Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fred, Huck and Rudy Part I

There appears to be a significant realignment of support in progress among Republicans who are following the primaries. Evangelical Christians are are re-assessing Rudy Giuliani and everyone is getting to know Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee.

Fred Thompson was supposed to be the man we all wished were running. Socially and fiscally conservative. An able and winsome communicator. Federalism. Only one divorce, and that was a while ago. Experience in the Senate. But he took forever to get into the race. And now that he's in, where's the fire? Instead of exploding into the campaign as the obvious choice, he has people asking, "Is he too lazy to win?" Read "Idle Worship: In Praise of Fred Thompson" by Michael Crowley of the New Republic (October 25, 2007). He gives an unconvincing defense of Thompson's lackadaisical campaign style. He says we Americans work too hard. Perhaps we need another Calvin Coolidge in office who slept twelve hours a day. Oh but that was back before the President had lots to do as leader of the free world, not mention the vastly expanded domestic duties.

His Saturday Night Live character explained, "I'm not sayin' I don't want to be your president, because I kinda do." That's funny only because there's truth in it. But there is good reason that Alexander Hamilton believed it necessary that a strong presidency draw "men of ambition" to the office. People who combine ambition with virtue (or we would say drive and good character) are people who actually want to accomplish something in office. Reagan combined both of these qualities. Bill Clinton was ambitious, but only for power, money, babes and flying in a cool plane. Bob Dole just wanted his turn at the top. George Bush wanted to be "the education president" and then lost in 1992 because of his indifference toward re-election.

A president who is actually able to govern must have ambition. It is fundamental. Thompson has not demonstrated that he has this. There is a fault in being overly detail oriented. Jimmy Carter. A good President will make his principles clear, then delegate. But even so, the job is demanding. The consequences of falling short in that seat of power are vast.

Given this, I'm less inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt on his support for McCain-Feingold. Ann Coulter is quite opposed to him based exclusively it seems on his vote to oppose removing President Clinton from office in 1999. Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost has abandoned ship. "If Thompson manages to slouch his way into St. Paul and gets the Republican nomination, he'll have my vote. But I refuse to continue putting more energy into supporting him than he's put into his own campaign." He and others at EO have thrown their support to Huckabee.

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