April 2, 2007


Fred Thompson and Supreme Court nominations (Bruce Walker, April 2, 2007, Enter Stage Right)

First, Fred Thompson is genuinely liked by his former colleagues in the United States Senate. Even the most hostile Bush-haters in the Senate simply could not get personal and angry with Thompson. No door was shut to him. No nasty sound bites from Leftist senators were bounced off Fred Thompson's head during the confirmation process. It is not just that Thompson is somewhat like Reagan in being a "Teflon" politician, but also that Thompson was a "Teflon" politician who was their colleague in the most exclusive club in global politics, the United States Senate. This makes Thompson twice charmed - as a man immune to insinuations of indifference and caprice (like Reagan) and as a man who is seriously liked and admired by Senate colleagues (as his mentor, Howard Baker.)

Second, Fred Thompson is a very good lawyer who has worked on noble causes as a public servant. President Bush is not a lawyer (anymore than his father, President George H. Bush, was a lawyer.) This is often overlooked but critically important: Fred Thompson understands the arcane traditions of the legal profession and would observe them in nominating the man or woman with strong conservative values. He also understands, as an attorney who has dealt with the intricacies of constitutional issues in a role as pivotal as Republican counsel during the Watergate hearings, precisely what the constitutional issues facing Supreme Court nominees would be.

Third, Fred Thompson serves as a very principled prosecutor on the popular Law & Order television program. Not only is Thompson, in fact, a lawyer, but the public perceives him as a very ethical and professional lawyer. He would be able to do more than just let his nominees defend themselves, but President Thompson (has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?) would be able to defend himself, with courtesy and competence, his own nominations.

Fourth, Fred Thompson is an amazingly persuasive individual. Unlike the last two Presidents Bush, Thompson could speak directly to the American people, on Sunday morning talk shows, on radio, on Fox News, on any medium, and explain with perfect pitch, tone and reason why his nominee is good for America and good for the Constitution.

It is precisely because Fred Thompson is more reliably conservative that he will have less success than a president McCain or Giuliani in putting conservative justices on the bench. Success in the Senate requires seats for your party, not your own personal qualities. Fred Thompson would be the best president of the three butb the worst nominee, because it will be a more partisan election. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani will make bad presidents but have enough appeal to leftward that they can run up landslide victories and carry in candidates further down the ticket with them. This is quite similar to 2000 when John McCain was the superior political candidate but George W. Bush the one willing and able to effect revolutionary reform. It was certainly worth wiunning such a nailbiter, instead of in a walk, in order to get the FBI, tax cuts, outsourcing of civil service work, HSAs, abortion and stem cell limits, Roberts & Alito, the Axis of Good, etc., etc., etc....

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 2, 2007 8:18 AM

I respectfully disagree with your analysis.

Barring unknown "gotcha" issues, Thompson is the only candidate that stands a chance of getting/keeping a more conservative Senate.

Rs are slated to lose seats as they have much more to defend, and a Thompson candidacy holds out much more hope of high conservative/Republican turnout than either Rudy or McCain.

Posted by: Bruno at April 2, 2007 9:39 AM

Any skeleton in his closet?

Posted by: ic at April 2, 2007 11:47 AM

I agree with your analysis, except (1) although it may be probable, I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that McCain and Giuliani being more leftist will translate to more votes; I think you underestimate the power of conservative enthusiasm to sway moderates; and (2) the conclusion that it's worth supporting the leftist McCain over the conservative Thompson. Just as it was worth it to nominate Bush over McCain in 2000, it's worth it again in 2008.

Posted by: pj at April 2, 2007 11:59 AM

He was/is well liked by one and all because he never stood for anything or made any waves.

Posted by: erp at April 2, 2007 1:38 PM


Exactly. Thompson makes it less likely you'll get the justices the author wants but he'll be a better president so he's worth supporting as W was. Hillary wouldn't be enough different than Rudy for it to matter much if the GOP loses such a match-up.

Posted by: oj at April 2, 2007 3:22 PM

Conservative turnout doesn't matter to the congressional, just folks checking the R at the top of the ticket.

Posted by: oj at April 2, 2007 3:28 PM