Sunday, January 13, 2008

Are You a Fred Head?

In the comments section of my riveting essay “To Be Or Not To Huckabee,” about GOP candidate Mike Huckabee, was a robust debate about Fred Thompson. Since there seems to be some interest in him, I figured I might as well write about him.

Like I said in my response to the Huckabee entry, I could probably live with Fred Thompson. I have a few sore spots with him, but he doesn’t look too bad. Unfortunately, I think this is because the other leading contenders (Rudy McRomney) are so bad, not because Thompson is so great.

To be fair, I’ll grade Thompson on my same personal hot-button issues that I did for Huckabee:

Second Amendment- Thompson does only fair here. Gun Owners of America (which grades politicians more strictly than the NRA) tracked 33 votes in the Senate during Fred’s tenure there. Of these, Fred voted pro-gun 20 times. While that sounds good, it means Thompson voted against the Second Amendment more than a third of the time. Major dings on Fred’s gun record include voting for the Lautenberg gun ban (an unconstitutional “ex post facto” law in which citizens could be stripped of a basic civil right for committing misdemeanor crimes, even if not convicted by a jury), for restricting gunshows and for the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act (technically this is an infringement of the First Amendment, but it was designed to bind the hands of pro-Second Amendment groups like the NRA and GOA).

Taxes and Spending- He voted for the Bush tax cuts, which were one of the few things that Bush did right. The National Taxpayers Union gave Thompson an “A” rating 88% of the time he spent in the Senate. Of the GOP candidates, that’s second only to Ron Paul’s 100% rating. So Freddy looks pretty good here.

10th Amendment/Limited Government- Kudos to Fred here too. He often voted against bills that he thought went against federalist principles, even if it ticked off his GOP comrades. He said: “Our government, under our Constitution, was established upon the principles of Federalism -- that the federal government would have limited enumerated powers and the rest would be left to the states. It not only prevented tyranny, it just made good sense.” Once again, I would put Fred behind only Ron Paul in this category. There are some blemishes on Fred’s record here too however. For example, Fred voted for the usurping “No Child Left Behind” law, which violates the Tenth, and for roving wiretaps, weakening of the Posse Commitatus law, and assorted other expansions of federal power. Still, not too bad compared to his Senate buddies.

So, in my book, Thompson does good … but not great. If Ron Paul didn’t get the nomination (perish the thought) and Thompson did, AND if it looked like Iowa was going to be an exceptionally close vote between Thompson and whatever socialist skunk that the Dems run, I suppose I might be persuaded to vote for Thompson instead of the Libertarian candidate. That’s as close to an endorsement as I can muster. Perhaps a nicer (and more succinct) way to say it is: If I had vote for a Republican besides Ron Paul, it would be Fred Thompson.

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