What is Fred waiting for?
By J.B. Williams
Every Republican presidential candidate in the race so far, invited themselves to the party. Meanwhile, the only two men holding an invitation from the people, Thompson and Gingrich, have yet to accept.
Gingrich is busy doing what Gingrich does, building a grassroots organization designed to effect policy whether he actually runs for office again or not. But what is Fred Thompson up to and what is he waiting for? The conservative core of his party has been clear - they intend to draft him for '08… What's the holdup?
As one who knows a little about Thompson, not the actor, but the person, the politician, the patriot - I can venture a guess…
First, don't let the gentle southern drawl fool you. Fred Thompson is a very bright fellow. He's also a politically astute fellow and an old fashioned patriot. If anything, he may be too smart to set upon a quest for the most thankless job in the world…
Ten Republican's discussed the issues in the first official GOP presidential debate and Thompson is polling better than seven of them, sometimes eight, without entering the race or attending the debate. Is waiting for that field to weed itself a bit before tossing his hat in the ring a bad strategy? Not if he keeps climbing in the polls and drawing attention by not announcing…
But beyond that point, Thompson has a very serious problem on his hands. He is both smart enough to know it and bold enough to confront it head on…before agreeing to enter the fray.
The Bad News
Thompson knows exactly who is drafting him, why they are drafting him and what they expect of him. He knows that true conservatives, fed up with systemic bi-partisan anti-Americanism in Washington, are at the core of the Draft Thompson movement. He knows that this group is through compromising their values for faux conservatives.
He also knows that to gain the Republican Party nomination, win the general election and actually live up to the high standards set by those drafting him; he will have to find a way to dance with the devil in charge, without getting bit… No easy task for even the smartest of men.
As a result, he knows that winning in '08 won't work unless he can win with long enough coat tails to shift control of congress back to the right, giving him the power needed to affect real change.
Everything I know about Fred, says that he is not likely to announce a candidacy unless and until he is able to see himself winning with that kind of mandate… He will not want to fail those drafting him.
The Good News
This is exactly why he is the people's choice…
This is why millions of American conservatives have chosen him as the leader they believe in most. He understands what is being asked of him and he won't accept unless he sees a way clear to accomplish those goals. That alone makes him attractive, but it also makes him extremely careful in his response to that call.
If he sees a way to make the kind of difference expected of him, he will run and most likely will win. The trick will be doing so without compromising the total agenda he is being drafted to pursue…
And that is his problem… My guess is - if he senses any lack of commitment in those drafting him, any hesitation on their part to see this thing through to the bitter end, and make no mistake, he will face brutally bitter opposition, he won't run…
The pressure for Thompson to answer the call of the conservative base in mounting, but the pressure for him to compromise away those principles in order to win, will be even greater.
Let's face it. Who ever the next president might be, they are walking into a monumental crap storm. The international war on terror is one thing, but the deep divisions in this country between an anti-American left and an increasing intolerant right, is quite another.
No intelligent individual would knowingly walk into that buzz saw thinking they could make any real difference, without a real true people's mandate for real change in hand. The kind of mandate other politicians claim, but can only dream about…
Fred Thompson is weighing all of this as we speak and it appears that he does not yet see a clear mandate from the people. One that will sweep him into office with the kind of power necessary to achieve the mission asked of him.
Thompson is likely the only politician on the horizon at this moment in time that could make this kind of difference. All the others are too tied up with old inside the beltway obligations to even attempt real change.
But without a people's mandate, even Thompson will be limited as to what he could accomplish. Thompson is wise enough to know this and he is looking for that mandate…
He's not job-title shopping or looking to cash-in on the political brass ring, or write some goofy self-centered legacy. His life is better off, outside of politics and he knows it.
So, if he runs it will be for the right reasons and only if he sees a clear path to affect real change.
Which is to say - it's up to those drafting him to convince him that they are prepared to unite behind him with just such a mandate, and stay in the fight until the fight is finished, seeing this thing through no matter how ugly it gets.
I'm not sure how many of this kind of Americans we have left any more. But if we do, now would be the right time to stand and be counted…
(c) J.B. Williams 2007
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