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April 16, 2007

Thompson Profiled In Weekly Standard

The unannounced, unofficial front-runner?

In recent Republican presidential preference polls, Thompson tends to run third, behind Giuliani and McCain but ahead of Romney and the rest of the field. In a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll released last week, Thompson came in second, just ahead of McCain, with support from 15 percent of those surveyed.

...

If he joins the race for the Republican nomination, and if he campaigns the same way he spoke to me last week, Fred Thompson, a mild-mannered, slow-talking southern gentleman, will run as the politically aggressive conservative that George W. Bush hasn't been for four years. And the actor in the race could well be the most authentic personality in the field.

...

In eight years in the Senate, Thompson developed a reputation for an independent streak, yet he compiled a voting record more conservative than one might expect of one who had described himself as a moderate in his first campaign. Over the course of his time in Congress he earned a lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union of 86 percent. He was not quite as conservative (using 2002 numbers) as Rick Santorum (87), Strom Thurmond (91), Trent Lott (93), or Jesse Helms (99), but more conservative than Arlen Specter (42), Olympia Snowe (52), John Warner (82), and John McCain (84).

Here's why he didn't seek a second full term, which I didn't know:

Then in late January 2002, his daughter Elizabeth Panici died suddenly following a heart attack. She was only 38. Thompson's friends say he was devastated. A month later he announced that he had changed his mind--he would not seek reelection. "I simply do not have the heart for another six-year term."

The whole thing is worth a read, but especially the middle bits on Page 2 regarding his record and positions:

* Thompson says he came to respect George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign because of his plan to reform Social Security. Congressional Republicans considered the plan a political liability, and it went nowhere. Thompson says that although it was only tinkering on the margins of real reform, it was a good start. He won't share his own plan--"I'll roll that out at the appropriate time"--but the general principle he articulates sounds like a political risk.

"It's based upon the proposition that granddad and grandmom will be willing to sacrifice a little bit if they feel like it helps their grandkids avoid financial disaster, and that their sacrifice is not going to be wasted down some government rathole," he explains.

...


* He believes that elements of the CIA were out to get Scooter Libby and his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby, though not the original leaker of the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame, was convicted of lying and obstructing justice. "It makes me mad as the devil just to think about it," Thompson says. He had never met Libby when he volunteered to serve on the advisory board of the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust. Is Libby innocent? Thompson answers with one word. "Yes."

Do you think there will be negative political fallout from defending the convicted former chief of staff to an unpopular vice president?

"I have no idea. I have a hard time seeing it. If I'm wrong about the temperature of the American people on this, then I'm wrong about a lot of things about the American people. And we might as well find out."

* I asked him about his vote for the Iraq war and the Bush administration's failure to explain to the American public the real story of the prewar intelligence on Iraq. ...

Thompson slips into sarcasm. "It is amazing to me how a man that they say is so dumb fooled so many real smart people. But that's what they're saying about Bush. Bush
 canoodled the entire Democratic establishment. Absurd on its face, and yet some people want to believe that sort of thing."

Then he goes on to give a better defense of the White House than anything that has come out of the White House communications shop in four years.

You'll have to hit the link for the full the quote. It should be noted that Thompson served on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Suffice to say he thinks Bush has done a piss-poor job in defending the Iraq War and Thompson means to do, and in fact already is doing, better.


* He is equally blunt about Iran. Thompson says that the actions of the Iranian regime--harboring senior al Qaeda leaders, funding and training Iraqi insurgents, supplying terrorists in Iraq with devices that are killing American soldiers--are acts of war. He stops short of calling for a military response, but seems to suggest that he would be saying something different if circumstances were different.

....

* In the days since Thompson allowed that he was thinking about running for president, his views on abortion have come under scrutiny. Thompson finds the news reports from his first run for Senate perplexing.

"I have read these accounts and tried to think back 13 years ago as to what may have given rise to them. Although I don't remember it, I must have said something to someone as I was getting my campaign started that led to a story. Apparently, another story was based upon that story, and then another was based upon that, concluding I was pro-choice."

But, he adds: "I was interviewed and rated pro-life by the National Right to Life folks in 1994, and I had a 100 percent voting record on abortion issues while in the Senate."

...

Thompson says he thinks Roe v. Wade is bad law and should be overturned, but he says he does not support a Human Life Amendment.

Ah, the "federalism" dodge. Except in Thompson's case, it doesn't appear to be a dodge. He seems to be a strong believer in federalism as a principle, and not merely as a clever rhetorical dodge for evading giving answers on hot-button issues:

His voting record suggests a strong belief in federalism. Thompson was frequently a lonely voice opposing the federalization of what in his view were state issues. His unwillingness to compromise on that principle even put him on the losing end of a 99-to-1 vote on the so-called Good Samaritan law, legislation that protected individuals from being sued if their good faith efforts to help someone in distress were unsuccessful. He thought it should have been left to the states.

One big knock on Thompson is that he wasn't able, as chair of the Government Reform Committee, to get Clinton on Gore on their massive campaign-finance abuses in the 1996 campaign. Then again, with all the stonewalling and missing emails and outright lies there -- and Janet Reno refusing to do as the law demands and appoint a (then-legal) independent prosecutor to investigate possible crimes by ranking administration officials -- it's an open question if even Detective Columbo could have made any headway there.

Thanks to someone.


JackM. emails:

He also voted against Tort Reform (along w/ Richard Shelby) on strict federalism grounds, to the consternation of most trial layer hating GOP'ers.

So he seems to be solid on this issue, for good or for ill.


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posted by Ace at 03:42 PM

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