Tuesday, January 22, 2008
On this day:

Dad-gummit, Fred!

Wouldn't you know it? Not two weeks after I endorse someone for President, he goes and drops out of the race.

I'm not alone in believing that the Republican nomination could have been Fred's for the taking. He is a conservative in both political philosophy and personal temperament: the sort of conservative who could unite the various factions of the Republican Party in a way that is simply inconceivable with any one of the other candidates. Those who listened to Thompson on the campaign trail and in the debates know him to be a passionate and effective advocate of limited government, federalism, free markets, and a thoughtful, balanced foreign policy of peace through strength. They also know him to be a man of quiet confidence in American exceptionalism, willing and able to challenge those who call for radical changes to American society and government, even when those changes stand recklessly opposed to good reason and good government.

Unfortunately, Fred Thompson didn't catch fire with Republican voters. They liked him. They were intrigued by him. But they apparently weren't convinced that he had what it took to make it to the White House. Some say he got into the race too late...a few even say he got in too early. Either way, pretty much everyone agrees that he failed to campaign aggressively enough. While he won voters' sympathy, he didn't win their votes.

I'm disappointed that Thompson decided to drop out before I had a chance to vote for him on February 5, but I don't regret giving him what little support I could - even if it was for only two weeks. I still think that of all the candidates running this year - Republican or Democrat - Fred Thompson would make the best President. In fact, if the Alabama Republican Party's ballots have already been printed up, I'm good-minded to vote for him anyway, whether he likes it or not.

But that would be a symbolic vote...maybe even a protest vote...and certainly a wasted vote. And I prefer not to waste my vote. I guess that means it's back to square one, and it's a really tough decision.

As bad as I hate to say it, I'm leaning towards McCain. There are lots of reasons why I can't get excited about John McCain. First and perhaps foremost, I view the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act as one of the most brazen attacks on the First Amendment since the Sedition Act. He also opposed the Bush tax cuts, condemning them with just the sort of class-warfare language we've come to expect from Democrats. His preferred response to climate change is to enact regulations that would impede the private sector's ability to develop new technologies to combat it. Just last year, he supported an immigration policy that would amount to amnesty for illegal aliens, all but accusing the many opponents of his plan of racism. A year ago, I would've been in the "Anyone But McCain" crowd, but I can't say that anymore. As things stand now, I'm giving him a second look, for three reasons:

1) I am convinced that a McCain presidency would be vastly preferable to a Clinton or Obama presidency, 2) I'm almost convinced that McCain has the best chance of any of the remaining Republican contenders to win the election in November, and 3) I reject the self-defeating notion that somehow electing a Democrat in 2008 would actually be good for conservatism.

Coalition politics is a nasty thing sometimes, but in a republic such as ours, I don't see much of an alternative besides sitting on the sidelines symbolically protesting with a stream of wasted votes. In today's world, with all its threats and challenges, that's just not a responsible alternative.