Here in Missouri, we convened the informal Republican caucus that occurs during the family reunion, usually after the barbecued dinner, when the fat cat elder statesmen of the family and I gather in the living room of my uncle’s home and commune in the warmth of similar opinions. Although we tend to all lean Republican, we espouse different basic philosophies. But over barbecue, turkey, or ham, we come together to share brief commentary on the sad state of the world and those darn liberals.
Cousin Tat, a doctor, represents a seemingly evangelical bent, almost a liberation theology knowledge of scriptures combined with personal belief translated to action. He’s concerned about the environment, the corrupting effect of money in politics, and promoting alternative and holistic medicines and treatments. Still, he doesn’t believe the media is telling the truth, and he tends to deplore the Democrats more than the Republicans.
Uncle Jim, a realtor, comes from the socially and fiscally conservative milieu. He attends church every Sunday, sits on the boards of several charitable organizations, and participates in the local Republican party extensively.
Uncle Mike, an information technology professional, uses Clinton as an invective, trends isolationist on foreign policy, and thinks the federal government spends too much money.
Me, I’m a libertarian-conservative who votes futilely for the Libertarian candidate when I’m upset with the Republican incumbent or just to burnish my independence. I think the best government balance would be a Libertarian legislature passing few laws and a Republican administration rigorously enforcing them.
So we gathered in the tastefully-appointed living room, let our belts out, and looked beyond the 2006 elections toward the 2008 presidential election. After deriding the Bush administration for its immigration policy and the wildly out-of-control spending afforded us by the “winning” combination of a Republican president and a Republican legislature seeking to be compassionately conservative, but mostly re-elected.
Uncle Jim lamented the lack of an obvious candidate. John McCain won’t do, we agreed. Besides, Uncle Jim—or maybe it was Tat—said, he knew some people who’d heard from someone in another legislator’s office that McCain was a real hothead. Not to mention the McCain-Feingold Act. Come to think of it, I didn’t mention it, but it’s why I’ll not vote for McCain again, even though I contributed in 2000.
What about Guiliani? I said.
The social conservatives won’t come out and vote for him, Uncle Jim said.
They’ll come out to vote against Hillary, I said.
No way. My uncle sounded like he was already penciling in other plans for the first Tuesday in November.
He’ll prosecute the war on terror, I said.
Even though Uncle Mike doesn’t think that the United States should be the world’s policeman, he was for Guiliani. But Uncle Jim insisted that the social conservatives wouldn’t vote for Giuliani.
I flipped through my brain’s pages for the lists of contenders to whom the blogosphere and the newspapers are paying early attention. George Allen came to mind. But I didn’t want to explain to them who he was. Matt Blunt will be old enough, I said. The Missouri Governor will turn 35 by the election, and I had once run a small-time blog called Draft Matt Blunt 2008.
Perhaps his dad could pull a few strings, Uncle Jim said, but the rest of the group didn’t think Blunt had a chance. I mentioned that in 1992, an unknown governor from Arkansas had come out of nowhere to win the presidency, but ultimately, we knew that Matt Blunt wasn’t the man around whom we and the party could rally.
I thought about strong, effective, charismatic executives who were born in this country and whom the nation recognized and respected. Probably not Missourian John Ashcroft, whose name has become synonymous with overreaching government authority and covering statues’ breasts. I remembered Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin. They still like him well enough in Wisconsin, a state that tilted Democrat last time. He also served in the cabinet in the Bush Administration, but not in a department anyone pays much attention to. Then, I thought, that’s the wrong Thompson.
Fred Thompson, I said.
He was going to nail Clinton until John Glenn traded all his respect for a ride in space, Uncle Mike said.
You know, everything that comes out of his mouth is common sense, Uncle Jim said. I’ve heard a rumor that he is going to replace Paul Harvey.
He’s got a good voice and he’s recognized, I said. He plays a lot of good guy roles.
Who’s Fred Thompson? Cousin Tat said. After an explanation that the man was an actor and a former senator, Tat still couldn’t place him. However, Uncle Mike drew the Ronald Reagan comparison.
So there you have it, men in power in the party: 75% of the caucus in that large suburban home in the middle of the country approved of Fred Thompson for president, and the other 25% hadn’t heard of him. He will be recognized by much of the voting public, has bona fide conservative credentials, and has gravitas (but that’s so 2000).
Fred Dalton Thompson is an experienced legislator, but not one who held office long enough to feel its corruption. He left office of his own accord to pursue a lucrative career that doesn’t require schmoozing current legislators or offering them campaign contributions or kickbacks. He offered a stern, strong voice of national defense when he narrated the Citizens United ad about terrorism and Iraq. So if he wants to take a pay cut from network television and movies, he should be our man in 2008. He unites the party, or at least our small portion of it, like no one else does.