Mea Culpa means it's my fault.
After a week of turning this over in my mind I have decided that the best thing I can say about Fred Thompson backing out of the GOP presidential primary race after so many people, myself included, wanted to see him continue, is that it is my fault for supporting his candidacy.
It is NOT my fault that the polls ahead of the South Carolina primary and the Iowa caucuses were inaccurate, nor that Thompson appeared to be having some relationship problems with Fox News, which consistently counted him out of the race when others were hoping he would stay in. I liked having Thompson in the race, every bit as much as I like having Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney in the race.
They are bringing fresh perspectives, new ideas, new faces and a real debate to the process this season. I hadn't decided and still haven't on who will get my vote. That will be decided based on who is left in the race. But I really wanted Thompson to stay in the race, and I will take personal responsibility for everything I wrote in support of that position.
A lot of people with a much higher profile than mine were on the Thompson bandwagon too, and they are understandably disappointed that he quit. People went out of their way to help Thompson's campaign with issues, PR, and even access to potential donors, lots of potential donors.
All of these efforts went nowhere, and there is a lot of discussion behind the scenes as to whether Thompson even knew that people were trying to help him. Or, that he did know, but wasn't serious about the race.
It seems at this juncture that all the questions are irrelevant, except that once again, a big chunk of the electorate is turned off to the process.
Some are saying that Thompson now is on the short list for John McCain's candidacy as a potential vice presidential nominee. I'm not sure I would go down that road, however.
One informal poll, on conservative talk radio hostess Melanie Morgan's website www.MelanieMorgan.com addresses exactly that question - would you vote for John McCain if Fred Thompson was his running mate? As of this morning, the response has been an overwhelming "No!"
Melanie is one of those high-profile, nationally known commentators who went out on a limb for Thompson. She has discussed Thompson pulling out, so to speak, on her morning radio show on KSFO in San Francisco. Like many others, Melanie says she hasn't come to a conclusion on whether his campaign was beset by incompetence or sabotage.
I don't suppose it matters much any longer. What's done is done.
Yet, it is interesting how people will see the same situation but describe it differently. I saw Thompson's third place, out-of-nowhere finish in Iowa as a sign that if he got serious about the campaign he would be a front-runner.
When I saw veterans and others travelling great distances to help him out in South Carolina, and his campaign continually meeting its fund-raising goals, I figured they were sure signs that he could do well on Super Tuesday, February 5, when Republicans across the country will be voting in primaries that are open to only Republicans.
His third place finish in South Carolina should have been a good sign of things to come. Thompson saw it as a defeat.
True warriors don't quit when they are still breathing and have the means to continue the fight. The battles that have been won by sheer determination when all seemed hopeless are legendary.
Fred Thompson's campaign will not go down in history as one of them. That isn't my fault, but I am sorry about it.
ON TO FLORIDA
On the current events scene, John McCain and Mitt Romney are battling for the lead in Florida's GOP primary tomorrow. Florida is another one of those states that has been labelled a "Big Deal" by the media, because the Florida primary is the only game in town tomorrow.
In truth, like the other primaries before, Florida doesn't carry as much weight as it should because it went out of the national party approved rotation and now will bring only half its usual complement of delegates to the national convention.
Two months ago Rudy Giuliani, (remember him?) was the media-anointed sure-fire winner of Florida's vote, since he was the only guy in the race then. Now he is way back.
McCain was last week's media-anointed winner, but Romney has been working very hard in Florida, and according to my on-the-scene associates, the state-wide polls are leaning in Romney's direction by several points, regardless of what the national pollsters say.
McCain also has run into a firestorm of controversy over his stance on immigration. He backed a bill that everyone but him saw as offering amnesty to illegal aliens, then said he got the message and won't go that route any more, and now it turns out a senior adviser on his campaign is a major proponent of open borders.
McCain has picked up some big endorsements from the Florida Republican establishment, but now we have to wonder if those endorsements would have been forthcoming if Florida's governor and other GOP office holders had seen the news on the immigration front.
It is interesting to say the least that many in the Democratic race already are putting down money that the presidential race will come down to Hillary Clinton and McCain.
That apparently is a dream come true for the DC political insider establishment, as well as the Democratic party. McCain, Hillary and Bill Clinton are portrayed as good friends and the word on the Internet is that they would not pick each other apart if they were running against each other for president.
Check out this quote attributed to Bill Clinton, that I found at the Steady Habits blog: http://steadyhabits.wordpress.com/
"She (Hillary) and John McCain are very close, they always laugh that if they wound up being the nominees of their party, it would be the most civilized election in American history, and they're afraid they'd put the voters to sleep because they like and respect each other."
That would certainly nullify the issue of McCain and his conduct on the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIA affairs that I wrote about last week. Not that the issue will die, judging from the emails I have received since that column appeared, just that it wouldn't be pushed by Hillary.
Rather it would be pushed by families of POWs and MIAs and probably would turn off enough Republican voters that Hillary would be a shoo-in. You see, I don't think most Republicans are all that caught up in the question of who is the most conservative candidate.
I think Republicans are caught up in who is the most Republican candidate. Each of the contenders in the GOP race has some conservative issues on their side, and each has some that work against them.
My personal political philosophy is that I favor smaller government, limited government intrusion into private matters, a level of taxation that is necessary only to support the government we need, plus a contingency for emergencies. I am strong on national defense, and as the son of an immigrant, I believe that everyone who wants to live in the US should come here legally, and bring some skills with them. That pretty much defines me as a Republican.
I have a lot of friends who define themselves as Democrats, not because of what we see on the national scene, but because on the local level they believe government should have a larger role in our lives, with taxes adjusted to support that view. We may disagree on that, but we agree on many other things, so it is easy to stay friends and neighbors.
As far as the friendship between Billary and McCain all I can say is what I said last week about the Clintons when their backs are against the wall. Go back and watch Mrs. Clinton on the attack in the debate just before the South Carolina primary.
There you will see what John McCain will get if he runs against her.
And you can bet your life, that if it comes down to a final fight between Billary and McCain, and he asks her (them) for a civil dialogue, with the presidency of the United States, leadership of the free world, and their collective legacy on the line, she will fix her baby blues in Bill's direction, place her hand lovingly on his arm, smile adoringly at him, then turn to her opponent, and say with all sincerity, "John, my friend, my war hero opponent ... Go Screw Yourself!"
Monday, January 28, 2008