As regular VC readers know, I am one of several conspirators who is supporting Fred Thompson's campaign for President. I cannot speak for the others, but my reasons for supporting Thompson include his commitment to federalism, his candor on important issues other candidates would prefer to avoid (e.g. entitlements), and his record on regulatory reform and government oversight over the past thirty years. For National Review's pentultimate issue (the one before they endorsed Mitt Romney), I authored an article making the conservative case for Thompson. For those without subscriptions to the print magazine, here is an excerpt:
Sen. Fred Thompson may be a professional actor, but it's hard to find a more authentic conservative candidate in this campaign. He has been a consistent champion of fiscal discipline, national security, and government reform, among other issues important to the Right. As National Review recently editorialized, "Thompson has set a standard for specificity, conservatism, and soundness" yet to be matched by any other candidate. More than anyone else, he advocates a conservatism of the head that should appeal to conservative hearts. If the Republican nomination should go to the most principled and consistent conservative in the race, there should be little question that Fred Thompson is the man to nominate.In addition to supporting Thompson, I share Ilya's aversion to Mike Huckabee, and his brand of know-nothing, big government populism. In my view, there is nothing conservative (and certainly nothing remotely libertarian) about Huckabee's agenda. Hence, I declared myself both "Pro-Fred and Anti-Huck."
Some worry Thompson doesn't want the presidency badly enough. In an era when politicians plan their political moves years, if not decades, in advance, Thompson is almost an accidental candidate: someone willing to run if the people want him on his terms. This may be his greatest liability — but it should also be an asset in wooing conservatives to his cause.
Thompson, after all, is not running a campaign of simple slogans or pandering platitudes. He is willing to take positions that risk offending potential constituencies. Witness his attack on the gluttonous farm bill and opposition to some business-favored federal tort reforms. He may have been unprepared to answer a media question about the "Jena 6," but he can discuss the crisis in Pakistan, the threat of nuclear proliferation, regulatory bloat, or the future of entitlements with a level of nuance and detail that comes only from genuine intellectual engagement. If Republicans are looking for an "anti-Hillary" — a reluctant candidate with a commitment to limited government who will bring honor and integrity to the White House — it would be hard to do better than Fred.
There are many things I don't like about Huck, ranging from his economic illiteracy and protectionist impulses to his embrace of creationism and nanny-state mentality. As Kimberly Strassel noted in the WSJ, Huckabee sounds good, but the substance is often lacking — and what substance there is provides little comfort.
Over on NRO's The Corner, I have blogged a bit about Huckabee's call to quarantine AIDS victims in 1992. (See also here and here.) Questioned about this statement in the past week, the Huckabee campaign has dissembled (as I noted here), denying he called for a quarantine and pretending as if this was not an irresponsible policy position in 1992. Huck himself took the same tack when asked about the issue on Fox News Sunday, denying the clear import of his prior statement, and suggesting his position was correct, although he would "say it a little differently today." I'm sorry but that's not good enough. If Huckabee cannot acknowledge that his call to "isolate" those who were HIV-positive in 1992 was grossly irresponsible, it is just one more reason he should not be the next President of the United States.
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- Against Mike Huckabee:...
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