Alexander's Column

Patriot Candidate Profile: Fred Thompson

By Mark Alexander · Sep. 7, 2007

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” –James Madison

“My friends, I come to you today to tell you that I intend to run for President.” With that, Fred Dalton Thompson announced his candidacy for President this week – adding his name to a lengthy list of Republican contenders.

Traditionally, Presidential candidates have announced their intentions after Labor Day, but that tradition has given way to “campaignus infinitum ad nauseam.” Criticized by media talkingheads for his “late entry,” Thompson expressed his doubt that voters will say, “That guy would make a very good president, but he didn't get in soon enough.”

After all, says Thompson, “People treat politicians sort of like dentists – they don't have anything to do with them till they have to.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, arguably the most articulate constitutional constructionist to hold that post in the last century, recently offered this assessment of the political process: “What's the job of the candidate in this world? The job of the candidate is to raise the money to hire the consultants to do the focus groups to figure out the 30-second answers to be memorized by the candidate. This is stunningly dangerous.”

Notably, responding to inquiries about his own interest in a presidential bid, Gingrich added, “If Fred Thompson runs … then I think that makes it easier for me to not run.”

What does the timing of Fred Thompson's announcement say about him as a candidate? Well, mostly that he is a leader, not a follower. To his credit, Thompson is not a “formula candidate.” He doesn't comport with the expectations of Beltway politicos, commentators and media types, and his campaign won't be as slick as some of his opponents in both parties.

For the record, however, I know Fred Thompson – the man. I know his character, his intellect and his sincerity, and I know his views on the supremacy of our Constitution. Fred's style is evocative of [Ronald Reagan's |http://Reagan2020.US/] strengths. Like Reagan, Thompson speaks right over the heads of his opponents and the Leftmedia, directly to the people. For that reason and more, the Democrats fear Fred Thompson.

In 1993, Tennessee's Republican leadership convinced Thompson, a relative unknown, to campaign for the unexpired Senate term of then-Vice President Albert Gore. He could have been just a sacrificial lamb, but on the campaign trail Fred demonstrated his ability to win the hearts and minds of Republican and Democrat voters.

Despite all the support Bill Clinton and Al Gore could muster for Fred's opponent, popular six-term Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper, Thompson won a landslide victory in 1994, garnering 61 percent of the vote. It was the largest victory margin in any statewide political contest in Tennessee history.

Thompson's tour de force didn't go unnoticed by the Democratic [sic] National Committee, nor did his 1996 re-election bid, which he won by an even wider margin. Rest assured, the DNC fears Thompson.

As a two-term senator from Tennessee, Thompson never forgot who brung him to the dance. His voting record is clear, and it establishes his standing as an unequivocal constitutional constructionist. For this reason, he garnered not only the respect of his constituents, but also the admiration of colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Like his primary opponent, Rep. Ron Paul, Thompson loathes politicos who subscribe to the notion of a “Living Constitution,” those who, for political expediency, have abandoned their oaths to “support and defend” that singular document.

“Our people have shed more blood for liberty and freedom … than all the other countries put together,” says Thompson, yet the central government “can't seem to get the most basic responsibilities right for its citizens.”

Like Rep. Paul, Thompson's commitment to uphold the plain language of our Constitution has put him on the short end of a couple of votes during his tenure (99-1 in the Senate), and his devotion to his oath of office led to several controversial votes. In 1999, for example, when the Senate voted on the impeachment of Bill Clinton, Thompson voted in the affirmative on the question of whether Clinton had obstructed justice, but joined nine other Republicans voting against conviction on the perjury charge, believing that this charge did not meet the constitutional test for removing a president from office.

Thompson's philosophy and record are most clear in regard to constitutional exegesis pertaining to federalism and state's rights, as specified by the Tenth Amendment to the Bill of Rights.

That amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This language is specific about the limitations our Constitution places upon the central government and the rights and responsibilities reserved by the several states and the people. Nonetheless, Democrats, and the judicial activists who do their bidding, have, for five decades, evaded the plain language of our Constitution by insisting that it be [adulterated by judicial diktat http://PatriotPost.US/alexander/edition.asp?id=330] in order to serve the special interests of their constituents.

Those who have been readers of The Patriot Post for many years know that we began life as The Federalist, a journal of federalism and states' rights, and that our mission “to restore constitutional limits on government and the judiciary” is, by definition, the restoration of constitutional federalism, as outlined by Ronald Reagan's “Presidential Executive Order 12612”.

It is notable, then, that on Fred Thompson's campaign website, under the category of “Principles,” there is only one item: Federalism.

Indeed, since our first issue, The Patriot has asserted that if the first principle is not the restoration of constitutionally authorized federalism, then the remainder is just the product of smoke and mirrors.

In his exposition on federalism, Thompson notes, “Before anything else, folks in Washington ought to be asking first and foremost, 'Should government be doing this? And if so, then at what level of government?' But they don't. The result has been decades of growth in the size, scope and function of national government. Today's governance of mandates, pre-emptions, regulations and federal programs bears little resemblance to the balanced system the Framers intended. … A government powerful enough to give you everything can take away from you, anything. Our government must be limited by the powers delegated to it by the Constitution.”

On that note, it is clear that Thompson will give Republican front-runners Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, both “big-government Republicans,” a run for their money. The next debate is 17 September, four months ahead of the first state primaries. With Thompson in the lineup, expect a real debate. One thing will be abundantly clear at the end of that debate: Unlike the other frontrunners, Fred Thompson does not “need” to be President in order to satiate arrogant ambition. He is driven by one motive – to humbly serve his countrymen, to promote our national security, unity and prosperity – and do so within the constraints of our Constitution.

(Publisher's Note: The Patriot's editors have provided Presidential Candidate Ratings. These ratings are based on comprehensive analysis of many factors, including each candidate's record, experience, capability, character, leadership qualifications and, of course, demonstrated ability to grasp the [plain language of our Constitution | http://patriotpost.us/alexander/2006/07/07/constitutional-exegesis-v-eisegesis/] – and promote it accordingly.)