The New York Times printed a new article on Fred Thompson yesterday which was actually quite balanced. It took digs at him, for sure, but also pointed out some positives. Something which is quite rare from a biased paper like the NYT’s.
It starts and ends with his decision to find Bill Clinton guilty on obstruction, but not perjury. While his vote to excuse Billy’s behavior was wrong in my opinion, it was obviously not a decision that he made by the seat of his pants:
But as the historic impeachment trial neared, records show, Mr. Thompson agonized over what he saw as two “bad choices.”
Years before, as Republican counsel to the Senate Watergate committee, Mr. Thompson had witnessed the proceedings that led to President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation. Now, he pored over legal tomes on precedent. He ordered up lengthy staff memorandums on what the founding fathers intended when they said a president could be removed for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” scribbling his thoughts on a yellow legal pad.
Did the president’s cover-up of an affair with a White House intern justify deposing him “against the will of the people,” Mr. Thompson wondered, or should Mr. Clinton be protected by the very “baseness of his actions?” “His office is too high + the crimes too low,” he mused.
Yet would an acquittal not “haunt us in the future,” setting the bar so high that even a “serial perjurer” could not be removed from office so long as his conduct was “to cover up personal wrongdoing?”
“Worse of both worlds,” he scrawled on a scrap of paper. “Will be easier if you vote guilty.”
And that’s the kind of guy I want as President. Someone who does not follow the crowd, or his crowd, to get re-elected. Even if I disagree with him, as I do with Bush on some issues. I want a man who stands by his convictions even if it means his poll numbers go down.
His conservative credentials are quite high:
To judge from the ratings of interest groups, Mr. Thompson was a loyal Republican. He received a 100 percent score from anti-abortion groups, ardently championed the causes of the National Rifle Association, sided with the American Conservative Union 86 percent of the time and backed President Bush on the war with Iraq, tax cuts and most everything else. But such numbers do not necessarily measure a politician’s priorities.
In confidential surveys sent out by the Senate Republican leadership, Mr. Thompson recommended giving priority to issues like Congressional term limits and overhauling welfare, entitlement programs and the tax code. But he passed over divisive social issues like late-term abortion, cloning, physician-assisted suicide and affirmative action.
In an interview, Mr. Thompson said his priorities had not changed. The government’s primary responsibility is to address such problems as “a growing bureaucracy becoming more and more incompetent,” he said, adding that keeping the focus on such issues is “a politically good thing, too.”
He also worked quite hard on the issues most important to him:
Records show that Mr. Thompson delved into the areas that mattered most to him, regularly writing his own speeches and demanding detailed memorandums that often ran well past the one-page limit favored by some senators. He focused on green-eyeshade issues like budget and regulatory reform that, while not exactly the stuff of headlines, have far-reaching impact. Believing that many matters are best left to the states, he voted against popular measures to create federal crimes. Former aides say he could be a stickler for preparation and would often be found in the reading room off his office, prepping for votes and hearings over a cigar.
“On the lazy charge, I have to chuckle because I was there sometimes until 1 in the morning working with the man,” said Paul Noe, a Thompson aide when the senator led the Governmental Affairs Committee.
The most troubling part of the article is Fred’s trouble with detaining and listening to the enemy in this war:
Several former aides say he was troubled by the administration’s decision to hold terrorism suspects indefinitely without normal due-process rights, and records show that he once asked for a memorandum on what recourse would be available to a hypothetical foreign Vanderbilt University student implicated in a terror plot and secretly “tried at the direction of the president.”
A month after the Sept. 11 attacks, he supported an unsuccessful effort to amend the USA Patriot Act to place limits on “roving wiretaps.” Though he voted for the legislation, his trepidation echoed his stance against a Clinton administration effort to expand the F.B.I.’s wiretapping authority, when he warned of “the price we may pay in the infringement on our personal freedoms.”
But there is a lot to like about Fred Thompson. He understood the reason we needed to go to war with Iraq, he has strong conservative values, and he appears to be a man who, like Bush, will not sway with the wind to get votes and higher poll numbers.
While Peter Mulhern believes Fred will be our next President my decision on who to support has not been made as of yet, but Fred is quite high on that list nowadays.
His fundraising this quarter shows the man will have some legs. He took in 8 million this quarter with 60% of that amount coming in after his September announcement. Apparently his campaign is saying that post announcement donation levels have been approx. 200 grand a day.
Not bad huh?