...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

May 10, 2007

Draft Thurl Ravenscroft!

I feel the need to disabuse you all of the myth that is Fred Thompson.

Fred Thompson is not the savior. Repeat. Fred Thompson is not the savior. He does not ride a white stallion. He does not wear a white hat. Thus, he can not ride to the rescue of a Republican party that has lost its way. Stop expecting him to.

I'm not convinced that Fred Thompson will enter the presidential race. Neither am I convinced that if he runs he will win the nomination. He's currently polling third. Third is not first. Third is third. And right now that means he's in the low teens. Despite the fact that a lot of otherwise reasonable people think he's a viable candidate, polling in the teens does not indicate a huge groundswell of support.

I think a lot of people are projecting their own hopes on Fred, unreasonably. Sure, none of the top candidates are perfect conservatives. Sure, George W. Bush has been a disappointment for those of us who idolize Ronald Reagan. But wishing Fred Thompson is another Ronald Reagan does not make him so. And wishing Fred Thompson is another Ronald Reagan does not make him electable.

I've accepted this fact and you should too: We will not see another Ronald Reagan in our lifetime. The best we can hope for is that our presidents try to emulate him, but they will never duplicate him. The man was that great.

Please also remember the following (those of you who know a lot about Reagan should already know this): Reagan was a great man and a great president because above all, he was a great thinker. He thought big things, and he thought about them all his life. Before he entered politics he had his own idea of how the world should work. When he entered public life he put his ideas into practice. But make no mistake, the thinking part came first.

Fred Thompson has it exactly backwards, and too many people are forgetting that. Reagan left acting to enter public service. Fred Thompson left public service to become an actor. That should tell you something about their comparative priorities.

And don't tell me people aren't attracted to Thompson in large part because he is an actor. I'm sure the theory is that his acting experience should give him the ability to connect to the average voter. Reagan was an actor and he was "the great communicator." Therefore all actors who run for office should make great communicators. It sounds silly when you say it out loud because it is silly.

"But," you say, "Fred Thompson agrees with me on all the issues." Yah well, so do I. Why don't you write my name in? Being right on the issues is not enough, and never has been. Running for president is a huge, difficult job and I don't think Fred has what it takes to win.

First, you gotta have the right contacts, and lots of them. What contacts does Fred have? Contacts get you donors, and volunteers, who in turn get you money. You need a lot of money to run for president, and this time around you need a lot more than during past elections because the big states have all moved their primaries up front. Name recognition is not enough.

You still need money because you have to pay big staffs, and consultants, and they all have to travel, and you have to buy ads and computers and cell phones and pay rent on offices in fifty states, and spend your money on countless other expenses that eat it up like crazy. At this late date, Thompson's rivals have too big a head start.

Besides that, all the most experienced consultants are spoken for. Who's going to guide Thompson's campaign? Will he have to settle for some amateur? If you think these things don't matter, you're dreaming. Bush got half his contacts from family and business connections. The other half Karl Rove brought with him.

I'll always remember something I heard Phil Jackson say to his team in a huddle during one of their losing playoff runs. "I know you guys want to win, wanting to win is not enough." I know lots of people want Thompson to win, but it's not enough. He has to have the resources, the money, the people, the contacts, the ideas and the fire in the belly. I don't see him having any of that stuff. All I see is a relatively likeable conservative, who's been flattered way too much for anyone's good.

And as for qualifications, I have as much executive experience as Fred Thompson. What has he ever run in his life? A few months ago I explained one reason why I prefer candidates with executive experience over former legislators.

Theoretically, executives must work in the real world where results are expected. Therefore, they should be more results oriented. Legislators on the other hand, work in a world of theoretical projections, possibilities and imaginary outcomes. When they fuck up, they're rarely held to account because they simply blame the other party, the executive, or both.
Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, Thompson only had eight years experience in the Senate. What are his accomplishments? If you can name any, how do they match up with Rudy's, or Romney's or Huckabee's records as executives. Even more than running for the post, being president is also a huge, difficult job. Thompson would need on-the-job training. I don't care how solid he is on the issues. I'm really not sure I want someone who's never run an organization running the executive branch of the most important organization on the planet.

"But, he's got a great speaking voice..." Okay. He does have a pleasant baritone. But if that's all it takes to get your vote, why stop at baritone? Why not draft a bass? If vocal timbre is all it takes to be president, we should have had a President Thurl Ravenscroft!


Posted by annika, May. 10, 2007 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


"The best we can hope for is that our presidents try to emulate him, but they will never duplicate him."

Sadly, you're right about that, but I'm still hoping you are wrong about Thompson.

"Reagan was a great man and a great president because above all, he was a great thinker.

Indeed. Gerard Baker recently noted:

[The President was being briefed on the invasion plans by his senior military officers just before the Grenada operation. As was often the case, Mr Reagan did not seem to be paying close attention, according to one of those present. But when the briefing was over he had one question. He wanted to hear again the number of troops the planners were going to send in. He was told a figure and shook his head. “Make it twice that,” he told a slightly puzzled general. Asked why, the President said calmly: “If Jimmy Carter had sent 16 helicopters rather than eight to Desert One to rescue the US hostages in Iran in 1980, you’d be sitting here briefing him today, not me.”]

To me, however, Reagan's biggest "sin of omission", as far as I know, was not suitably avenging the deaths of those Marines in Beirut. By "suitably", I mean that the administration's response should have been to depopulate the area within a 300 mile radius. It would provide some solace if I at least knew that KGB-styled acts of clandestine retribution were carried out by our gov't against the Hezbos.

Posted by: reagan80 on May. 10, 2007

Never see another Reagan? Hmmmm, well since I lived through the Reagan years as a Reaganite, I'll tell you this. You're seeing one now. Oh, he's not the great communicator, but most of it is there, and he's younger and more vigorous.

Almost nothing happened in the second Reagan administration. Reagan is remembered for confronting the Russkys, thus winning the cold war, an issue much in doubt when he left office, and for making the hard correct decision on tightening the money supply and ending inflation. Controlling inflation unleashed the torrent of economic growth that we live on today, but few recognize this.

Dubyah will be remembered for leading us out of the darkness of 9/11, and confronting Islam. We'll need to wait twenty years to get it in perspective.

Posted by: Casca on May. 11, 2007

I have to agree with Casca on his point. As far as foreign policy and taxes are concerned, Dubya is every bit a Reaganite. His fiscal spending, however, has been a disaster.

The biggest problem with candidates now is that they spend too much time talking about Reagan and not enough time just being a Reaganite. They need to stop talking about how great Reagan was and concentrate on going forward with the conservative agenda.

I don't know that we'll see a Reagan in the '08 election, but if the GOP gets stomped a couple more times like they did this passed November, someone is going to get the message and start acting like a true conservative again.

Posted by: Frank on May. 11, 2007

"Dubyah will be remembered for leading us out of the darkness of 9/11, and confronting Islam."

You're right, Casca. However, his once admirable stubbornness to cling to nation-building is bogging down our anti-proliferation efforts. As the Derb once stated...

[GWB should borrow a rhetorical figure from the Great Liberator and say: "If I could stop nukes from spreading around the Middle East without democratizing any of their countries, I would do it; and if I could stop it by democratizing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about democratization, and the Muslim Middle East, I do because I believe it helps to stop the spread of nuclear weapons technology to people who should not have it."]

Posted by: reagan80 on May. 11, 2007

Aw shucks Annika, next you'll be telling me that there's no Santa Clause!

Posted by: Janette on May. 11, 2007

re the Santa Clause, Tim Allen has done the most extensive research on that issue.

Posted by: annika on May. 11, 2007

This is a wonderful observation about Reagan's "thinking". The reason Reagan was so great is that he brought true conservatism to the White House, for the first time ever, maybe.
Reagan was a conservative visionary at a moment when few - outside of true believers - believed conservatism would work.

The Laffer Curve was less than a decade old when Reagan embraced it as his raison d'etre for tax cuts. The took some guts.

Reagan was a visionary on the USSR. Reagan did his own thinking - as Annika points out - on a range of social and societal issues. The man was his own thinker, and his own man. Reagan was a talented communicator who could dismiss his critics with a flick of his wrist.

GWB - I should say I am a big, humongous fan of GWB. I literally thank God that GWB is our President. GWB is a visionary about Islamism. GWB has done, maybe, as much as could've been done about Islamism, given the domestic cultural and political forces GWB was dealing with.

GWB is an earnest thinker about issues. He generally makes good decisions, and he generally plays the political knife-fight game well.

But GWB is not the seasoned and independent thinker Reagan was. Reagan made his national tour of public meetings in the early 1960's, when he represented GE. These meetings were the equivalent of talk radio. Reagan matched wits with all comers. I always think this was like graduate school for Reagan's political thinking. I believe it seasoned him, and forged his beliefs, and gave him confidence in his beliefs.

A confident President - a seasoned thinker, with confidence in his own beliefs - would've never signed McCain-Feingold into law; would've never filed a friend of the court brief in favor of Affirmative Action in the Michigan case; would've never allowed U.S. controlled Al Hurra to broadcast Islamist propaganda; would've never allowed Condi to meet with Assad. A seasoned President would've already "slipped", during a pre-speech sound test, and said into a hot mike: "the bombing of Tehran begins in 5 minutes."

I say this with great respect: I love GWB to death. But he is not the visionary, seasoned, confident intellect or talent which Reagan was.

Posted by: gcotharn on May. 11, 2007

I will say this: Roberts and Alito are about ten zillion times better than Reagan's SC appointees. They are about twenty zillion times better than danged Sandra O'Connor was. If GWB had not come along and defeated Gore, our nation might now be crumpled down upon our knees, groping in the dirt. Thank God for GWB. History will look upon GWB with great favor, I think. Many decades from now, GWB might gain status as one of our nation's finest Presidents. Even if a worst case Iraq scenario occurs, and Iraq falls to an Islamist dictatorship, GWB has nevertheless introduced a vibrant democratic conversation into that region - for the first time in history. You can't keep people down on farm, once they have seen the big city. That vibrant democratic conversation will reap great and historic long term benefits - regardless of what happens in the short term. GWB rocks!

Posted by: gcotharn on May. 11, 2007


Posted by: shelly on May. 12, 2007


P.S. I don't think I've got 20 years to wait for GWB to be proclained a great president; I'm ready to do it now.

Posted by: shelly on May. 12, 2007

Even David McCullough wouldn't be able to turn GWB into a great president, if the surge fails.

Posted by: annika on May. 12, 2007

I am a radical in this area: our definition of success in Iraq is skewed. Decades from now, we may see that our venture in Iraq has already succeeded, via introducing a vibrant democratic conversation into the region, for the first time in history.

I think some rocky form of democratic government is likely to succeed long term in Iraq. I think that is a humongous historic achievement, though our Congress and media will, in the immediate, call it failure.

If the worst case happens, and democratic government is a complete failure in the immediate, I say any theocratic government will be eventually overthrown by a more moderate, open, and free government. Even in the worst case, our regional introduction of democracy will take hold, and will win out, eventually.

I'm way out on a limb with my opinion, but that is truly the way I see it.

Posted by: gcotharn on May. 12, 2007

"The reason Reagan was so great is that he brought true conservatism to the White House, for the first time ever, maybe."

Don't forget Coolidge.

"GWB has done, maybe, as much as could've been done about Islamism, given the domestic cultural and political forces GWB was dealing with."

True. Bush did everything he could to wage a good-intentioned war without having a draft. However, that is everything short of just carpet-bombing the place into submission or salting their walter supplies. While we may not have enough troops to perform a successful nation-building campaign, we do have more than enough to kill and break anything in their path. The administration should have listened to Ralph Peters sooner instead of persisting on idealistic, politically correct warfighting.

On getting more troops for the war, Neal Boortz had this idea:

[Getting more hardware is easy. Place the order and pay for it. Easy enough. But how do we get more troops? Some in Congress have called for a draft. Bad move. A Military draft is essentially forced labor. Short of an invasion of our shores by an aggressor, there is absolutely no public support for a draft in this country. Period. So we're going to have to recruit more troops.

But Iraq remains a dangerous place. Not too many people are going to want to sign up, knowing that they could come home in a body bag. But there is a way to get more people to sign up, and you can do it in a second. How do you think Halliburton is getting people to fly over to Iraq and drive trucks? You might say nobody in their right mind would do that.

But they're doing so because of one reason and one reason only: money. Private contractors are bringing people in to do jobs like that for six figures. If the U.S. Military announced tomorrow that the recruiting bonus was $50,000 and the annual combat pay was being increased to $100,000, we'd have all the troops we'd ever need. While they're at it, how about jacking up the death benefit to a million dollars? Whatever it takes.]

"....would've never allowed Condi to meet with Assad...."

I would also like to add to that list, "...would've never frittered away the treasury war chest, several months into the Iraq war, for a prescription entitlement program."

And, finally, I second Shelly's motion.

Posted by: reagan80 on May. 12, 2007

Good Gawd, I go on the road for a couple of days, and good fellowship breaks out. I love you guys too, even when you're wrong. I'm unelectable.

Posted by: Casca on May. 13, 2007

Anni, define failure.

Posted by: Casca on May. 13, 2007

Fred Thompson already was President -- didn't you see "Last Best Chance?"

Posted by: Col Steve on May. 15, 2007