Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Year’s Plea: Fred!

By Rick Morris

As managing partner of the FDH family, I want to wish all of the readers, viewers and listeners of our content a very Happy New Year.

Now, speaking only for myself …

Our 22nd edition of The FDH Lounge program this past Sunday night featured our first fantasy presidential election draft and a tremendous political roundtable afterwards. During the course of that discussion, I ended up butting heads with my fellow Dignitaries Burrell Jackson and Chris Galloway. Burrell is explicitly for Mitt Romney on the Republican side in the upcoming presidential race and Chris, while agreeing with me that Fred Thompson is the best candidate, does not oppose Mittens with nearly the same intensity I do (to put it mildly!). The segment was a truly outstanding piece of broadcast entertainment, as three passionate followers of the political game let loose as only we can. As Burrell and Chris correctly noted, my usual insane level of intensity was even more pronounced than usual as I begged and pleaded for what seems like the inevitable to be stopped – the Republican nomination of Mitt Romney.

Chris did not agree with my use of the word “conspiracy” to describe what is happening right now, and we could perhaps quibble on the exact application of the word vis-à-vis this process, but it is indisputable that the Grand Poobahs of the Republican party and the conservative movement are closing ranks behind Romney at light speed. I have already written here on how these self-appointed arbiters of what’s best for America, including a who’s who of the right-wing blogsphere, are having it both ways by ignoring Romney’s past aversion to conservatism while trying to read Mike Huckabee and John McCain out of the conservative movement. Huck and McCain have their share of deviations, to be sure, but it’s the height of hypocrisy to denounce them while praising Romney as a “full-spectrum conservative.”

I believe strongly that Romney cannot be trusted given the fact that he ran on one set of beliefs to get elected governor of a radical left state and a contrary set of ideas when trying to get elected nationally. I believe strongly that Romney, given his plastic, calculated, say-anything, politics-as-usual persona, will have absolutely no appeal to independent and Democratic voters in the fall – and that his cold corporate persona reinforces every preconceived notion about the Republican party not caring about the little guy and is particularly unsuited to draw votes in these uncertain economic times. I believe strongly that Romney is outside the Judeo-Christian tradition that has governed our country since its inception (and I urge those who disagree with me about this to at least research Romney’s religion first rather than spitting out tired clichés about religious bigotry). And I believe strongly that Romney has served as a magnet for every phony conservative leader who can’t sell out his or her beliefs fast enough.

It didn’t have to be this way. Earlier this year, Fred Thompson served as a beacon of hope for not only Republican voters, but also open-minded independents and Democrats who related to his plain-spoken common-sense approach. He chose the unconventional approach of trying to enter the race as an official candidate in the autumn months while serving as an unofficial “non-candidate” earlier. We can perhaps quibble on whether he should have thrown his hat in earlier or put in more appearances in the early states or any other “inside baseball” notion that wouldn’t have any resonance at all with the American people if the professional pundit class wouldn’t beat it into the ground. But what is clear as day is the notion that I angrily spit out to Chris Sunday night when he alluded to some of these notions working against Fred: if he loses this race, in large part it won’t be because of the self-inflicted wounds everyone speaks of incessantly. No, if he loses, it won’t be suicide on the part of his campaign. It will be premeditated murder on the part of the self-serving parasites in the Republican party and conservative movement who could have heeded his call to join a purifying movement to save our country but chose instead to sell their souls to Romney’s well-heeled greasy machine.

So yes, I agree that I was coming across with scary intensity Sunday night. Guilty as charged, because I’ve seen this routine before. The Republican party as a rule casts aside its best and most qualified candidate in favor of the person they cynically perceive as a winner for whatever reason. The insiders gathered in the smoke-filled rooms of D.C. in a panic in ’96 when their pet Bob Dole got smoked by the people’s populist Pat Buchanan in New Hampshire. Every piece of filthy politics imaginable got thrown Pat’s way over the next few weeks as the party succeeded in its foul desire to foist Bob Dole’s wrinkled bones on the American people in November. How’d that work out? In 2000, the process repeated itself as the GOP string-pullers decided early on that George W. Bush should be anointed as the prince. Pliable puppets like Rush Limbaugh slimed Buchanan on a daily basis and kidney-punched John McCain relentlessly when he emerged as Bush’s main competition. Is there any sane observer of the political process who is still willing to say that George W. Bush was the best possible candidate for president on the Republican side in 2000? Leaving aside Ronald Reagan, who I believe to be the best president of my lifetime (faint praise when you examine the weasels he’s measured against) and also the best since Lincoln, when has the GOP actually rallied behind a strong and attractive-on-policy candidate?

Again, I am not for McCain or Huckabee, I am strongly for Fred Thompson. But I do not brush off lightly the one-sided treatment these candidates have received from the GOP and right-wing nomenklatura. In this zero-sum game that we find ourselves in just prior to the Iowa caucuses, an attack on McCain or Huck for being unauthentic while ignoring every objectionable aspect of the Romney campaign is a blatant in-kind contribution to Team Mittens. Likewise, the simple-minded dismissals of Fred as a non-starter are dishonest because they serve the exclusive purpose of pushing Romney towards ultimate inevitability.

Burrell warned me that if enough people agree with me that Hillary Clinton will end up getting elected president. I repeat here what I said to him: it won’t be on our heads, it will be on the heads of those who crammed Romney down the throats of the American people as one of two nominees for president. The notion that absolutely any squalid excuse for a candidacy can be foisted on us with the bogeyman of Hillary Clinton being utilized to expect us to behave as robots will apparently have to be squashed the hard way when the Mittbots end up ensuring the third Clinton term.

Despite my pessimistic tone above, I must mention and reiterate that it is not too late for this country to come to its senses. Fred posted an unbelievable video summation of the rationale for his candidacy and for what he will do for this country if elected. Chris and I joked about how I as a paleocon see the glass half empty. But I do believe these are dire and urgent times for our country. The Republican party, for all of my many and profound differences with it, remains the institution closer to my belief set by far, and it needs redemption after the many problems with adherence to conservative principles and competent execution of policies these past seven years. As was the case in 2006, the political winds are blowing strongly to the Democrats and we face the very real possibility in 2009 of a President Hillary Clinton working with an enlarged Democratic majority in the House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid having a filibuster-proof 60 votes in his back pocket on any issue. Our country cannot be saved by cynical attempts to rally around a politician perceived to be slick enough to be a winner. We can only salvage our future by getting behind an honest man who doesn’t pander and tell us what we want to hear – a man with experience who commands confidence by communicating strongly to us a principled vision for the future. That man is Fred Thompson, and in lieu of a general wish of Happy New Year for this country, on this day I wish for our country to prove itself worthy of many happy years to come by getting behind Fred while we still can.

No comments: