The latest Newsweek edition arrived at the orthodontist’s office just before I arrived. The lady at the front desk exclaimed, “That just got here! If you need to brush up, then here you go!”.
Good timing. While we waited for my oldest to get braces added to her pallet expander I was indeed able to brush up on the disaster that is the Middle East in the Bush era and how the next president will inherent quite the mess, namely the Gaza Effect. It wasn’t all bad. There was a nice bit about how Pelosi intends on transforming the House into a green body by making it carbon neutral in 19 months and cutting energy consumption in half within 10 years.
The most interesting article was about Fred Thompson, the current favorite to be the wingnut savior in an election that is almost sure to see return control over to more mature, adult supervision. It seems Thompson never really thought after his Senate years and successful Hollywood career that he’d be back in politics – especially not back in the role of Darth Conservative with all the pressure of the entire Galactic Conservative Empire on his shoulders. It becomes quite clear when you read some of the 8 years of papers and correspondence he left in a public archive at the University of Tennessee.
On a 1994 Eagle Forum survey, Thompson said he opposed criminalizing abortion. Two years later, on a Christian Coalition questionnaire, he checked “opposed” to a proposed constitutional amendment protecting the sanctity of human life. He struggled with the question of when life begins. “I do believe that the decision to have an early term abortion is a moral issue and should not be a legal one subject to the dictates of the government,” he wrote in a campaign policy statement filed in the archives.
Stapled to the paper was a January 1994 interview that Thompson gave to the Conservative Spectator, a Tennessee newspaper. Thompson said he was “certainly pro-life.” But he told the paper, “I’m not willing to support laws that prohibit early term abortions … It comes down to whether life begins at conception. I don’t know in my own mind if that is the case so I don’t feel the law ought to impose that standard on other people.” The file also includes a copy of answers provided in 1994 to another newspaper. “The ultimate decision on abortion should be left with the woman and not the government,” he answered.
Someone get James Dobson and Rod Parsley on the phone. [squelch noise] I think we’re going to have a problem here.
Conservatives show the Hollywood-like love affair with Thompson in their ability to let things slide, especially things they rip John McCain for. Take campaign finance laws:
Thompson has also avoided the conservative backlash that John McCain, his friend and close Senate ally, is now suffering. The Arizona senator hasn’t been able to shake a bad reputation with many Republicans for his crusade to limit campaign fund-raising, an effort they despised as government interference. But so far, they have been willing to overlook that Thompson was a strong supporter of McCain’s bill. Thompson’s files show that he was closely involved in helping to write the law, and pushed colleagues to sign on. When the bill passed in 2001, its Democratic sponsor, Russ Feingold, sent Thompson a thank-you note. “You were essential to our success,” he wrote.
So the question becomes: Is Fred Thompson really the Great White Conservative Hope? Or does he just play one on TV?