time ever that I have donated to a political campaign except for one time I was a candidate for local office. That was a case of putting my money where my mouth is. I guess this is too.