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A request to Fred Thompson

Today (still Tuesday in Wisconsin), Fred Thompson announced that he has withdrawn his candidacy for president. This is a huge loss to believers in limited government as Fred was the last person standing who represented us and could win in the national election. I believe he was the only hope for a soft landing when the bloated government and all of its myriad schemes inevitably collapse. All of the other candidates are singing some variation of FDR’s song of government interventions and incentives.

There was a popular meme that Fred didn’t want it badly enough. The emphasis should be on ‘badly’. No, he didn’t sit up, offer his paw and roll over on command. He didn’t heel and he didn’t beg. It is true. He didn’t want to be president badly enough to, well … behave badly. Good for him. No honest and sane person would actually want that job. He offered himself as a candidate but could not bring himself to lie about wanting badly to be president. He did not plot and start his campaign years in advance. Our loss.

I hope Fred keeps himself available as an option if this primary season runs all the way to the convention. He is the only candidate that is not seriously flawed to some major subset of traditional Republicans. The only constituency that found him irretrievably flawed was the ‘our guy at any cost including our principles’ constituency and we would be best to abandon them. They already have one party.

Today’s economic carnival ride is just one more warning of the crumbling foundation supporting the superstate. The question is not if the superstate will collapse, but how it will and what extremes it will reach in its attempt to survive. Who will we have leading us through that painful time? We in the state of Wisconsin have just been informed today that because of faltering tax revenues, there will be a budget shortfall. Programs will need to be cut. Imagine what it will be like when the real economic ‘corrections’ hit. Imagine this happening at the national level and to the national programs. And imagine what the proponents of solution by government will be proposing.

Fred, please don’t rest easy until after the convention. This is the first convention in a very long time when the decision might actually be made at the convention. Don’t rule out options. Keep your name on the ballot wherever you can. Please don’t endorse anybody. No true friend would expect you to place their friendship ahead of your personal principles. Especially not if they are also a person who understands principles. I agree that the vice presidency is a bad idea. But please keep yourself available until another candidate is confirmed as the Republicans’ presidential candidate. At that point, you can do no more.

Thank you Fred for running and giving a lot of us even a brief moment of optimism. If you are still on my state’s ballot for our primary, I will cast my vote for you. I don’t want to miss my best chance since Reagan to vote for instead of against someone running for president.

29 comments to A request to Fred Thompson

  • Sunfish

    If FDT is out[1] then it’s time for Plan B:

    We need 41 legitimately small-government Senators, come November. Enough to filibuster every single appointment, every last bill, every last appropriation. NOTHING happens in DC until 2010.

    [1] We can hope that the convention will be more than just a three-day photo op. You know the odds of that just as well as I do.

  • Alice

    You put it very well, Midwesterner. Thank you.

    I too harbored great hopes for Fred — contributed money as well.

    The situation puts me in mind of that famous quote about the lights going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our time.

    A sad day.

  • To what major subset of traditional Republicans is Ron Paul flawed?

  • “To what major subset of traditional Republicans is Ron Paul flawed?”

    Genocidal warmongers–a major Republican constituency.

  • permanentexpat

    Pity……….but let’s hope he gets back in there when the time is right. To me, he had (has) an aura of having been around a tad & life has given him a face & demeanour which could inspire trust.
    He could have been…and could yet be the man for the job. I hope he reconsiders.

  • a.sommer

    He did not plot and start his campaign years in advance.

    That’s the one that killed it. The other candidates seem to have started doing groundwork back in ’06, or even earlier.

  • Thompson was an attractive candidate for me precisely because he did not seem to crave the office. If someone is obsessed with gaining the presidency, it is not safe for him to have it.

  • Damn. This ruined my morning. Probably more than just one morning, too.

  • luisalegria

    Midwesterner, et. al.,

    I’m afraid that you, and so many like you, sound like sophisticated opera buffs at the public concert in the park, sniffing about the second rate soprano singing parts out of “Norma”, and about the poor acoustics out in the open, etc. In the meantime people who know no better and who would never think to go to the opera at all are hearing something wonderful, if not quite as wonderful as it could be.

    Perhaps you all are being a bit too particular ?

  • Well put Midwesterner. Let’s hope that the nominee picks him for VP.

  • JezB

    All of the other candidates are singing some variation of FDR’s song of government interventions and incentives.

    No, this is wrong. Ron Paul is a candidate and he is even more small govt. than Fred.

  • Ron Paul is a candidate and he is even more small govt. than Fred.

    And polling better than Fred ever did, which makes it curious that people continue to talk about Fred as if he had ever had a chance of winning.

    Midwesterner –

    You seem to think Fred in the VP slot would be a bad idea. Why? VP is more often than not the heir presumptive’s throne. I could stomach another term of big-gov Republican if it meant that someone like Fred Thompson was waiting in the wings to take over. So I’m just not following. What about Fred Thomspon as VP would be a bad idea?

    If he endorses the Republican nominee without being on the ticket as VP, however, it will burst the Fred Thompson bubble for me forever. None of the current frontrunners are worth spitting on, let alone endorsing.

    I still think Ron Paul is a better use of one’s vote in the primary (and DEFINITELY a better use of one’s vote in the general election if he runs 3rd party), but I suppose that issue has been hashed to death on other threads.

  • Luisalegria – eh?

    What’s the problem with Thompson running as VP? If he ran with McCain (okay, a rather distasteful bedfellow) and won, it’s very likely he’d be contesting the 2012 election.

    In fact, I’d go so far to say that’s the route most likely to deliver him the Oval Office now that he’s dropped out of this race.

  • a.sommer

    And polling better than Fred ever did,

    Don’t take online polls as indications of anything. They are much too easy to spoof.

  • Gabriel

    To what major subset of traditional Republicans is Ron Paul flawed?

    The ones who, for example, opposed entry into WWI and II until the very monemt of entry, but then did not spend the next few years trying to sabotage the war effort.

  • Cynic

    I think Thompson was ruined before he entered the race. The media talked him up as some sort of new Reagan that the booboisie of the GOP would much prefer to McCain, Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee, and so on. Turned out he was no new Reagan and that the booboisie actually preferred McCain, Huckabee and Romney. The media soon lost interest after he declared he was running. According to the National Review blog at least, most of Thompson’s partisans are now backing McCain or Romney (so much for small government!). Apparently, Huckabee took away support from Thompson too.

  • Paul Marks

    Good point Gabriel.

    It is not being “anti war” that turns people off Ron Paul – it is his whole tone, the attitude that everything is the fault of the United States.

    For example, it would never occur to him to say “well I still think I was right in opposing going into Iraq in 2003, but now we have got to win the war”.

    This would be “inconsistant” – the charge the “sage of Baltimore” made against those (Republican and Democrat) who opposed the entry of the United States into World War One, but when the nation had entered the war supported winning.

  • Paul Marks

    Good point Gabriel.

    It is not being “anti war” that turns people off Ron Paul – it is his whole tone, the attitude that everything is the fault of the United States.

    For example, it would never occur to him to say “well I still think I was right in opposing going into Iraq in 2003, but now we have got to win the war”.

    This would be “inconsistant” – the charge the “sage of Baltimore” made against those (Republican and Democrat) who opposed the entry of the United States into World War One, but when the nation had entered the war supported winning.

  • Paul Marks

    A double click above – my apologies.

    I should qualify what I have said.

    Ron Paul would never call people like Fred Thompson (and all the others) “genercidal warmongers”.

    For example, to support getting rid of Saddam in 2003 (even though many people, including me, did not support this) is not being a “genercidal warmonger”.

    It is the tone of his SUPPORTERS more than the tone of Ron Paul, that is really offensive and stupid.

    Although it should be stressed that this is only SOME of the supporters.

    On Joshua’s point.

    At his peak (sadly before he finally decided to enter the race) Fred Thompson was first or second in the polls.

    Ron Paul is last.

  • Cynic

    It is not being “anti war” that turns people off Ron Paul – it is his whole tone, the attitude that everything is the fault of the United States.

    For example, it would never occur to him to say “well I still think I was right in opposing going into Iraq in 2003, but now we have got to win the war”.

    As far as Iraq’s problems have become America’s problems, the US government is at fault. Sure, Iraq would have dire problems regardless, but they have become problems for the USA largely because American politicians insisted upon interventionism.

    And it is all well and good saying that ‘we have to win’, yet win ‘victory’ involves a war bill that will reach trillions of dollars and commitments that will last decades, I don’t think there is anything wrong with questioning the wisdom of that. Considering that the meaning of what ‘victory’ would constitute varies amongst politicians too and that the administration keeps changing war aims(Link), I think it is a bit of a platitude insisting on victory at all costs. A few years ago, Bush was blabbering on about making Iraq a democratic beacon for the rest of the Middle East to emulate. Nowadays, the modest gains made by the Petraeus surge seem to be cause for huge celebrations in Washington. We now have the administration cheering the fact that the Iraqi regime are now going to employ Baathists, despite the fact that de-Baathification was a few years ago meant to be a major achievement in Iraq.

  • Paul Marks

    Well one of my comments has gone missing (or it may have got botted).

    Anyway it was just pointing out that it is not Ron Paul, but rather some of his supporters, who come out with the really offensive and stupid language – “genercidal warmongers” for example.

    As for what Cynic has just said:

    Yes I agree one can question policy.

    But the money already spent is not going to come back – and if the enemy take over Iraq the war does NOT stop they just spread it to other places – so there is no financial saving in future.

    As for Iraq’s problems just being Iraq’s problems.

    Well that was not true with the invasion of Kuwait.

    The United States could hadly allow Iraq to take over Kuwait and be in a position to dominate Arabia (not just Saudi Arabia – although that would have bad enough).

    “Yes America could” – well, yes, America could ignore the whole world, but America would sill be hit by events in the world.

    One can only opt out of power politics if some other nation is acting as a shield.

    On 2003 I continue to think that containment would have been the best option – but that is water under the bridge now.

    As for Iraq now.

    Either a victory by Sunni favouring A.Q. or a victory by Shia favouring the Iranian regime would mean a continuation of the war against the West – whether American forces were there or not.

    After all the Iranian regime has been killing Americans around the world (either directly or via proxies) since 1979 – and yet there are no American soldiers in Iran.

  • James Waterton

    Seeing as my comment was swallowed up for a while, perhaps someone can answer it now, reproduced from above…

    What’s the problem with Thompson as VP? If he ran with McCain (okay, a rather distasteful bedfellow) and won, it’s very likely he’d be contesting the 2012 election.

    In fact, I’d go so far to say that’s the route most likely to deliver him the Oval Office now that he’s dropped out of this race.

  • Midwesterner

    James,

    My problem is with having a big government Republican president. The Republicans have shown themselves to be unfortunately loyal to the party (or in fear of it). The Republicans almost certainly salted away more pork during BushII than they did during Clinton. Ditto of course for the Dems.

    Gridlock. I doubt our present situation will stay together until 2012 and when it comes unglued, I want either a small government president of any party, or an enemy of the Republicans in the White House. I have no doubt that any of the viable Republican candidates and the Republican legislators will happily conspire to yet further expansions of the state.

    If we have a Democrat for president, at least the Republicans in congress, and maybe a few of the Democrats will put up a fight. I do not advocate preferring a Democrat to a Republican president as a teach-them-a-lesson move, but as a best option to slow the growth of government move. Hillary is so greatly offensive to so many people, that there is a good chance that nothing at all will be done. I consider that probably the best possibility we have left.

  • Paul Marks

    At least John McCain has come out against the United States government “insurance” program for Florida (and the rest of the country). Just as he came out against the ethenol subsidies in Iowa.

    A lot of people hate McCain because one never knows what he is going to do.

    He may do something conservative or he may come out hand in hand with Ted Kennedy. Although Bush brain did that to – on no-child-left-behind (and so on).

    At least it is not corruption – McCain never seems to consider what a position (say on immigration) will do to him politically.

    It is almost random – what he feels like that day.

    It would at least make him an interesting President. And about 80% of the time (according the rating people) he comes down conservative.

    Romney would just consult the opinion polls and, more importantly, what the elite wanted him to do.

    Does Fred Thompson want to be Vice President?

    And, if he does, what does he add to the ticket?

    Condi Rice is black and female.

    “Yes but Fred is a true Conservative” – so what from a political point of view.

  • Sunfish

    Does Fred Thompson want to be Vice President?

    Does it matter?

    The President can sign or veto legislation, appoint judges and other public officials, sign treaties, and (supposedly) controls the executive function of the United States. That’s a lot of power, which means that’s a lot of ability to screw things up.

    The Vice President can…cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate, and that’s it. Unless one expects a lot of tie votes, it doesn’t really matter who the VP is. And that’s why I don’t think a Romney-Thompson or Giuliani-Thompson ticket is any better than any other ticket involving Romney or Giuliani. A good VP for those two (or Huckabee or IMHO McCain) is basically an attempt to polish something the dog left on the lawn.

    That being said, I think it’s a shame that Rice is sitting this out. You mention her being black and female, which might mean something to the people who vote based on those things. She’s also IMHO the only competent member of the current administration, which suggests to me that she’s capable of using her brain even when surrounded by a mob of stupidity. A rare and desireable trait, IMHO.

    As far as McCain goes, the incumbent protection act he sponsored with Feingold says everything that I think needs to be said, even if I (horror of horrors!) actually agree with him about ‘coercive interrogation’ or whatever we’re calling it this month.

    Joshua, James W., and others who suggest that VP puts Thompson in pole position for 2012:

    1) A one-term President is unlikely to step aside and even less likely to be deposed by his own party in the primaries, in favor of his own VP.

    2) The last time that a sitting VP won a promotion was George H.W. Bush riding Reagan’s coat tails. The last time before that was, IIRC, 150 years prior. (I want to say Martin Van Buren?) Historical trends don’t provide optimism on this score.

    3) Midwesterner’s reasoning about why a Democrat is better than a pseudo-Republican still holds for me. If the Republicans in Congress choose to make things difficult for a Dem President until 2012, then we don’t lose too much ground. However, Republicans practice party loyalty to an unhealthy (IMHO) degree and will give the President whatever he wants, as long as his 2008 convention was not in Denver.

    After all, it wasn’t a Democrat Congress who passed No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, or McCain-Feingold, and it wasn’t a Democrat President who signed all of the above plus the McCarthy veterans disarmament bill, and said he’d sign an assault-weapons-ban renewal.

  • The last time that a sitting VP won a promotion was George H.W. Bush riding Reagan’s coat tails. The last time before that was, IIRC, 150 years prior. (I want to say Martin Van Buren?) Historical trends don’t provide optimism on this score.

    Yes, but sitting VPs are nearly always the next man on the ticket if they want to be. Al Gore in 2000, Bush I in 1988, Walter Mondale in 1984, Hubert Humphrey in 1968, Richard Nixon in 1960. Harry Truman was VP for Roosevelt’s last term almost entirely because everyone was afraid of Henry Wallace taking over in the next election. Furthermore, your depiction of their lack of success at general election time is a bit misleading. Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000. Before 2000, the closest election in history was Nixon v. Kennedy 1960. Nixon may well have won that election; he declined to call for a recount. In modern times, therefore, we really only have Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey as examples of sitting VPs who did not come very close indeed to winning the general election – and in Humphrey’s case there were mitigating circumstances, to put it mildly.

    Your point (1) is well taken, but I was thinking more along the lines of Fred Thompson on the VP ticket this time around and that ticket losing. That would end the political career of the presidential candidate, but not of the VP candidate. It would be a way of keeping Fred in play leading up to 2012.

    Midwesterner’s reasoning about why a Democrat is better than a pseudo-Republican still holds for me. If the Republicans in Congress choose to make things difficult for a Dem President until 2012, then we don’t lose too much ground. However, Republicans practice party loyalty to an unhealthy (IMHO) degree and will give the President whatever he wants, as long as his 2008 convention was not in Denver.

    Completely agree. I always vote Libertarian, so I wouldn’t be voting for the Republican nominee in any case (though I will register Republican to vote for Ron Paul in Indiana’s primary), but I will be pulling against them in this election, with or without Thompson in the VP slot, for exactly the reasons Midwesterner outlines. Better a Dem in the White House and pray for gridlock at this point. I’m merely suggesting that Fred in the VP slot keeps his political career afloat and increases the chances that he will be the one to pick up the pieces in 2012. I might be willing to vote Republican in 2012 if they run him or someone similar.

  • Paul Marks

    Sorry Sunfish and Joshua – but you are wrong.

    A Republican minority can (if they hold together – big if) make life difficult for a Democrat majority in Congress if there is a Republican President (i.e. someone whose veto they can support). Otherwise fillibusters and so on will not really work (especially after the rules get changed).

    The Democrats in the Senate have changed a lot even in the last few decades (although most people seem not to have noticed this).

    There are very few moderate Democrat Senators – far fewer than there used to be.

    With a President Hillary Clinton the Senate and the House (for all the talk of moderates being elected in November 2006) will fully support the drive to collectivism – sorry the “Progressive Consensus”.

    “But 2012″.

    The people will be told that any economic decline (bread lines and so on) is the fault of reactionary business interests.

    They will be told this by all the newspapers (tax audits and other threats will bring News International into line – so no real opposition from such papers as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post) and all the television stations – various F.C.C. and other threats will bring Fox News into line and A.B.C. will fire people like John Stossel.

    As for talk radio – the “fairness doctrine” will destroy that.

    So you will be left with a few internet sites.

    If Google (and the other .com leftists) do not find a way to cut them down to size. “Do not be evil” – unless one is helping out the P.R.C. or giving a seat on the board to Al Gore or……..

    So most voters will believe the stuff they are told.

    Sure tens of millions of Americans will vote against the Democrats in 2012 – but the majority will vote for them (almost total control of the media and the education system will see to that).

    Dale accused John McCain of being a “totalitarian”.

    Wait till you have President Hillary Clinton. Then you will see what the word “totalitarian” actually means.

  • So then I suppose the lesson is vote Dem for president if there seems likely to be a Republican majority in the Congress and Republican if not. In any case, vote for gridlock until the Republicans a candidate with solid small-state credentials.

    I will be voting Libertarian in the general election like I always do, but I don’t mind modifying my election-night barroom cheering to fit this algorithm (before I am accused of enabling Hillary – I live in Indiana, which will be donating all of its electoral votes to the Republican candidate regardless. This is not a “swing state.”).

  • Midwesterner

    Paul,

    I would like to agree with you, but I cannot. Even John McCain’s meta-context is that government is the tool to fix things. In fairness to him, I think McCain-Feingold was an attempt to keep the ‘wrong’ people from gaining the power of government control. But the assumption unsaid is that government should have that power, it just needs to be used for the greater good. The understanding that our government was designed to be limited in power and scope precisely to keep the ‘wrong’ people from using it for gain, is lost on him. He is an outnumbered sheep among wolves yet he still defends ‘good’ democracy.

    Our choice now is between a rapid, uncontested slide into totalitarianism with a well meaning ‘Republican’ or a slow contentious flounder with piles of mud slinging and accusations at a target rich Democrat.

    Look on the bright side. With a Hillary (Bill) presidency, we will never lack for cause for investigations, allegations, special prosecutors, and all of the other things that come from typical Clinton behavior.

    If things are really as bad as you say, then our best hope is to make things as contentious as possible so that at least somebody is speaking out against what is happening. Every one of the remaining Republicans in the presidential campaign believe there is no problem that cannot be solved with the right regulations, the right applications of government. We can forget about Republican vetoes. The vetoes we get will all be grandstanding moves but the totalitarian measures will be signed by any of the remaining Republican candidates. While ‘wrong’ applications of government will be vetoed, ‘right’ applications will be endorsed and enforced. And if there is a ‘Republican’ president, the Republicans in congress will support him.

    A veto only helps if the president is vetoing all plans for more government intervention, not just the ‘wrong’ interventions.