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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fred Dalton Thompson is not a savior

The traditional media is currently buzzing with speculation that Fred Dalton Thompson is preparing to form a presidential exploratory committee to set the stage for a bid for the Republican nomination.

A number of Republicans are praying for a Thompson candidacy, but if they think the Law and Order star is their savior, they're mistaken.

As Greg Sargent of Talking Points Memo notes:
Thompson appears to believe that the huge Democratic victory over the GOP in the 2006 midterm elections had nothing to do with Iraq.

Check out this tidbit buried in the interview he gave today to USA Today confirming his plans to run for President:
On Iraq, Thompson voted to authorize the invasion in 2002 and now opposes setting a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops. Still, his fortunes aren't as inextricably tied to the war as those of McCain, one of the war's leading defenders.

In any case, Thompson argues that Republicans lost control of the House and Senate in November not because of the war but because of out-of-control spending and unrestrained partisanship. What's surprising is that Democrats didn't gain more ground, he says.

"It's been kind of a pox on both your houses," he says.
I dunno, I kind of remember the history a bit differently here. You?

Of course, Dems can only hope that Thompson really thinks this and continues to think it should he become the nominee, because not only were the 2006 elections all about the Iraq War, the 2008 Presidential election will be all about Iraq, too.
What's more, not only will Iraq be a huge issue this cycle, but Republican corruption isn't going away, either. The Bush administration remains plagued by scandal and GOP members of Congress, like Rick Renzi and John Doolittle, are under investigation. The Republicans will be haunted by Abramoff's ghost throughout the next eighteen months and beyond.

But even if you take Dalton's theory at face value, it's not good news for the GOP. If "unrestrained spending" is the reason that voters turned the Republicans out last year, they're unlikely to suddenly trust Republicans on fiscal matters in 2008. All Republicans, from George W. Bush to Dave Reichert, say they believe in balanced budgets, lower taxes, less spending, yadda, yadda, yadda. But people just aren't buying that rhetoric any more. Too many years of witnessing the opposite.

Voters can't trust Republicans because they don't practice what they preach. Why should Fred Dalton Thompson be any different? Why is he special? Because he has been on TV? Because he was in The Hunt for Red October?

Nobody who embraces George W. Bush's Iraq disaster will be able to deliver on a promise of reining in spending. Iraq has cost America hundreds of billions of dollars - an enormous sum of money. Since its founding, NPI has maintained a copy of the "Cost of War" counter on its site, and we've watched it get bigger, and bigger, and bigger as the weeks and months go by.

Of course, our treasury would be in better shape financially even with the cost of the Iraq occupation - if Bush and the formerly empowered congressional Republicans hadn't approved massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans at the same time they were supporting a preemptive invasion of Iraq.

The budgeting frame that the right wing uses is entirely phony. Republicans constantly scream that all Democrats want to do is raise taxes (you hear it over and over again) simply because Democrats are smart enough to understand and recognize the value provided by public services.

Meanwhile, Republicans have doled out huge tax breaks we can't afford (to wealthy Americans who don't need them) and mired the federal government in a sea of debt (effectively putting a tax on our children).

It's the equivalent of immature adolescents throwing an out of control party and leaving a total mess behind for the responsible adults to clean up.

Think about the appalling waste of the right wing agenda. We should be responsibly investing in infrastructure and public services here at home, not in Iraq.

The money we're sending over there isn't even being spent wisely. It quickly disappears into the giant pockets of companies like Halliburton which are eager to feed at the trough of the Bush administration. The Inspector General found in 2005 that nearly $9 billion of money spent on reconstruction is unaccounted for because of inefficiencies and bad management!

We can't even take care of our troops. Remember "You go to war with the Army you have"? Our volunteer force is overextended. Our National Guard units are short of equipment because it has been siphoned for use in Iraq. Our returning veterans can't and don't get the health care and benefits they deserve. Republicans seem to privately view our men and women in uniform as tools for accomplishing their political goals, not as our nation's courageous defenders.

The Republican elite who believe a Thompson candidacy will be their salvation are deluded. George W. Bush is a failure because the right wing agenda is a failure. The GOP continues to stubbornly cling to a worldview that the best in American values has defeated over and over again in the course of our history.

While it is difficult to predict what will happen in 2008, Republicans will likely pay a significant price for their utter inability to govern. Thompson may seem attractive as a candidate, but he cannot save an ideology from itself.

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