Dear Friends:Before I get into the meat of this column, let me state something that might not be very obvious: this should not be construed as an endorsement of former US Senator Fred Thompson.
The Tennessee politician-actor-politician has yet to participate in a single debate with the already announced candidates who have spent the last year trudging snow in New Hampshire, stroking pigs in Iowa and not apologizing for speaking at Bob Jones University in South Carolina (which are the only states that really matterâ€¦but thatâ€™s for another column), so bestowing my blessing would be premature at this juncture.
Not that my support compares in overall magnitude to the public backing of the dogcatcher of Peterborough (NH) anyway.
But I think Republicans deserve to have as many options as possible going into the Chinese fire drill that is our frontloaded primary system. Especially with the rogues gallery of prospective nominees we are stomaching.
Since my first two choices either took a powder (South Carolina governor Mark Sanford) or called the wrong guy Macaca (ex-US Senator George Allen of Virginia), Iâ€™m as enthusiastic about this crop as I am about a trip to the dentist.
Letâ€™s see what we have so far.
John McCain- The proud father of the bastard child that is campaign finance reform, flirted with the idea of being John Kerryâ€™s running mate and a strident defender of immigration â€œreformâ€ legislation that is going over about as well with the party base as broccoli-flavored ice cream. Oh, did I mention he has all the sleekness of Bob Dole without his special blue pills?
Mitt Romney- OK, this guy tried â€œout-gayingâ€ Ted Kennedy in a failed US Senate bid and his attempt to appease Massachusetts voters one year and the national party base another has left him with more stated positions than a Kama Sutra guide.
Rudy Giuliani- Sure to make the platform committee resemble the battle of Thermopylae with his unapologetic views on abortion, gay rights and gun control.
Mike Huckabee- Nice guy, decent musician, bad on immigration, worse in polls.
Sam Brownback- Seriously?
Duncan Hunter- The Dennis Kucinich of the Right.
Tommy Thompson- Will probably retire from the field before Brett Favre
Jim Gilmore- See the above.
Ron Paul- Should be forced to sign a document that he will not seek the presidency under a different party label if he wants to participate in presidential debates. Otherwise, he is little more than pre-game entertainment.
Tom Tancredo- Pat Buchanan minus a positive integer in polls.
Newt Gingrich- How many times do I have to tell you people he is not running and is only selling books.
So in this political grand prix of Yugos, Hyundais, Gremlins and Ramblers, itâ€™s no wonder why the party faithful are begging for the intervention of a candidate they hardly know anything aboutâ€¦not that itâ€™s unprecedented (see Bush, George W. 2000).
Not that Thompson doesnâ€™t have some of the same problems that plague his rivals.
Heâ€™s been divorced (one of several non-Mormon Republican candidates with multiple wives), voted for McCain-Feingold, has a health concern (cancer) and has a Romneyesque problem regarding a current abortion position (pro-life) that does not square with previous statements of acceptance with the controversial procedure.
Though in contrast, Thompsonâ€™s ex-wife drama is nowhere near the same level as Rudy and Newtâ€™s, openly regrets his vote for campaign finance reform, his lymphoma is in remission and can counter past-pro-choice quotes with a solid pro-life voting record as a US Senator.
Is Thompson the most rock-ribbed conservative out there? No. But he is the most reliably conservative of the candidates currently polling double-digits.
In the end, the Right might find themselves forced into striking yet another Faustian bargain with the party establishment, in which they agree to rally around the standard of the party nominee, no matter how artificially flavored their conservative credentials are, in exchange for good judges and leaving the stained bar coaster that is the party platform alone.
Besides, the Democratic nomination of the Wicked Queen will do more to unify the GOP than any mid-afternoon convention address by Pat Robertson could ever hope to, even if the November election pits two people who marched in the same gay pride parade.
But before conservatives grudgingly agree to settle for less, itâ€™ll be nice to have a credible candidate who is close to being the real conservative deal mixing it up with the pretenders.
Mike Bayham is a political consultant in south Louisiana and can be contacted at MikeBayham@yahoo.com.