I have been touting Fred Thompson since January 2007, and it has been several months since I have written an article about him. Among other things, I have noted that Thompson antagonizes no one and would unite the Republican Party - no one really had anything bad to say about him in the New Hampshire debates, and the closest anyone came was John McCain, a close friend of Thompson. I have noted that Fred got the gay marriage issue precisely right - a constitutional amendment which does not require states to give full faith and credit to gay marriages is precisely the correct answer, even if his folksy way of stating it belied the intellect behind it. I have noted that Fred is exactly the right person to get Supreme Court nominees confirmed - did he not usher through Chief Justice Roberts? And I have observed that Fred Thompson has no skeletons in his closet or real "flip flops" on issues.
One other thing: Fred Thompson is an outsider. He left Washington in 2002. He has given up a career as a television star, the successor of Paul Harvey, and a film star after having left office voluntarily because he was sick of Washington. America, by the way, is sick of Washington too. To the surprise of everyone in the Beltway and no one outside the Beltway, Fred Thompson is now four percentage points ahead of Rudy Giuliani and leading the Republican pack. And Fred has just begun to campaign.
No conservative has a great a chance to win the Republican nomination as Thompson and for that reason, all of those Republicans unhappy with the choices prior to Thompson will gravitate to him. Expect, of course, the usual snipes at Thompson by pundits: he has no "fire in the belly" (his ambition is for America and not himself; he is "lazy" (six months ago he was starring in two television programs, making a movie, and sitting in for Paul Harvey); Fred is not a good on the ground campaigner (true - he is a great campaigner, as people will soon notice in New Hampshire and Iowa); Fred is not a good media communicator (The television persona of Arthur Branch in Law & Order? The backup voice of Paul Harvey? The role of POTUS in major motion pictures?); evangelicals, you know, the people who are close friends with so many Beltway pundits, "are uneasy" with Thompson (Mike Huckabee is the only Republican more naturally sympathetic to evangelicals than Thompson, and he will not win the nomination.) The sniping at Thompson is coming from those who do not like the fact that he refused to play by the rules of punditry and from those who have genuine disdain from people who have come from flyover country.
In the end, it will not matter. As conservatives gravitate around a man who is not only the only conservative who can win the nomination but also the only conservative who can beat Hillary, the whole flow of the presidential election will change. Pundits actually help Thompson by continuing to keep his expectation level low, so when he does win the next Republican debate, his stock will rise higher still.
Will Fred Thompson beat Hillary Clinton? Hillary is extremely unpopular, and Fred is liked by nearly everyone. Hillary purports to be the smartest woman in America, and Fred will prove a vastly superior debater because he actually is an outstanding actor and trial attorney. Hillary will not "draw" any votes that she does not already have, but Fred will prove a reassuring figure to moderates and a sympathetic figure to women voters. Hillary has flip-flopped on Iraq and the war on terror so many times that people have lost count, and yet Fred has been about as consistent on every issue as anyone could expect a senator to be. Hillary still seems to have scandals popping up - even during her campaign! - and Fred is as clean as a whistle (in fact, he built his career on convicting a corrupt Southern governor, a point he could slyly make more than once during the campaign.)
Likeability, integrity, wonderful voice, decades of excellent work in front of the camera, solid conservative credentials, inspiring life story, a unifying figure, a love of America instead of a lust for office - this is the Fred Thompson Story. At times it sounds like the Rodney Dangerfield Story, but not for long. Fred Thompson will not just get respect: he will earn it, as our next president.