Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Wanting Reagan Back: Does Fred Thompson Elicit Hope?
The following article was published last week in German, in Berlin's conservative newspaper Jünge Freiheit.
Some of us have no trouble remembering the halcyon days when we lived under the governance of Ronald the Great, and we’ve been yearning for a suitable heir ever since. George H. W. Bush was turned out of office after one term, because he wasn’t Reaganesque at all, as his renege on his “no new taxes” pledge demonstrated. Then the Clintons subjected America to eight years of siege by the pot-smoking, establishment-hating, free sex Woodstock generation. Reaganostalgia consumed conservatives, but in 2000 they opted for another round of Bush only because he was better than the alternative. But he never vetoed anything his spend-happy Republican friends sent him, and we were still disappointed. Though strong on national defense, especially post 9-11, he only sparingly used the bully pulpit for which Mr. Reagan had been so well known, and he has suffered for it.
So as the next campaign season looms, we find ourselves hoping, yearning, wondering if we will ever see another Reagan. Oh if only! Especially now, with the liberal Democrats making such strides toward renewed occupation of the White House. But as each week, month, and year passed in the second Bush term, the prospects ebbed of any real challenge coming from any real conservative. Even Rush Limbaugh uttered the horrific prognostication that as things stand now, there’s an 80% chance that Hillary Clinton will be the next president.
Who can come to the rescue? Rudy Guiliani and John McCain are leading the pack, but they are no conservatives; Mitt Romney is more conservative, but he’s far from the lead. Newt Gingrich might run, but he capitulated to the Democrats once before, when he was Speaker of the House. And none of these seems to provide the charisma and conviction we all took for granted in the Great Communicator.
But suddenly and unexpectedly, one bright hope has emerged.
Out of nowhere, Fred Thompson, former senator from Tennessee, has people doing double takes. He’s not in the race yet either, but he’s laid down some pretty strong hints, and the odds are that when the day comes, he’ll have little trouble raising the needed funds. Conservatives everywhere are earnestly hoping he will run, and even beginning to get goose bumps at the thought of it.
The reason for the excitement? They say Mr. Thompson is a down-to-earth, grass-roots kind of guy. He’s also bona fide conservative: strong defense, smaller government, less taxes, pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-right-to-bear-arms. And he has something the others haven’t got: he can walk the walk and talk the talk. Those who have interviewed him come away impressed that he has no canned answers, and that whatever he says springs not from any spin machine, but from heartfelt conviction. He’s also a self-deprecating sort, having nothing to prove, at ease with questioners, and quite good at making his case. Perhaps it’s because of all the practice he gets, playing conservative prosecutor Arthur Branch on Law & Order. That’s right, he’s also an actor. In so many ways, so eerily like our bygone hero. Just where has he been hiding? Perhaps it’s too good to be true, but until anyone finds out otherwise, people are daring to wonder if Fred Thompson could be our next Reagan. And if so, the next American president.