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Fred Thompson calls it quits
Posted by: Bryan Pick on Tuesday, January 22, 2008

As scooped earlier in the day, he's officially out. As South Carolina began to look doubtful, speculation really started brewing, including questions of whether he would seek the vice presidency or who he would endorse (his buddy McCain? Romney?). Jim Geraghty had just this morning reported a "source close to Thompson" saying that Fred will neither seek the VP spot nor endorse another candidate.
At one point, I asked this source if the attitude was, 'if you can't be Reagan, be Goldwater,' and the source responded, "exactly."
I'll probably have more to say later, but for now, a few short postmortem comments:

I've seen a good number of Fred supporters claim that they won't vote for anybody but Fred (something I haven't seen from supporters of any other candidate except Ron Paul), and at least as many other commenters dismissing those claims out of hand. "Come November, you'll vote for the Republican on the ticket. You know you will." Don't be so sure.

Sure, many of them will—most will probably settle for Romney*, so look for his numbers to bump up a bit—but some simply won't do it. It's not as if the people supporting Fred, at this stage of his campaign, were doing so because he was the flavor of the week; he had their attention because he, far more than any other candidate, represented the greatest overlap of the old fusionist coalition (or the so-called "three-legged stool" of hawks, limited-government types and social cons). He was selling the "consistent conservative" brand and not much else.

On the bright side, the drumbeat of insipid "fire in the belly" comments should finally peter out.

* Deacon at PowerLine thinks Fred's supporters will split "fairly evenly" between McCain, Romney, and (in the South) Huckabee. I don't understand the McCain attraction myself, but Huckabee did take numbers out of Fred's hide in SC on his rise and vice versa on his slide. My impression, though, is that Huckabee's slide is happening for more fundamental reasons and will continue.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Well’s that’s just FREAK’N great, now who do I support....Ron Paul? I realize that in this statist-collectivist H$(( we call America there isn’t really any difference between the candidates, of EITHER Party..... as the Anarchists say, no matter who wins the election, the government is always in power! Still which collectivist should I cast my ballot for?
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The least offensive one?
Written By: looker
URL: http://
As a Fred! supporter, I will hold my nose and vote for Romney or Gulianni. I will not vote for McCain or Huckabee. In fact, I would vote against Huckabee in favor of Hillary, because I think she would be a slightly less incompetent CinC.
Written By: Phelps
I mean, I’m having to seriously look at people I seriously don’t like.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Just out of curiosity, where is the hostility against McCain coming from? McCain Feingold? Keating Five? Where? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t prefer McCain either, but if you look at his voting record in Congress you’re basically looking at the voting record of an establishment conservative, plus he’s rock freakin’ solid on the WOT. Yet all these conservatives on the internet are bellowing that they could never vote for him, he’s a RINO, etc., as if he were Lincoln Chaffee or something.

Although I’m unenthusiastic about McCain, if he were to be elected I could sleep at night knowing a grown-up was in charge, therefore I don’t really understand the vehement opposition of many conservatives.

Written By: peter jackson
I mean, I’m having to seriously look at people I seriously don’t like.
I’ll second this. I don’t know if I can even hold my nose and vote for either side the way this is going.
Written By: Bill W.
URL: http://

1. McCain/Feingold
2. McCain/Kennedy (the Amnesty/Open Borders act of 2007)
3. McCain’s Gang of 14 and the Dirty Deal with the Dems
4. McCain’s War on Gitmo
5. McCain and his Civil Rights for Islamofascist Terrorists crusade
6. McCain: Don’t Get Between Him and a TV Camera or a Reporter
7. McCain: The favorite candidate of the left and the MSM (does that tell you anything?
8. McCain: Clean government over constitutional government? He prefers clean government. To hell with the constitution.
9. McCain: Willing to ban "cheap guns" (Saturday night specials - make sure poor folks can’t afford to effectively defend themselves).
10. McCain - voted against Bush tax cuts -says they "favored the rich" (he’s a class warrior...)

Shall I go on?
Written By: Bill Quick
Bill’s got it in 1(0).

I can’t vote for any of the dems. They are so socialist - the lot of them - I might as well vote for Lenin.

As for the repubs, it’s a matter of "ugh" (Romney), "eww" (rudy), "hell-f*cking no" (McCain), or "That nut-ball? I’d rather f*cking die" (Paul).

I’m seriously considering that write-in of Bauer/MacLean...
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Hillary or McCain....

Obama or McCain....
also, wow (but I prefer this match up over the one above)

Romney worries me, chiefly because he managed to get elected in Massachusetts. That automagically sets my alarm bell off.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Thanks Bill. Several of those I’m unfamiliar with (cheap guns, tax cuts) and a couple are non-issues for me (I consider the issue of what to do with illegal combatants an open debate which needs to be settled), but the dings you chose to rank at the top of your list are informative. I think I get it.

Written By: peter jackson
McCain is a quirky, prickly guy who opposed Bush’s tax cuts, isn’t particularly conservative — more a CINO than a RINO — who will be an absolutely terrible president. Not even McCain’s friends like him. He’s easily conned by liberals and has a genetic predisposition to want to please the New York Times. He thinks that compromise with the Left is possible, and it is. Just give them what they want and they will do you the service of pissing on you if you are on fire.

You won’t really be able to sleep at night with McCain as president, but for reasons different than why you wouldn’t sleep at night if it’s Hillary. You won’t sleep at night with McCain because you’ll be wondering what sort of weird move he’ll be making the next day. You won’t sleep at night with Hillary because you’ll be wondering what sort of deliberate move she’ll be making in the middle of the night.

Fred Thompson had a glimmer, just a glimmer, of the sort of rational thoughtful principled conservative who would make a good president. McCain doesn’t offer that sort of complement of attributes.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is riding in the gilded carriage that culminates the long march through the institutions that began in 1968. If it looks like she’s going to win, be prepared for a fight that will never be less than nasty. She and her husband will also be looking for revenge for the hell they caught during their first elevation. She’ll certainly do no less than attempt to silence her critics, but most of those who have something to lose, like a big job in the big media, will be easy.

Those of us who remember the day they unleashed their thugs on the most active political newsgroups on Usenet would no doubt counsel bloggers thusly: Watch out and watch your backs.
Written By: Martin McPhillips
I’d absolutely hate to see McCain or Huckabee as President, but I’d hate to see Clinton or Obama or Edwards even more.

The GOP electorate has it’s collective (ain’t that the truth) head up it’s *ss. The only thing worse than the GOP is any party to the left. Fred should have started running a lot sooner. People needed more time to get to know him. Big mistake.

Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
My impression, though, is that Huckabee’s slide is happening for more fundamental reasons and will continue.

Pun intended?
Written By: Kathy
I made the decision not to vote in the primary after this; all the candidates (save for the psycho Ron Paul) are equally bad (Paul is worse). However, I will vote for the candidate who gets the nomination in the general election; any of them (again, except Paul) will be better than Obama or *shiver* Clinton.
Written By: CR UVa
You won’t really be able to sleep at night with McCain as president, but for reasons different than why you wouldn’t sleep at night if it’s Hillary. You won’t sleep at night with McCain because you’ll be wondering what sort of weird move he’ll be making the next day. You won’t sleep at night with Hillary because you’ll be wondering what sort of deliberate move she’ll be making in the middle of the night.
That one’s going in my scrapbook, Martin =8^]

I’ve read all the Reason stuff about McCain and I understand the libertarian arguments against him regarding his proclivity to ditch governing principles in pursuit of political fads (campaign finance, "good" government, anti-tobacco, etc.) and that personally he’s an a**hole, but most of that’s outside of the mainstream conservative narrative.

Go Rudy. I guess.

Written By: peter jackson
I’m at a loss who to support either, although at the moment I’m leaning toward Romney. I am really, really, REALLY not a fan of RomneyCare. On the other hand, I find McCain’s campaign finance "reform" infringements on freedom of speech chilling. And Romney did make a big impression here in Utah when he ran the Olympics. He surprised me then with the quality of his leadership, and he may surprise me now.
Written By: Wacky Hermit
Kathy - Unintended, actually. Nice catch.
CR UVa - I had intended to change my party registration from Unaffiliated to Republican, as today is the deadline for Californians to change registration and the CA Republican Party has a closed primary (though the Democrats don’t, interestingly). But now... I find myself dragging my feet.
Written By: Bryan Pick
I guess I’ll be "throwing my vote away" again. I may check the "L" box again, but I think a better, if not louder, message will be to cast a write-in for Fred.

He was the only candidate who could have energized both the social and fiscal conservatives. Whichever of the remaining candidates win, they will lose the enthusiasm of one branch or the other, which translates into a significant percentage of Republican voters not bothering... to be voters, that is.

Short of another major "Foreign Relations" disaster that forcefully reminds people that the Democrats are not the "kick ass" party, resign yourself to a Democrat in the White House.

Looking on the bright side, it will allow me to unleash the inner snarkmeister that I’ve kept in check for the last 8 years.
Written By: bud
URL: http://
bud writes:
Looking on the bright side [of a Democratic presidential victory in 2008], it will allow me to unleash the inner snarkmeister that I’ve kept in check for the last 8 years.
Bud, this time around it ain’t gonna be anything that easy.

They’ll be looking to finish it off.
Written By: Martin McPhillips
Gaia, this is disheartening. I don’t like any of the remaining Republican candidates and I’m afraid we are in for another of the Bush-Clinton flip-flops we’ve had for the past 20 years....argh...a pox on both houses! I guess I’ll be writing in Fred’s name on the ballot, that way at least I can live with myself in the morning.
Written By: Bob
URL: http://

I’d absolutely hate to see McCain or Huckabee as President, but I’d hate to see Clinton or Obama or Edwards even more.
I can’t agree. It would be pure hell for 2-4 years, but it would be the right kind of shock therapy to move the GOP back toward the right track.
Written By: Random Numbers
it would be the right kind of shock therapy to move the GOP back toward the right track.
Gads, I guess this is what I’m counting on, but I didn’t want to say it out loud. It’s the same feeling when I push my three big blinds all in with a weak jack and hope no one calls. Out... of... options...
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
I can’t agree. It would be pure hell for 2-4 years, but it would be the right kind of shock therapy to move the GOP back toward the right track. think so? Given the current GOP, they’re just as likely to draw the wrong lesson
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I’m a Thompson supporter and I’d vote for any Republican candidate over the Democratic candidates. McCain or Guiliani are both center-right, same as Bush. One thing to point out: Bush has been a lousy president but his failings as a president have little to do with his ideology.

Huckabee is more populist than centrist, but even he is marginally better than the Democrats. If Huckabee gets the nomination, we’ll lose the Presidency because he’s not electable. I think either Romney or McCain could win, and they’re both good candidates so there’s no reason to drop out.

The problem with the Democratic candidates is the same problem they’ve had for many years: the liberal echo chamber that never learns from its mistakes and simply prescribes more socialism and appeasement to fix the problems caused by socialism and appeasement. They will *all* follow this formula which is why we can’t drop out of *any* race.
Written By: Ben
Great, just great. Now I have two choices: register a protest by voting for Ron Paul or writing in Fred Thompson, or hold my nose and figure out who’s the least awful among the remaining candidates.

Good luck on your future endeavors, Jon.
Written By: InebriatedArsonist
URL: http://
As a Mitt supporter, I have to admit that it is good to see the competition drop. I would have rather seen Huck drop however. Had Fred been more engaging, or had his supporters been more giving $$$, he would probably still be in the race. Alas, my second choice had to give up.

So now the FredHeads (conservatives and neolibs) are atwitter, trying to figure out just who fall in with. You (and I) detest Huckabee - a pro-life liberal doesn’t cut it for a GOP candidate. You (and I) detest McCain - do we really want our own De Gaulle? And you detest Romney - you really hate his hair.

Someone wise once said we get the candidate we deserve.
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Bill Quick pretty much summed up all of the reasons not to like McCain except that he left out McCain’s recent statement that he is ready to impose carbon taxes because he buys in to the AGW fantasy. I can’t believe it has come to this, but if McCain is the Repub. nominee, I will vote for Hillary. She won’t be any worse on the issues and she might cause the American public to vote the Repubs. back into power in Congress. If we have McCain and a Democrat congress, we are screwed; we will get higher income taxes, regulations and carbon taxes will be implemented, amnesty will be granted to illegals, he will pander on universal health care, and I don’t trust him on judges. Over the last 8-10 years he has done almost everything the New York Times wanted him to do and I don’t see any reason to believe he will change his ways now.
Written By: jt007
URL: http://
If you get the Clintons for four years, you’ll get them for eight.

They won’t be playing any centrist "New Democrat" tune this time around, and with Hillary in charge will get right down to business.

This time, going in, they’re already fabulously wealthy, so they’ll have less capacity than before to imagine what their socialist impulses will do to this country.

McCain would not be that bad, though no one will be particularly happy with his approach.

Also, if it’s him against Hillary, when they start up with him, he’s going to be having flashbacks to his POW days. I think it’s possible that a lot of people will rally to him. We’ll see.
Written By: Martin McPhillips
Martin, you once explained to me why you would refuse to vote for Guiliani. (If you’re to have a president that embraces the core beliefs of one’s idealogical opponent, best to have him/her from the other party - easier to openly confront) Many feel similarly about McCain.
Written By: bains
URL: http://
I’m surprised nobody mentioned McCain’s threatening baseball over steroids and IIRC he tried to kill MMA fighting because of support he received from boxing interests. There are simply too many big government problems coming from McCain.
Written By: H man
URL: http://
Oh, I know how bad McCain is, and he will make a terrible president. And I long maintained that I would never vote for him. But as the Clinton plague approaches, I’m getting ready to compromise.

As bad as he is, and as likely as he is to produce his own train wreck, at least They will not regain power.

As for Rudy, he is not a Republican, country club or otherwise, and never had any business seeking the nomination.

If there’s a line that divides the two, that’s it. I take little comfort in the idea of McCain being president other than him as the Not Clintons.
Written By: Martin McPhillips
I would suggest if you don’t like either the Republican or Democrat Presidential contender, you don’t vote for either. Lest they think they have some mandate, which they will likely do anyway. But no sense adding fuel to that particular fire.
Written By: Keith_Indy
I’m going to recommend to everyone Jonah Goldberg’s new book "Liberal Fascism," which throws klieg lights onto progressive American politics over the last century, both as to its intellectual pedigree and its methods of action in power. The book is especially effective at illuminating the dusky history of the progressive movement from 1900 through WWI, and by the end of the book you see how the lineage produces a Hillary Clinton (much more so than a Bill Clinton).

For those who have amused themselves with the bewildering idiocies of the local academic Mosquito, there are many captures of his precise phenomenon in the book as well, indicating the origin of many of his stock phrases.

The title "Liberal Fascism" is taken from the socialist hero H.G. Wells, who said put the concept forward as the desired course of progressive politics.
Written By: Martin McPhillips
For me McCain’s lack of understanding as to illegal immigration is the one point that makes it simple impossible for them to back him. A country that doesn’t control its borders soon looses sovereignty and we are already so very close to that.

McCain Now says that he ‘gets it’ that border security comes first yet even though there are millions of dollars appropriated for border fencing not one foot of fence has been built!

Has the Senator made any effort to find out why? Has he called for the Senate to investigate why? NO, that’s because he doesn’t want the fence! What he wants is the Hispanic vote! We have border towns with people living in fear nightly fire fights with machineguns, rockets and bazookas being used against Border Guards and Law Enforcement agents and nothing being done!

True Mitt is an unknown and he hasn’t a great record on immigration either, but he is basically an unknown and has at least promised to do something. McCain can do something and yet he hasn’t!

If McCain would make some serious move to actually do something about the border I could then at least consider him, but he won’t. He will just continue to call those of us who express concern about illegal immiration a buch of bigoted zenopobes or much fouler names like he did when ’Shamasty’ failed.
Written By: Jack
URL: http://
I think that I may be forced to vote for Hillary Clinton this time, and that’s a choice that I wouldn’t visit on anybody.

There’s a reason for this. McCain represents what we should be calling the Economic Republicans. They’re socially liberal but economically conservative— or reduced to it’s most basic formulation, they’re all for a police state as long as they don’t have to pay a tax increase in order to get it. If McCain gets elected, the Republican party will split, and the Economic Republicans will be out screwing over the Cultural Conservatives, critical niche constituencies like gun owners, ect, all on the assumption that they can because we have nowhere else to go. There was a letter from Edwin Feulner to George H.W. Bush to that effect when Bill Bennett resurrected the Republican jihad against gun ownership, (No, he didn’t start it, Richard Nixon and Elliot Richardson, both gun haters did, by hiring Rex Davis as the Director of BATFE. Davis only hired people who happened to agree with him, which is how BATFE has had an institutional prejudice against gun ownership rather than a neutral law enforcement orientation.) which essentially stated that Bush the Elder could safely proceed, because we had nowhere else to go. The end result of that was that Bush became a one term President, and the feckless and doublecrossing Bob Dole lost four years later. The reality of that is still far below the mental event horizon of the idiots who manage the current slate of candidates.

So, this time around if we vote Republican, what we’re gonna get is a party having it’s Nixon to China moment while in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Second Amendment and for that matter the rest of the Bill of Rights gets its tenuous existance terminated.

On the other hand, if we take a risk and "Jump the Shark" and vote for Clinton, the Economic Republicans interests will be under such heavy threat that the Conservative Coalition has to hang together even if we all cordially hate each others guts, because it’s necessary in order to gridlock Mrs. Clinton. It’ll be a replay of the 90’s, but there are worse things than that, like losing everything in a bipartsan orgy of attacks on the things that the Fascists on the one side and the Socialists on the other, both agree that they hate more than anything else— us.

And for my part, I think that four years of gridlock would be salutory given the actual political position of the two major parties. They’re both Communitarian, which is what Amatai Etzioni calls good old fashioned Fascism, or as Mussolini preferred, Corporatism.

Both companies are essentially fascist. The difference is that the Economic Republicans want this as a permanent state of affairs while the Democrats want it as a transition to Socialism. They differ on whom they want the spoils to go to, but they don’t disagree on anything that actually counts.

As far as the Republicans go, for the last 20 years the only real debate there has been whether we’re going to go with the Japanese model of Fascism or the European model. The only difference between the two, is that in the Japanese model, government acts as an agent for an interlocking collection of cartels, while in the European variant, government remains primus inter pares.

The bottom line here is that four years of gridlock is far better than four years of really bad legislation, and really abysmal appointees. People should remember that really bad ATF Directors like Rex Davis or Stephen Higgins, (The point man in Bush the Elder’s jihad against gun owners) were Republican appointees and I for one am glad that Bush isn’t likely to get his appointment of Alberto Gonzalez final insult to the Constitution, Michael Sullivan, confirmed by Congress.

My advice is to quit worrying about ideological litmus tests and start voting in defense of what little we’ve left in the way of liberty, by doing anything that we can to cripple the Executive and Legislative branches for the next four years.

And if anybody’s got a more realistic plan that isn’t composed of mindless boosterism, I’d love to see it.

Written By: Michael Shirley
URL: http://
The ONLY good thing about McCain is that HE might convince Thompson to be his running mate. And, you know, McCain IS 72 years old.......
Written By: Cargosquid

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