Saturday, December 01, 2007

Fred! Thompson: Maverick

A most interesting analysis of the Fred! campaign's situation by Ms. K. Strassel.

On Fox News this Sunday, Fred Thompson laid out the most creative tax proposal yet in the race for president. It should have been an important moment, the point at which GOP aspirants finally dug into a core issue and went a few rounds over marginal rates and corporate levies.

This week's tax proposal was decidedly fresh, going beyond the run-of-the-mill candidate promise to extend the Bush tax cuts, and calling for the end of the death tax and the AMT, a cut in the corporate tax rate and even a voluntary flat tax. According to a campaign source, in upcoming weeks Mr. Thompson will unveil plans to reduce federal spending by limiting nondefense growth to inflation, earmark reform, and a one-year freeze on the hiring of non-essential civilian workers and contractors.

...The Watergate attorney has made himself into this election's Don Quixote, the impractical idealist tilting at "the system."

He's proposed revitalizing America's armed forces by increasing the core defense budget, building up a million-member ground force, and instituting sweeping missile defense. He went where no other GOP candidate has yet gone with a detailed plan to shore up Social Security, by changing the benefits formula and offering voluntary "add on" accounts for younger workers. He would re-energize school vouchers. His border security blueprint certainly matches Mitt Romney's or Rudy Giuliani's ...

Well, no one in their right mind would call these worn-out or hackneyed ideas.

Thompson has thought carefully and thoroughly about the future of the country first, and his own political future second. That is to say, his priorities are in the right order.

But in a country where naked political ambition is the norm, Thompson's thoughtful, practially-viable, and sensible positions are not engaging.

A big part of the problem is the (R) establishment's stark-raving-fear of the Hildebeeste:

To the extent he is now trying to float ideas (and he could use even more), the rest of the field wants nothing of it. The GOP went into this race thinking itself the likely loser, and that fear has defined the primary. The candidates aren't vying to lead a wayward party out of malaise, or energize voters with new ideas. They're instead trying to be the answer to a question: Who can beat her?

Ms. Strassel practically begs:

His best shot now is that Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Romney go nuclear, leaving him with a ticket out of Iowa and some hope. He still ranks second behind Mr. Giuliani in national polls. But putting himself in a position to build off any lucky outcomes will involve trying to play the game he so detests. If he believes his ideas are as important for the country as he says they are, he will.

Let's hope that her plea is heeded.

3 comments:

Jb said...

Man, you'd think with all these innovative ideas Thompson would be out on the campaign trail telling voters all about them?

Anonymous said...

They Said It: Thompson Social Security Plan Applauded as ‘Courageous,’ ‘Honest,’ and ‘Substantive’

Courage & Honesty

Republican presidential contender Fred Thompson’s plan to save Social Security and protect seniors, which he introduced Friday afternoon in a Washington, D.C., hotel, differs starkly from standard election year pablum on the subject in one key way: He’s actually treating voters like adults. (ABC, 11/9)

Thompson...is seeking to show he is willing to take on tough issues if elected in November 2008, telling a news conference in Washington he was the only candidate to offer an extensive Social Security plan. (Reuters, 11/10)

“You certainly have to admire his courage for putting this out,” said Alan Viard with the American Enterprise Institute. (Tennessean, 11/10)

Supporters contend that Thompson’s willingness to take on the so-called third rail of politics will impress voters. (Bloomberg, 11/10)

Conservative economic experts applauded Thompson for offering specifics on an issue considered to be politically dangerous. (Tennessean, 11/10)

“He’s not afraid to be brutally honest with the American people about the challenges that lie ahead,” said Representative Zach Wamp, a Tennessee Republican who is working to recruit supporters for Thompson. “People can tell the difference between a strong leader telling the truth and a weak leader talking politics.” (Bloomberg, 11/10)

Substance

[Thompson is] the first candidate of either party to offer a detailed proposal to fix the nation’s retirement system. (WP, 11/10)

The Republican candidate laid out a detailed, four-page proposal (WSJ, 11/10)

Mr. Thompson’s plan...was more specific than what the Bush White House put on the table when it sought to overhaul the system. It also varied substantially from the traditional conservative approach of focusing primarily on personal investment accounts. (NYT, 11/10)

Economist Jason Furman said Thompson deserves credit for offering a detailed plan to address the projected Social Security shortfall...(Bloomberg, 11/10)

In discussing policy, Thompson was in his element. (Politico, 11/9)

He’d prefer to talk about substance. (Politico, 11/9)

Thompson’s plan draws on ideas favored by conservatives: a reduction in benefits, rather than an increase in payroll taxes; and a shift toward private accounts, rather than government-provided payments. (WP, 11/10)

Rivals

[Thompson] ventured Friday into an area few rivals have tread: advocacy of a fundamental overhaul of Social Security. (WSJ, 11/10)

Although all of the presidential candidates have spoken, when asked, about the need to fix the Social Security system, none has offered such a detailed plan nor talked so eagerly and often about the issue. (WSJ, 11/10)

Among Republicans, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney have talked in general terms ... but none has offered a specific plan. (WP, 11/10)

Mr. Thompson is the only one of the Republicans running for the White House who has made Social Security a central theme of his campaign. (NYT, 11/10)

He is the only presidential candidate so far to make Social Security an anchor of his campaign. (WSJ, 11/10)

But with less than two months before the 2008 voting begins, candidates have generally been reluctant to confront the Social Security issue. (WP, 11/10)


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saving and Protecting Social Security
A Plan to Ensure Retirement Security for All Americans
http://www.fred08.com/virtual/socialsecurity.aspx

Neo-Con Tastic said...

FDT! FDT! RWR! (oops) FDT!