Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Clincher

With the official announcement that Hard Starboard is endorsing Fred Thompson for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani may just as well close up shop, go home, and start the television adaptation of Grumpy Old Men. Or maybe Death of Two Salesmen.

I won't presume to speak for Jenber, but yesterday afternoon's GOP debate in Michigan finally pushed me off the schnied. It wasn't that Fred more than held his own, because I fully expected him to make a strong showing. It was, rather, the two big-time stumbles of the other candidate that I was weighing, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Making a point of going after the perceived national frontrunner as though FDT didn't exist was an arrogant blunder I would not have expected of a man as smart as the Mittster is reputed to be. Ditto the implicit assumption, which came clearly across in the debate, that Thompson could be ignored because he would "fall on his face" or "frown perpetually" or be "just flat". And then there was the economic issue attack on Giuliani itself, from which Romney retreated pretty much from the opening querey. Indeed, if one didn't know better, one could almost believe that "Plasticman" was serving as Fred's stalking horse, going after Rudy while Fred himself stayed above the fray.

But strike three as far as I am concerned was this now-infamous exchange:
Aiming at Mitt Romney, ["Christopher"] Matthews asked if the former governor would take military action against Iran and added a new wrinkle: do you need congressional authorization to do it?

Romney, flummoxed, reverted to corporate type and said that he’d convene a meeting:

[Y]ou sit down with your attorneys and they tell you what you have to do. Making it worse, when Matthews repeated the question - Do you have to get Congress’ approval? - Romney said he’d let the lawyers sort it out. Fanning a third time on the same fastball, Romney retreated into the, “We’ll do everything possible to avoid that” crisis stuff. It was bad, and was made much worse when the other candidates sounded off on the same question.
"Attorneys" in the current political environment will find every reason in the world not to engage the mullahs. Ditto Foggy Bottom and the Donk rebels in the intel bureaucracy. A POTUS in the post-9/11 age cannot let others tell him what to do. We're not electing someone to be Punter-in-Chief; sheesh, if we want weakness, indecision, and vaccillation, we might as well just concede the whole blasted thing to Mrs. Clinton now and be done with it.

Giuliani stuck Romney with a label that is going to dog him from now on: "The lawyer's test for national security." Sounds an awful lot like John Kerry's "global test," doesn't it? Now that may not be entirely fair, but they don't call politics "war by other means" for nothing. And, really, this seems to have been a glimpse into Romney's core thought processes, a "real" moment when the real Mitt emerged, and it's not the person I want at the helm in the inevitable confrontation with the mullahgarchy.

I've thought for a long time that Romney would get fed through a PR woodchipper by the Clinton Machine in any case. He's just too nice (and no, that's not a cryptic swipe at his Mormonism); he's like Rick Lazio (Hillary's freshly scrubbed 2000 GOP senate palooka) writ large. Mrs. Clinton's dobermans would dismember Mitt before next Memorial Day, and we'd be left to drag that coifed roadkill finish line-ward for the next six months like a parade pooper scooper. And, by the by, don't think she wouldn't, and couldn't, use this gaffe against him; audacity is the Clinton trademark, and you know the Enemy Media will let her get away with as much hypocrisy and dishonesty as she wants.

Ready Freddie, on the other hand, has all the gravitas and acumen that Romney lacks, without the personal baggage and base-alienating social views that are Rudy's disqualifying albatrosses. He's no Reagan - nobody is, or ever will be (hell, as much as his legend has been built up, even Reagan would be no "Reagan" these days) - but he has stage presence, he's articulate, he's avuncular (you might say he's Dick Cheney without the Sith reputation). Perhaps best of all, Thompson doesn't appear to want the nation's highest office too much, as the witch of Chapaqua garishly does. And his decision to enter the race when and how he chose - which earned him a great deal of criticism and derision, including from yours truly - shows that he's no weather vane, is his own man, is "comfortable in his own skin," and possesses the mettle to handle the presidency in the post-9/11, post-Bush era.

In short, I would trust Giuliani in a national security crisis, but not to appoint constitutionalists to the federal bench and SCOTUS; with Romney, like Forrest Gump's box 'o chocolates, we couldn't be sure exactly WHAT we would get; but with Fred Thompson, we would be getting a reliable, across-the-board conservative stalwart with the communicative ability to make the case for the tough choices we, the people, are going to have to make in the next measure of years.

Fred Thompson can weather the storm and lead us through to the other side. And after that defeat of the Hilldebeast, he can lead America into what can still be an optimistic future.

I don't call him "Ready Freddie" for nothing.