Fred Thompson and John Edwards recently gave twin speeches that consisted pretty much of whining that it’s too haaard to run for president. What a surprise.
UPDATE: Dear Lord, there’s another website elevating this loser to mythical status? Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate their stated intentions, but the cult stuff, even after their hero endorsed McCain, is getting to be too much. Also note: it’s a little vague as to whom exactly these people are, but you can still donate! Lovely. (Hat tip: Try 2 Focus)

Answering the Call

Senator Rick Santorum, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity have all answered the call to rally around Mitt Romney. Less-responsible conservatives are still in fantasy land.
Don’t take my word for it that Mitt’s the clear conservative choice. Take Santorum’s:

In a few short days, Republicans from across this country will decide more than their party’s nominee. They will decide the very future of our party and the conservative coalition that Ronald Reagan built. Conservatives can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines in this election, and Governor Romney is the candidate who will stand up for the conservative principles that we hold dear. Governor Romney has a deep understanding of the important issues confronting our country today, and he is the clear conservative candidate that can go into the general election with a united Republican party.

Fred Thompson

It’s official: Fred Thompson has dropped out of the presidential race, and word is that he’s neither interested in a VP slot nor a Cabinet post. On an apolitical note, my prayers go out to him and his mother, who is reportedly ill.

Thompson’s campaign failed because of a couple factors, both within and beyond his control. To start with the latter, several of the early primary states simply were not looking for conservatism, as Mike Huckabee & John McCain’s victories have shown. While I must admit some measure of satisfaction at the ramifications this has for Mitt Romney’s chances, I would much rather have President Thompson than Huck, the Maverick, or Rudy Giuliani in the White House, and stronger support for him would have at least been reassuring that the Republican Party still takes the Reagan coalition seriously.

Second, Thompson is a man with a reasonably conservative voting record, and a knack for articulating conservatism clearly and plainly, but in the run-up to his candidacy, the blogosphere built him up into so much more. He was the second coming of Ronald Reagan, we were told, the knight in shining armor who would ride in and save us from the three-headed RINO known as
Rudy McRomney. No man could have lived up to such fire.

On the flip side, he tried playing with that fire, and got burned in two ways. First, he milked the “consistent conservative” mantra for all he could…even though it wasn’t true. Abortion, immigration, McCain-Feingold, and No Child Left Behind—four separate issues on which he initially took liberal (and, in the case of NCLB, anti-federalism) positions, but later moved rightward. Granted, I welcome his changes of heart, just as I welcome Romney’s. But Thompson’s choice to compound his past errors with fresh lies, while compelling to
the most ardent Fredheads, served instead to dull the man’s shine in the eyes of more critical observers. And even his current platform was found wanting in key areas. While positioning himself as a cultural conservative, he supported neither full legal protection for the unborn nor a national definition of marriage.

Second, whether it was the hero-worship going to his head or natural arrogance, Thompson seemed to think the GOP nomination was his for the asking. I suspect he expected to ride the hype straight to the nomination. Since he’s obviously the base’s only choice, who needs
a well-oiled organization? Fools who couldn’t see the obvious were dismissed as anti-Thompson conspirators.

Now that he’s out, there’s speculation that Fred Thompson, just as his fellow ex-candidate Duncan Hunter
has pledged to do, will take on a more active role for conservatism in other venues. I hope he does, and despite my criticism, I welcome his contributions to the fight for America, and thank him for making the attempt to give our nation a conservative president.

The good news is, we still have
a strong, full-spectrum conservative in the race, and he’s got the skills, organization, and funds necessary to go all the way…if we’re willing to unite behind him. Ladies & gentlemen, it’s never been clearer—Mitt Romney is the man for the job. Let’s give it our all to put him in the White House.

Debate Reaction

Didn’t we just do this?
Deja vu aside, I’ve gotta admit that tonight was Fred Thompson’s night. Alert and on target, he stood out from the pack (plus, he gave Huck a much-deserved whuppin’). His performance didn’t by any means overcome his problems on the issues or his disingenuousness, so I still can’t support him in the primary. But the general? We could do far worse.
My man Mitt did well tonight, and his suggestion that Ron Paul stop reading the Tyrant of Tehran’s press releases rocked. But he didn’t stand out, either. I think he’s trying to compete for the change banner a little too much (though, to be fair, it’s not a new thing for him – he’s always framed himself as the Mr. Fix-It candidate). Just show us the Mitt Romney that blew away CPAC 2006 and delivered “Faith in America,” and there’s no contest.
John McCain and Rudy Giuliani gave passable, but unremarkable performances. Rudy’s lucky social issues weren’t on the docket, and McCain rightly noted that we don’t trust DC to solve immigration – leaving out the fact that he’s one of our main reasons, naturally.
The knives were out for Mike Huckabee tonight, and he didn’t handle it well. Did he raise taxes? “What I raised was hope.” Bah. He’s a phony, and on stage he sounded like it. It’s telling that the only time he looked strong was in comparison to Ron Paul (on Israel).
Speaking of Rabid Ron, why was he even invited (aside from his trademark court jester role)? Did he pout too much about the last one? His foreign policy is disastrous, he flirts with anti-America-ism, and he comes across as an unstable coot. Maybe he was just there to artificially raise everyone else’s stature by comparison. Lame.

Odds & Ends

Good cultural news? Debbie Schlussel points to a possible shift away from rap music, in the form of decreasing sales. I’d have to see more than this to be persuaded that an actual movement away from this garbage is taking place, but we can hope.

Fred Thompson entered the No-Spin Zone tonight. Bill O’Reilly treated him well, and he came off well. Can we dispense with the “Fox is out to get me” hooey now?

Mark Steyn takes on the thought police and Canadian Islamic Congress

Duncan Hunter is
staying in the race, and unfortunately, it sounds like he’s going into meltdown mode. Congressman: YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BE THE NOMINEE.

The 20 most annoying liberals? Indeed.

Post-Debate Analysis

Some reactions to last night’s debate…

The absence of the bottom tier was refreshing (and also
whipped the Paultergeists into a frenzy).

I think Romney, Thompson & Giuliani all had good nights, though Huckabee suffered when Mitt
pinned him to the wall.

We all know John McCain is a genuine war hero, but he seemed to remind us of it more than usual last night. If he’s not careful, he could wind up reminding voters of John Kerry (only without the treason).

There’s a
perception out there that moderator Chris Wallace denied Fred his full share of the airtime. I sure didn’t see it.

The talking point du jour has been “change” lately, and Rudy actually had the best answer to it: that change can be for better or worse, and isn’t a positive in and of itself.

Recap: Huck, Mitt & Fred

Looks like I spoke too soon about the potency of Mike Huckabee’s campaign—his standing has improved pretty dramatically in recent weeks. I still can’t see him winning the nomination, but I can see him further dividing the cultural Right, thereby helping Giuliani’s chances.

Of course, once people take notice of you, the warts get noticed too—and Huck’s got warts in spades.
This Hot Air post links to a lot of the details, and there’s even reason to question his credibility on his main/only selling point, social conservatism. Most recently, Huck’s been taking flak for his foreign policy vision, which is peppered with complaints to the effect of “George Bush has been too mean,” both to the international community and to Iran (yes, that Iran).

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has picked up a couple major endorsements: National Review
makes a compelling argument that not only is he the best man for the job, but his nomination is necessary to keeping the Republican coalition together; and Judge Robert Bork trusts Romney to shape the Supreme Court as President. Mitt’s much-speculated-about “Faith in America” speech (transcript here, video here) was outstanding, as well. From religion’s actual role in our nation’s past to its proper role in her present, he brought these truths to the public eye with eloquence and passion.

It hasn’t all been clear skies for Mitt, though. Romney’s recent Meet the Press appearance
highlighted his past willingness to consider a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, as well the fact that he stands by his support for an assault weapons ban and the Brady Bill.

On immigration, I’d be lying if I said Romney’s changes of opinion don’t give me pause, and I don’t begrudge anyone for mistrusting him. But again, there are also reasons to be wary of his opponents (check the Hot Air link above for the dirt on Huck, and my archives for Fred Thompson). Speaking of immigration, though, Romney’s not the only one who’s seen the light—here’s the “consistent conservative”
arguing for a path to citizenship, every bit as recently as Mitt, if not more so.

As for guns, Romney is wrong. But every member of the Republican field is lacking in some way. It’s our job, then, to take a hard look at our priorities as conservatives. If gun rights are your number-one issue, then by all means, vote for Fred. I’m a full-spectrum conservative who understands and values the right to bear arms as well as the next guy. But I consider one million abortions annually a greater injustice than assault weapon bans, so the right to life takes precedence—and
there (as well as marriage), Thompson is lacking. Further, as I’ve argued before, the fact that Mitt is sticking to his guns (no pun intended) seems to run counter to the idea that he’s a phony who abandons his opinions for expediency.

Open Letter to the National Right to Life Committee RE: Fred Thompson

Please forward & distribute the following message to every pro-life minded voter you can. The right to life and the presidency are too important for us to stand idle while our leaders make such a colossal mistake.
To the Leadership of the National Right to Life Committee,

As a
longtime pro-life activist, I read with great concern reports that the National Right to Life Committee intends to endorse Sen. Fred Thompson for the Republican presidential nomination (PDF link). With all due respect, this decision is utterly maddening.

As a lobbyist, Thompson
lobbied on behalf of Planned Parenthood, and his campaign denied it until faced with the proof. He was a major proponent of so-called campaign finance reform, which has been a major impediment to the pro-life movement. He has suggested that he would not vote to ban abortion at the state level (indeed, on the campaign trail he says state authorities “can do whatever they want” about abortionists, distancing himself from the debate—and in both of these stories, he raises the specter of pregnant women thrown in jail, a common pro-abortion scare tactic). Most recently, he told Tim Russert that he opposes the Federal Human Life Amendment, because “people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with. That’s what freedom is all about.”

when Thompson says he will use “the Presidency to encourage policies that promote a culture of life,” he doesn’t have any sort of meaningful legal protection for the unborn in mind. One has to wonder, then, why the NRLC would throw its support behind a man whose rhetoric doesn’t match his promises.

Is it because he opposes Roe v. Wade, and promises to appoint judicial originalists to the Supreme Court? So do
Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain. Is it because of doubts about Romney’s sincerity? It can’t be—Thompson was once pro-choice as well, and it isn’t clear that his current position is significantly different. Or is it because simply, as their endorsement says, they think Thompson “can win”? If such a (premature) calculation is their reason, then it’s truly depressing to see the NRLC put politics over principle.

There is a reasonable pro-life case to be made for Thompson, should he be our sole alternative to Sen. Hillary Clinton. But we are in the primary, not the general election, and the pro-life goal should be the candidate who will be the best advocate for unborn rights. As
NRLC co-founder Dr. John Willke has recognized, that someone is Mitt Romney, who, in addition to pro-life stances on Roe, judges, taxpayer funding, and partial-birth abortion, also expresses support for nationwide legal protection for the unborn—including the Human Life Amendment.

The NRLC’s own “Open Petition to the Republican Party” (
PDF file), which demands a pro-life presidential candidate, cites the GOP platform’s declaration that “Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions.” Based on his own words, Fred Thompson is not an advocate of legislative protection for the right to life, and therefore fails your own standard. Why are you settling for the lesser of America’s pro-life options, and why are you doing so at this stage in the race?

In endorsing Thompson, you are setting a precedent that actually threatens the future success of the pro-life movement. If you decide Thompson’s weak stand on abortion is now enough to make someone our movement’s standard-bearer—especially when there is still a stronger viable alternative—you are, in effect, saying that pro-life doesn’t mean as much as it once did. You are defining the term down. Out with “certain unalienable rights” and in with the right to decide in favor of abortion as “what freedom is all about.”

For the sake of the one million
unborn babies per year who will be murdered by abortion, I beg you to reconsider this endorsement. If you do not, however, you can be sure that many pro-lifers like me will remember this incident, and find other organizations and paths with which to defend life—if need be, even from actions of the NRLC.

Calvin Freiburger

Thompson Opposes the Human Life Amendment

Transcript here and video here. Since federalism seems to be this guy’s excuse for everything (except on a state or local government’s right to set tax policy, apparently) I wonder if he has a problem with the Thirteenth Amendment too on states’ rights grounds?

If you support the Human Life Amendment, then there’s
only one major candidate who agrees with you.