Fred Thompsonâ€™s First Challenge:A Test of Leadership
By J.B. Williams
April 24, 2007
When Republican National Committee (RNC) powers first met to lay out their â€™08 battle plan, Fred Thompsonâ€™s name never came up. Party powers had already chosen their inside-the-beltway golden boys and pronounced them â€œfront-runnersâ€ before the primary process even left the station.
Thanks to a grassroots effort to draft Thompson, he now finds himself center stage, in a campaign he has not yet agreed to run. His challenge is thisâ€¦
Thompson is an outside-the-beltway peopleâ€™s draftee. People who have already rejected the so-called party â€œfront-runnersâ€ are calling on Thompson to serve on their behalf. But to run successfully, the peopleâ€™s candidate must now find a way to work with dejected party powers. It will be tricky.
RNC leaders were rejected due to their less-than-conservative principles. Thompson is being drafted on the belief that he can and will stand strong against all enemies, around the globe, across the aisle and down the hall. This might make strange bedfellows.
The people want Thompson to clean up the liberal cesspool camped out at RNC headquarters, and then their country. They like Thompson because he seems aware of the fact that compromise is greatly over-rated. He understands that real truth is always true and that anything half right is also half wrong. They expect him to not compromise.
Meanwhile, pressure for Thompson to bargain for needed RNC support will be enormous. If he succumbs to that pressure, even a little bit, the conservatives who drafted him will discard him in disgust, just like any other useless RINO. If he doesnâ€™t capitulate to RNC pressure, those in power might make it tough for him to win the RNC nomination.
There are all sorts of Republicans today. Thereâ€™s the Specter â€“ Snowe wing of the party, only one step to the right of Dennis Kucinich and the Giuliani - McCain wing, socially aligned with Teddy Kennedy - though security minded, like Reagan. Then thereâ€™s the dying-breed wing - those diehard conservatives, still convinced that the founders had it right.
Conservative voters are seeking a dying-breed Republican, and they think Thompson is that man.
Not because he is some career politician who has never wavered from staunchly conservative positions, but because heâ€™s not. They like Thompson for knowing who he is and what he believes. He can articulate why he believes, and sees no need to apologize for believing. Heâ€™s one of us.
Thompsonâ€™s first test of leadership will be to see how he emerges from high-level backroom talks with RNC power-brokers anxious to move him towards their way of thinking, before supporting his nomination.
If he emerges with his principles intact, setting congressional Republicans on the road to their conservative roots, instead of allowing them to lead him astray - he will be seen as exactly the kind of conservative leader the base had hoped to draft.
If not - he had better not turn in his resignation to "Law and Order" just yetâ€¦
Democrats have not yet begun to attack. But they will, with plenty of help from the liberal press. Itâ€™s Republicans who fear him most right this minute, and their fangs are out and sharp.
The libertarian isolationist crowd is already pouncing. The mere fact that Thompson is not a global isolationist is reason enough for them to label him a â€œglobalist neoconâ€.
Those who think free political speech includes unregulated institutional or international buying of political favors dislike Thompson for his Senate vote supporting Campaign Finance Reform, as if thereâ€™s any real doubt about the need for reform. McCain-Feingold was a poor effort, but with good intentions. Let that be a lesson about bi-partisan compromise.
Social liberals dislike him for his traditionally conservative stance on the social issues. But the bottom line is thisâ€¦
Those seeking the perfect politician seem to have forgotten that weâ€™d have better luck finding a Sasquatch living in downtown Manhattan. And if such a perfect candidate does exist, you wonâ€™t find him in Washington DC today.
As my good friend, writer Ray Kraft recently pointed out, â€œpolitics is not an art of the perfect, but rather an art of the possible.â€ Itâ€™s certain that Thompson is not perfect, but itâ€™s possible that he is the best man for the times.
Thompson must remain Thompson under the extreme pressure he will face to become a politically correct version of Thompson-Lite.
According to those who know him personally, he knows nothing else.
Weâ€™ll soon see if theyâ€™re right.
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