Thus, I'm forced to agree with the Rev. Dobson -- a person I disagree with regularly -- that Fred is man who lacks "zeal and passion," two words which basically mean the same thing. (Dobson believes it's okay to hit small children with wooden spoons, and I -- like most sane people -- don't. I do believe it's fine to hit Dobson with them.)
I'm also ending my consideration of Mike Huckabee as a realistic candidate for the nomination. I believe Mike was one of the few evangelical Christians who ever spoke candidly to his co-religionists -- about life (and it's not ending at birth), about immigration reform, about anti-Catholicism among some evangelicals, about taxes, about poverty, about equal voting rights for citizens in D.C., and many other things.
But Mike's chances of winning the nomination are very slim, in large part because his supporters are strong on prayers for him and short on cash for his campaign. Any candidate who doesn't have $30 million-plus on hand in January of next year had better seek another line of work. That's when the "campaigns" will become indistinguishable from a blizzard of television advertising in America's most expensive media markets.
I hope Mike has a great future -- he's only in his early 50s. But that future will not involve his getting the nomination or winning the election.
In politics getting "half-a-loaf" should be an occasion for joy. Heck, getting a crust of bread is better than nothing. Politics truly is the art of the possible. It's also the art of learning how to live with the imperfect, which is all we're usually going to get in this lifetime. Heaven is way over yonder, and earth is right here beneath our feet.
Stephen R. Maloney
On Monday, I'll reprint John Hawkins' pro-Thompson e-mail, as well as my response. I have major problems with Fred Thompson as a candidate for the GOP nomination.
To me, he's the "designated conservative," in much the same way as frauds like Duke Cunningham (in jail for bribery and extortion as a congressman), Bob Ney (accepted money for votes from Jack Abramoff), Mark Foley (you know about him), David Vitter (of D.C. Madam fame), and Larry Craig (of men's room notoriety). These people discovered that being "pretend conservatives" (often with reflexive gay-bashing and lots of sentimental nonsense about "traditional families") was the key to winning elections. Those conservative voters who prefer rhetoric over reality backed them without question.
Being a responsible activist and voter means being realistic about the world in which we live. It means understanding that the U.S. is not -- and will not be -- a theocracy. It means recognizing that tens of millions of voters have shifted from Republican to Independent and Democrat.
Being realistic involves understanding that there will never (at least in our lifetimes) be a constitutional amendment outlawing either abortion or gay marriage. There are not 50 votes in favor of such measures in the Senate, and a constitutional amendment requires 67 votes. Candidates who talk about such things as possibilities are pandering and, worse, lying to the public.
In the 2008 election, there will be 22 Republican-held Senate seats up for election, and only 12 Democratic seats. Some of those Republican seats (including the one in Virginia) -- perhaps many of them -- will be lost. The probability is that the Democrats will hold all 12 of theirs.
Changing demographics and the political naivete of some evangelicals will make it almost impossible to win the Presidency. James H. of Louisiana has mentioned that the Republican nominee will have a very hard time being competitive in Florida and Nevada. He could also have mentioned Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, among others.
Ohio, traditionally a Republican bastion, is now a strong Blue state. A liberal Democrat, Strickland, soundly defeated social conservative Ken Blackwell in the 2006 race for the governorship. A very liberal Democrat -- much more so than Hillary Clinton -- named Sherrod Brown won an Ohio Senate seat in 2006.
I keep hearing people who say that people in their church (evangelical) or neighborhood (affluent) "can't stand Hillary," so she will be beatable in 2008. Right now, it appears we would magically need to double such churches and neighborhoods to beat her.
The Gallup Poll shows the most popular male politician in the country is William Jefferson Clinton. The most popular female -- politician or otherwise -- is Hillary Rodham Clinton, with the second most popular being Oprah Winfrey.
Mike Huckabee is a good man, but his bland "goodness" will not enable him to overcome the raw political power of the Clintons. Fred Thompson presumably is a good something, but his cornpone style, vague federalism, and reputation for being the laziest man in D.C. don't augur well for a campaign against Hillary.
I hear the refrain that goes "Run, Fred, run," and all I can think is, "Hide, Fred, hide." In this electoral season, we need not fantasy but rather a brutal honesty about the political situation.