Today I must just come out and say it and then I can move on. For all the fawning for poor dead Ronald Reagan, a true hero to the Republican party and to the world for putting the final nails in the coffin of the Cold War and the Soviet Union, there is no more Ronald Reagan. There is no gentle way to make that point.
That was then. This is now.
If Ronald Reagan was running for the nomination for the presidency today do you think he would be the front runner? I'm not so sure. He was divorced and in his second marriage, he had children who openly voiced disgust with his political views, he was remarried to a woman who devoted her life to taking care of him, he was a former democrat and union man, plus he was a rather laid back type of personality. He knew the art of compromise.
Imitation is the highest form of flattery. The Republicans running for the nomination today all claim to be most like Reagan, to have worked with Reagan, to admire Reagan.
In this race we now have former Senator Fred Thompson claiming to be the one 'true' conservative running for the nomination. He is likened to Reagan. He's a laid back, slow talking kind of guy. Problem is, it's a bit of a mirage. He is not any more the 'true' conservative than any of the others. Plus, he violates the advice most attributed to Reagan - do not speak ill of a fellow Republican.
I say this not to attack Thompson, just to bring a bit of reality to the table. He seems to be a good enough person. He's as human as any. He's living the American dream, coming from humble beginnings, a father at 17 years of age, graduated from college, graduated from law school, worked all along and has known success.
There is no 'true' conservative in this race and I don't think there is such a person. Period. Since the days of Reagan my party has been hijacked by the religious right and then that constituency was used as the base of the party for election vote getting purposes. Just as the Democrat party has been hijacked by the far left now, the Kos Kids and Moveon. They, too, will reap what they sow.
Our chickens have come home to roost, so to speak. We are paying the price now in my party. My bone of contention with Thompson is that he no longer admits sponsorship in the McCain/Feingold legislation, something he proudly claimed was McCain/Feingold/Thompson up until he became a presidential candidate. I finally got around to doing a bit of research on it as those supporting Fred deny the existence of such a claim. Since I distinctly remember seeing Fred on tv on this subject, I knew it to be true. So, I dug.
On January 21, 1997, in the 105th Congress, in the heading of the text of S.25, Fred Thompson's name appears with all the other sponsors of the campaign finance reform legislation bill. Then in the June 23, 2007 article in the Washington Times, no liberal newspaper, the heading reads "How conservative is Fred Thompson?" Here's what I got out of that article:
There are three standard ideological gauges for rating a politician's level of conservatism. First is the American Conservative Union (ACU), which many consider the holy grail of rating guides. If you were to compare Thompson to Bill Frist, the other senator from Tennessee, elected to the Senate in the same year, 1994, then Thompson would be considered the more 'liberal' of the two. "During the eight years they represented Tennessee together, Mr. Frist compiled an ACU rating of 89.3 percent, making Mr. Thompson "the liberal senator from the Volunteer state." Moreover, during Mr. Thompson's last two years in the Senate (2001-2002), his ACU ratings (84 and 89) were well below Mr. Frist's (100 and 100). Just as Mr. Thompson was departing, Mr. Frist became Senate majority leader, where he maintained his ACU lifetime (87.8 percent) edge over his former colleague."
The second gauge for conservatives is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's annual Senate vote rating. "For the 1995-2002 period, Mr. Frist compiled an average Chamber rating of 97.5 percent, more than 10 points higher than Mr. Thompson's 86.9 lifetime Chamber rating."
The third ideological gauge is the National Journal. "NJ's annual scorecard selects scores of Senate votes and divides them among social, economic and foreign-policy themes." "During his eight-year Senate career, Mr. Thompson displayed a relatively more conservative record on foreign-policy issues than on economic and social issues. Specifically, in the foreign-policy area for four of those years, Mr. Thompson voted identically with an average of 20 other (presumably Republican) senators, placing him at the top of the conservative continuum. On economic issues, during three of his last four years, NJ determined that Mr. Thompson was "more liberal" than 37 percent of his Senate colleagues in 1999, 35 percent in 2001 and 34 percent in 2002. On social issues, Mr. Thompson joined 21 colleagues in 2001 and 38 other senators in 2002 in compiling the most conservative voting record each of those two years. However, NJ reported that his voting record on social issues was "more liberal" than that of 26 percent of his colleagues in 1995, 28 percent in 1998 and 38 percent in both 1996 and 2000."
And to the important issue, as far as 'conservatives' are concerned: "Probably Mr. Thompson's most serious and most repeated transgression against conservative orthodoxy was his habitual embrace of the various renditions of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance "reform" legislation, which he not infrequently characterized as "McCain-Feingold-Thompson." In fact, although the Politico reported June 13 that Mr. Thompson's spokesman claimed the former senator had a 100 percent voting record from the National Right to Life (NRTL) organization, NRTL's Web site reports that Mr. Thompson received scores of 87 percent (1997-1998), 78 percent (1999-2000) and 33 percent (2001-2002). Every wrong vote involved McCain-Feingold-Thompson."
George Will described Mr. Thompson's fascination with campaign-finance "reform" as follows: "Although Thompson presents himself as a strict constitutionalist and an advocate of limited government, he voted for, and still supports, the McCain-Feingold law, which empowers the government to regulate the quantity, content and timing of speech about government." The articles continues, "Interestingly, Mr. Frist compiled 100 percent ratings from NRTL for each of those three periods."
None of this makes Thompson an undesirable candidate. What does make him undesirable, for me as a voter in the Republican party primary in my state, is his slogan. The 'true' conservative is not accurate. Sounds good, true. Huckabee says he'll be the 'Christian' president. That also is offensive. We don't need either form of 'conservative' arrogance.
This time around, we in the Republican party have a smorgasbord of candidates from which to choose. Romney has now won 2 out of 4 contests. The uncertainty is exciting for political junkies like me. A brokered convention? Too delicious to even think about right now.
All of the candidates, except Rudy, are pro-life. That's the conservative's litmus test, as it has been for several election cycles now. All claim to want to end earmark abuse. McCain is the only one to have never asked for or gotten an earmark for his state. Senator Tom Coburn, a champion of ending earmark abuse in the Senate, came out today with his endorsement of McCain. Romney is from outside Washington, D.C. Huckabee is socially conservative, still preaching in churches for votes, but is a nightmare on fiscal and national security issues. You get the point.
Turns out they are all just human after all.