Funny

A U.S. Marine squad was marching north of Faluijiah when they came upon an
Iraqi terrorist, badly injured and unconscious. On the opposite side of  the
road was an American Marine in a similar but less serious state.

The Marine was conscious and alert and as first aid was given to both
men,  the squad leader asked the injured Marine what had happened.

The Marine reported, “I was heavily armed and moving north along the highway
here, and coming south was a heavily armed insurgent. We saw each other
and both took cover in the ditches along the road.

“I yelled to him that Saddam Hussein is a miserable, lowlife scumbag, and he
yelled back that Ted Kennedy is a good-for-nothing, fat, left wing  liberal
democrat drunk.”

“So I said that Osama Bin Laden dresses and acts like a frigid,
mean-spirited lesbian!”

He retaliated by yelling, “oh yeah? Well, so does Hillary Clinton!”

“And, there we were, in the middle of the road, shaking hands, when a
truck hit us”

 

Fred Thompson auditions for the leading role.

From the Courthouse
to the White House

Fred Thompson auditions for the leading role.
by Stephen F. Hayes
04/23/2007, Volume 012, Issue 30

A strange thing happened a few weeks back when I went to the Café Promenade at the Mayflower Hotel for an off-the-record interview with an unpaid adviser to the non-campaign of unannounced presidential candidate Fred Thompson.

Fred Thompson showed up.

Thompson was there to have lunch with Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a powerhouse consultant with ties to the White House. The two men worked together in the fall of 2005 on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. Thompson had invited Gillespie to lunch to discuss a potential presidential bid.

On March 11, just a week before, Thompson had appeared on Fox News Sunday and told Chris Wallace that he was giving “serious consideration” to running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Ever since, advisers on other campaigns have tried to figure out how he’ll affect the race if he runs.

Several patrons in the restaurant recognized Thompson. One well-dressed man with thick white hair approached him for an autograph. It’s possible that this man wanted the autograph because Thompson served for eight years as a senator from Tennessee. But it’s more likely that he wanted a memento of the day he ate at the same restaurant as Arthur Branch, the sagacious district attorney on Law & Order; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; Law & Order: Criminal Intent; Law & Order: Trial by Jury; and Conviction, a spin-off of, well, you can probably guess. The same man returned to the table twice more. Each time Thompson put his conversation on hold and graciously tolerated the interruption.

After an hour, Thompson and Gillespie–currently chairman of the Republican party of Virginia–rose and left the restaurant. Ten minutes later, Thompson walked back in with former senator Bill Frist. They were led to a different table, but Thompson’s waitress was the same. She laughed as she took his new order. Thompson says this second lunch was unplanned. Although he and Frist talk daily, the two Tennesseans met this time by chance. Finding they both had gaps in their schedules, they spent the next two hours at Café Promenade talking about a Fred Thompson for President campaign.

There is some discontent among Republicans with the current choices for the party’s nominee in 2008. The complaints are well known: Senator John McCain, the maverick Republican, is too much maverick and not enough Republican. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani is thought to be too willful and too liberal: He recently suggested he would allow his new wife to attend cabinet meetings and reaffirmed his support for federal funding of abortion. Mitt Romney seems pleasant and competent, but pleasant and competent doesn’t beat Hillary Clinton. Senator Sam Brownback is unknown and uncharismatic. And former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is from Arkansas.

According to an adviser to one of the leading candidates, the rationale for a Thompson run is best illustrated–as so many things are–by The Simpsons. In one episode, Homer Simpson’s civic-minded neighbor Ned Flanders tells a large crowd of fellow Springfield citizens that they must choose someone to lead an anticrime campaign in the town.

“Who should lead the group?”

“You,” shouts a man from the crowd. The entire mob begins to chant.

“Flanders! Flanders! Flanders!”

When Flanders humbly begins to explain that he doesn’t have much experience in such matters, Moe the Bartender cuts him off.

“Someone else!”

The crowd joins in.

“Someone else! Someone else! Someone else!”

One obvious advantage Fred Thompson has is that he’s someone else.

In recent Republican presidential preference polls, Thompson tends to run third, behind Giuliani and McCain but ahead of Romney and the rest of the field. In a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll released last week, Thompson came in second, just ahead of McCain, with support from 15 percent of those surveyed. In late March, Thompson won a straw poll of Republicans in conservative Gwinnett County, Georgia, earning more votes than all of the other candidates combined. And Iowa Republican party executive director Chuck Laudner told the Washington Times, “He’s the biggest buzz in the state.”

Representative Zach Wamp, a fellow Tennesseean who is running an effort to “Draft Fred,” tells me he expects 60 congressional Republicans to show up early next week at a meet-and-greet with Thompson. Mark Corallo, who has volunteered to answer press inquiries for Thompson, has been getting dozens of calls each day–not only from reporters, but from Republicans around the country who have seen his name in the newspaper and tracked him down at his private consulting firm to sign up for a Thompson campaign. Politicians are reaching out to Bill Frist to offer their support. Says Frist: “I have governors who have called me, fundraisers I’ve known from my days as majority leader who are ready to go.”

All of this, for a candidate who has not yet announced for anything.

Last week, I went to Thompson’s home in the verdant Washington suburb of McLean, Virginia, to talk to him about his prospective presidential run. We spoke for more than four hours about his life in Tennessee, his family, his acting career, his foray into politics, and his future.

I was 30 minutes late. Thompson, who was on the phone with Howard Baker, his political mentor, didn’t seem to care. He hung up, extended his large hand, offered a friendly greeting, and led me to his office. We were alone. Thompson’s work space looks just like what the home office of a successful politician or CEO should look like–though a little messier: a large desk, dark wood, leather furniture, lots of books and magazines and newspapers, a flat-screen TV, and box upon box of cigars–Montecristos from Havana.

The presence of the cigars and the absence of a press chaperone were clues that Thompson is taking a different approach to his potential candidacy. A campaign flack would have insisted on hiding the cigars–Senator, how did you get those Cuban cigars? Isn’t there a trade embargo?–and might have dampened Thompson’s natural candor. On subjects ranging from Social Security to abortion, the CIA and to Iran, there would be lots of candor over the next several hours.

And by the end of the conversation, two unexpected realities had emerged. If he joins the race for the Republican nomination, and if he campaigns the same way he spoke to me last week, Fred Thompson, a mild-mannered, slow-talking southern gentleman, will run as the politically aggressive conservative that George W. Bush hasn’t been for four years. And the actor in the race could well be the most authentic personality in the field.

Thompson seems to recognize that he wins the guy-I’d-want-to-get-a-beer-with primary the moment he announces. He comes across as a regular guy–”folksy” will be the political cliché that attaches to his candidacy–and punctuates explanations of his positions with the kind of off-the-cuff homespun witticisms that Dan Rather spent a career trying to come up with.

We sat facing each other in leather armchairs, and after some small talk I asked him what life was like growing up in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. He began talking, and about 30 minutes later it was already 1994 and he was about to be elected to the U.S. Senate. I’d tried to interrupt with questions here and there, but he had a story he was determined to tell.

It’s a good story. Thompson was born in Alabama and lived for most of his young life in Middle Tennessee. His father sold used cars and his mother took care of the house. Neither one graduated from high school, although Thompson’s father earned his high school equivalency certificate later in life. His family ate dinner every night at 6:00 P.M. “It was like clockwork,” he says. Thompson was not a great student in high school. At one point, he says, several of his teachers worked together to strip him of the title given to him by a vote of his peers–Most Athletic–because his grades were substandard. His father was something of a jokester, but also when necessary a disciplinarian.

“I grew up not having anything to live up to from an economic or professional standpoint, but having a lot to live up to from a growing-up and becoming-a-man standpoint,” says Thompson.

That example would be important at a young age. Thompson married his high school sweetheart at 17, and together they enrolled at Memphis State University, where he studied philosophy and political science. Thompson worked several jobs to put himself through college and support a growing family.

“I sold clothing,” he says. “I sold shoes. I sold baby shoes. I sold ladies shoes. I worked in a factory.”

His wife’s uncle and grandfather were both lawyers, and Thompson says he wanted to live up to the professional standards of her family. The law school at Vanderbilt University had seemed an unattainable goal for an underachieving high school student from a family without means. But it was a goal nonetheless. Thompson got serious academically as an undergraduate, and won admission.

Once a lawyer, he had a brief stint with the U.S. attorney’s office, then went into private practice–”hung out my shingle,” he says–and volunteered to work for Howard Baker’s reelection campaign for Senate in 1972. Shortly after Baker returned to Washington he asked Thompson to join him for what he thought would be a short-term project. A special committee had been established to look into the Committee to Reelect President Richard M. Nixon, and Baker, the panel’s top Republican, asked Thompson to serve as minority counsel. Thompson could often be seen at Baker’s side as the investigation grew from a routine oversight hearing into the proceedings that would cause a president to resign. Thompson, who wrote a book about his experiences called At That Point in Time: The Inside Story of the Senate Watergate Committee, asked the question that led to the revelation of the White House taping systems. “Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?” And Thompson is often credited with feeding Baker the line that would become one of the most famous of an era: “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

Thompson says he passed up several offers with big Washington law firms to return to Nashville, where he entered a private practice with two law school classmates. He took the case of Marie Ragghianti, the head of Tennessee’s Parole and Pardons Board. Ragghianti had grown concerned about what she saw as a pattern of suspicious pardons ordered from the office of Governor Ray Blanton. Her suspicions were later confirmed and Blanton was forced from office in a cash-for-clemency scandal that continued until his last day.

Peter Maas, author of Serpico, turned Marie Ragghianti’s story into a book creatively titled Marie and published in 1983. Director Roger Donaldson bought the movie rights and came to Nashville to interview the major players. After meeting Thompson, Donaldson asked him if he’d like to play himself in the movie. Thompson agreed.

Over the next two decades, Thompson would appear in dozens of films and television shows as a character actor, often one who personifies government strength. It is a role that seems to fit. “Literally, I don’t think Fred ever acts,” says Tom Ingram, a longtime friend from Tennessee who now serves as chief of staff to Senator Lamar Alexander. “He played himself in Marie, and he’s been playing himself ever since.”

When Donaldson needed someone to play the role of CIA director in his next film, No Way Out, he turned to Thompson. A string of movies followed: The Hunt for Red October, Days of Thunder, Die Hard 2, Curly Sue, Cape Fear, In the Line of Fire. And there were cameo appearances on TV’s Matlock and later Sex and the City.

Thompson never moved to Hollywood, choosing to stay in Tennessee, where he continued to practice law and remained involved in Republican politics. When Al Gore was elected vice president, Tennessee’s Democratic governor, Ned McWherter, appointed one of his top advisers to serve until the 1994 elections, when a replacement would be elected to fill the final two years of Gore’s term. Thompson’s name came up early, and eventually, in July 1993, he filed papers for an exploratory committee.

Thompson knew from the beginning that it would be a difficult race. His opponent was Jim Cooper, a popular conservative Democrat who had developed a national reputation as a legislative expert on health care, widely considered one of the country’s most important issues. Thompson started the race well behind Cooper. He told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal that he was a moderate Republican. The reporter who interviewed Thompson described him as “pro-choice,” but noted that he supported restrictions on abortion at the state level and opposed federal funding. (A 1994 story in National Review also described Thompson as pro-choice.)

In a poll taken in February 1994, 36 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for Cooper, while just 17 percent supported Thompson. The Hotline, a Washington-based digest on campaigns and elections, reported the poll results under the headline: “They Know Thompson’s Face, But Not His Name.” It would prove to be an accurate diagnosis of Thompson’s difficulties.

“For a year, I didn’t scratch,” Thompson says, looking back.

At the low point, Thompson met at a Cracker Barrel with Ingram. Thompson told his friend that he wasn’t having any fun campaigning and was pessimistic about his chances to win. He was considering dropping out. Thompson had had it with the rubber-chicken Republican dinners and the rigors of campaigning across the state. “Fred was beleaguered by the traditional way of running for office,” Ingram remembers. “He was expressing his misery over things.”

Ingram had a question for Thompson: What would you do if you ran the way you wanted to run? Thompson thought for a minute, then said he’d shed as much of the campaign apparatus as possible and drive around the state in a pick-up truck. Ingram suggested he do just that, and Thompson thought it a good recommendation. Thompson would soon be known for his red pick-up truck. Cooper’s campaign complained that it was a Hollywood-style gimmick designed to make Thompson look down to earth, and it surely was that. “But it was more than a device,” Ingram insists. “It made Fred comfortable as a candidate. He felt liberated to just be himself.”

Thompson ran on a strong small-government–even antigovernment–message. “America’s government is bringing America down, and the only thing that can change that is a return to the basics,” he said. “We will get back to basics and make the sacrifices and once again amaze the world at how, in America, ordinary people can do very extraordinary things.” Thompson emphasized issues that would appeal to disaffected voters–making laws apply to the members of Congress who pass them; congressional pay raises; entitlement reform.

It was a message that began to resonate. Two months before the election, a poll by national Republicans put the race dead even. And as Thompson increased his advertising–allowing voters to put his famous face together with his name–he took the lead, and it grew. “Some people knew me and knew my face, but I started out 20 points behind” he says. “I just had to work at it until I raised enough money to go on television and then I went up pretty fast.” Cooper asked for and was given free air-time for his ads after stations played movies starring Thompson. But it was too late.

Thompson won 61 percent of the vote, Cooper just 39 percent. Part of the explanation was that Thompson was swept along in the historic Republican tide of 1994. But Cooper would later say that he’d underestimated the political importance of Thompson’s film career. “He was in so many movies,” Cooper told the Nashville Tennesseean in 2002. “I should have been more worried than I was because that is a powerful way to present yourself to the public.”

Thompson’s new colleagues in Washington immediately tried to capitalize on his ability to communicate. Bob Dole, recently elevated to Senate majority leader, picked Thompson to present the televised Republican response to a national address by President Bill Clinton.

On Christmas Day, 1994, Thompson was a guest on ABC’s This Week. Sam Donaldson opened the interview by telling viewers that while they might not know the name Fred Thompson, they might recognize his face. “I want to just show people how accomplished you are, because if they have been sitting at home saying, ‘You know, I know this guy, I know this guy,’ there’s a reason,” he said, before playing clips of the actor.

Thompson was at his most self-deprecating. “When they needed some middle-aged guy who’d work cheap, they’d call me for a little part and I’d go out there two or three weeks and knock one out,” he explained to Donaldson.

Donaldson asked Thompson why he was chosen to give the GOP response to Clinton. “I want to keep boring in on this question of–perhaps you were chosen because the Republican leaders said, ‘Fred Thompson is not just another pretty face.’ I mean, Fred Thompson–”

“That’s for sure.”

Then Donaldson asked Thompson about presidential politics. “Who are the Republicans going to put up to run for the presidency in two years?”

“I think that it’s going to be wide open,” Thompson replied. “I think that there’s at least a half a dozen people out there. There might be someone that hasn’t been mentioned.”

“Let me give you a name,” Donaldson pressed. “Let me give you a name: Fred Thompson. Senator Fred Thompson.”

Thompson found the suggestion amusing. “There’s one thing, I think, for certain that I’ve observed around here over the period of time that I’ve been here, and watching all this for years, and that is when people come to town, somewhere along the line, if they do anything at all, if they’re shown to be able to put one foot in front of the other, they’re mentioned for the national ticket. So now you’ve mentioned me, and I appreciate it, so we can move on to more serious topics.”

Thompson had not yet been sworn in.

In eight years in the Senate, Thompson developed a reputation for an independent streak, yet he compiled a voting record more conservative than one might expect of one who had described himself as a moderate in his first campaign. Over the course of his time in Congress he earned a lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union of 86 percent. He was not quite as conservative (using 2002 numbers) as Rick Santorum (87), Strom Thurmond (91), Trent Lott (93), or Jesse Helms (99), but more conservative than Arlen Specter (42), Olympia Snowe (52), John Warner (82), and John McCain (84).

His voting record suggests a strong belief in federalism. Thompson was frequently a lonely voice opposing the federalization of what in his view were state issues. His unwillingness to compromise on that principle even put him on the losing end of a 99-to-1 vote on the so-called Good Samaritan law, legislation that protected individuals from being sued if their good faith efforts to help someone in distress were unsuccessful. He thought it should have been left to the states.

Thompson also served as chairman of the Senate Government Relations Committee, which he used to investigate fundraising irregularities in the 1996 presidential election cycle. Republicans had high hopes that Thompson’s inquiry would add to the political difficulties of the Clinton White House stemming from its malfeasance on campaign financing.

After the hearings ended, Fox News Channel’s Brit Hume described Thompson as “flying high before his hearings . . . and shot down once they started and all the way through them.”

Thompson says “the congressional investigative function is not a prosecutorial function” and acknowledges that the hearings produced “mixed result in many respects.” He believes the criticism stems from the fact that “few people went to jail.”

As Thompson considered his future, he began telling friends that he was not certain he wanted to seek reelection in 2002. He changed his mind after the attacks of September 11. Thompson, who served at the time on the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced in late September that he would run again. “Now is not the time for me to leave,” he said. “This is the way now, it’s perfectly clear, for me to contribute the most.” He spent the next several weeks traveling to churches throughout Tennessee talking about the attacks and the coming U.S. response to them.

At a hearing of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on October 4, 2001, Thompson sounded a skeptical note about the prospect of reorganizing the federal homeland security bureaucracy. “The government, basically, cannot manage large projects very well,” he said. “Maybe we can learn from our past experience with other government agencies and other crises and things of that nature and not make the same mistakes as we go about trying to rearrange these boxes and decide who reports to who and who has what authority. And maybe we’ll take the lessons that we’ve learned from our other management problems in particular.”

Then in late January 2002, his daughter Elizabeth Panici died suddenly following a heart attack. She was only 38. Thompson’s friends say he was devastated. A month later he announced that he had changed his mind–he would not seek reelection. “I simply do not have the heart for another six-year term.”

At a press conference after his announcement, he lashed out at the media for their intrusive coverage of his private life. “Every public official has to understand that he or she is a public official and that’s the price you pay. For the most part, that’s appropriate,” he said. “That’s the price your whole family pays. There are lines to be drawn. I think it’s extremely unfortunate and uncalled for for the local newspaper to discuss the details of this. Her death obviously played in my decision, but the details of all of that, what news value does that have? Why did she have to pay that price? Why does her little five-year-old boy have to pay that price because her daddy chose to try to serve his state and his country? It’s over the line and more like the National Enquirer-type stuff than anything else.”

In his final months in the Senate, Thompson concentrated his efforts on legislation that would create the Department of Homeland Security. He fought efforts by Democrats to subject the new workforce to union and collective bargaining rules that apply to federal employees more broadly. The bill passed two weeks after the 2002 midterm elections, on a vote of 90-9.

“This is the most significant thing I’ve been involved in and certainly the most significant thing I’ve had my name on because it involves the main function of government, and that is protecting its citizens.”

More than four years later, munching on a turkey sandwich and sour cream and onion potato chips at his dining room table, he displays an unusual willingness to second-guess his own decision. After Thompson criticized the growth of bureaucracy under the new director of national intelligence, I asked him why the new bureaucracy under Department of Homeland Security is any different.

“Well, to tell you the truth, in retrospect, we may conclude that it wasn’t any different. But it got to the point where almost anything would have been an improvement,” he says. “A lot of those agencies were in and of themselves dysfunctional, so bringing them together was not going to make everybody greater. . . . But you’ve got to start somewhere and you can’t wait until everything is just right until you start coordinating. So we were kind of jumping aboard a moving train.”

It was an admirably honest appraisal of what he once pointed to as the crowning achievement of his career in Congress. As we spoke, I was struck by the fact that Thompson didn’t seem to be calibrating his answers for a presidential run. On issue after contentious issue, I got the sense from both his manner and the answers he gave me that he was just speaking extemporaneously. Many of his answers would drive a poll-watching political consultant nuts.

My suspicions were confirmed when Thompson asked at one point if he could have a transcript of our interview. “I found myself talking on some subjects that I haven’t really thought that much about,” he explained. “Oh, so this is what I think, huh?”

* Thompson says he came to respect George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign because of his plan to reform Social Security. Congressional Republicans considered the plan a political liability, and it went nowhere. Thompson says that although it was only tinkering on the margins of real reform, it was a good start. He won’t share his own plan–”I’ll roll that out at the appropriate time”–but the general principle he articulates sounds like a political risk.

“It’s based upon the proposition that granddad and grandmom will be willing to sacrifice a little bit if they feel like it helps their grandkids avoid financial disaster, and that their sacrifice is not going to be wasted down some government rathole,” he explains. “Under most plans, most good plans, you know current retirees probably would not be affected that much at all. . . . We’ve been operating under the assumption in this country that it’s the third rail and that if you talk about it, those people who are most concerned about retirement programs will kill you. I don’t think that’s true.”

* He believes that elements of the CIA were out to get Scooter Libby and his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby, though not the original leaker of the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame, was convicted of lying and obstructing justice. “It makes me mad as the devil just to think about it,” Thompson says. He had never met Libby when he volunteered to serve on the advisory board of the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust. Is Libby innocent? Thompson answers with one word. “Yes.”

Do you think there will be negative political fallout from defending the convicted former chief of staff to an unpopular vice president?

“I have no idea. I have a hard time seeing it. If I’m wrong about the temperature of the American people on this, then I’m wrong about a lot of things about the American people. And we might as well find out.”

* I asked him about his vote for the Iraq war and the Bush administration’s failure to explain to the American public the real story of the prewar intelligence on Iraq. I ask Thompson how it is possible that a majority of the country believes the Bush administration lied about Iraqi WMD, when the U.S. intelligence community and the world consensus was that Saddam Hussein had these weapons.

“Part of it had to do with what has become almost a knee-jerk suspicion on the part of a lot of people with regards to anybody in authority,” he says. And then he directly faults the Bush administration. “A part of it has been the administration’s inability to sufficiently communicate the reality of the situation. It’s not just the president. . . . You have to have an organized, pervasive ability to get your message across and rebut erroneous misstatements of the history. It is amazing to me how something like this could be perceived so erroneously by so many people. Because we all
 know what the facts are. We’ve all seen the statements and the comments of Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, and the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, and the list goes on and on and on.”

Thompson slips into sarcasm. “It is amazing to me how a man that they say is so dumb fooled so many real smart people. But that’s what they’re saying about Bush. Bush
 canoodled the entire Democratic establishment. Absurd on its face, and yet some people want to believe that sort of thing.”

Then he goes on to give a better defense of the White House than anything that has come out of the White House communications shop in four years.

The irony here is that intelligence services had consistently over the years understated the capabilities of enemies and potential enemies. Now, here there was unanimity among the intelligence services, some of whom are supposed to be better than ours. . . . People don’t understand intelligence. They don’t understand. It’s seldom clear. It’s often caveated. It’s sometimes flat-out wrong. Different people often have different ideas. That’s what a president is faced with. And some today would say that politically a president has got to have unanimity before he can make a choice. And then they say that if he has that unanimity, the president has to make that choice–at the same time talking about how deficient our capabilities are. But if those deficient capabilities produced a recommendation, the president of the United States and leader of the free world has to take that recommendation. That has been so faulty in the past. It’s absurd. Presidents in the future, as always, have to make a determination based on a lot of things, and intelligence is one of them. And the president not only has the right to evaluate the intelligence that he’s receiving, he has a duty to do that. He listens to the British. I mean, if history was any judge, I don’t know about now, but if the Brits tell me that there’s an [Iraqi] deal with Niger and our guys don’t know whether there was or not, I tend to rely on the Brits. I mean, those are the calls the president’s got to make, and the question is really: Which way do you want the president to lean? Caution–that it’s probably not so? When bad news is delivered, he gets mixed messages, he gets various intelligence reports of various kinds. Did you want him all balled up in all of that, you know, trying to apply some kind of a scientific equation to it for fear that somebody in an intelligence committee is going to wave it around at a hearing later on or something like that? Is that what it’s come to? If so, the world is going to be a lot more dangerous than it otherwise already is. You’ve got to exercise the authority and the responsibilities that you’ve been given. I mean, in this debate over intelligence and what it is and what it ought to be and how it’s used and all of that, you know, [it] needs to be dealt with and laid out in a way that people can understand it. . . . The next report says somebody’s got weapons of mass destruction, you know what’re we going to do with that? You know, just because history–a cat won’t sit on a hot stove twice, but he won’t sit on a cold stove either.

* He is equally blunt about Iran. Thompson says that the actions of the Iranian regime–harboring senior al Qaeda leaders, funding and training Iraqi insurgents, supplying terrorists in Iraq with devices that are killing American soldiers–are acts of war. He stops short of calling for a military response, but seems to suggest that he would be saying something different if circumstances were different.

“Unfortunately, today it can’t be considered in isolation, so you have to take into consideration our capabilities and our priorities worldwide right now. And unfortunately we’re stretched too thin.” Nonetheless, he says, the long-term objective in Iran is the same one that led to the Iraq war. “I think the bottom line with Iran is that nothing is going to change unless there is a regime change.”

* In the days since Thompson allowed that he was thinking about running for president, his views on abortion have come under scrutiny. Thompson finds the news reports from his first run for Senate perplexing.

“I have read these accounts and tried to think back 13 years ago as to what may have given rise to them. Although I don’t remember it, I must have said something to someone as I was getting my campaign started that led to a story. Apparently, another story was based upon that story, and then another was based upon that, concluding I was pro-choice.”

But, he adds: “I was interviewed and rated pro-life by the National Right to Life folks in 1994, and I had a 100 percent voting record on abortion issues while in the Senate.”

Darla St. Martin, associate executive director of National Right to Life, supports Thompson on those claims. She traveled to Tennessee in 1994 to meet with him. “I interviewed him and on all of the questions I asked him, he opposed abortion,” she told the American Spectator‘s Philip Klein.

Thompson says he thinks Roe v. Wade is bad law and should be overturned, but he says he does not support a Human Life Amendment.

One of the few times Thompson was unwilling to share his thoughts came when I asked him if he thought Rudy Giuliani was too liberal to win the Republican nomination and if Hillary Clinton could make a good president. The only question he would answer about his potential rivals concerned John McCain.

Thompson was one of four senators to support McCain in 2000 and served as the national co-chairman of his campaign. So I asked him why he’s not supporting McCain again.

“You know the old joke about–what about me? As self-centered as that sounds, and it is, that ought to be the way it is.” He adds: “Besides, you can’t predict what’s going to happen anyway, with any of them. Anybody could implode. Anybody could take off.”

Before his appearance on Fox News Sunday, Thompson called McCain to let him know that he would announce that he was seriously considering a presidential bid. The conversation was friendly. “If we do this,” he says, “we’ll remain friends and we’ll be friends after this.”

There is considerable talk among the other Republican campaigns that the Thompson boomlet is driven by little more than celebrity. Maybe. But history suggests that Thompson may actually be underpolling right now. As was the case when he ran for office in Tennessee, he has a very recognizable face but his national name identity is actually quite low.

Gallup conducted a survey in late March asking respondents an open-ended question: “What comes to your mind when you think about former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson?” Sixty-seven percent of Republicans responded that they had no opinion of Thompson or were not familiar with him. And yet he shows up in the top three choices of potential Republican nominees in most of the polling that includes his name. As voters come to associate that name with a familiar and well-liked face, and if they get to see the personable Thompson on TV, Thompson strategists assume those polling numbers can only go up.

When Thompson met with Bill Frist at the Mayflower Hotel, they had important business to discuss. More than two years ago, Thompson had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is “indolent” lymphoma, a slow-growing form of the disease that is not usually symptomatic. If you’re going to have one of the 33 varieties of lymphoma, Thompson says, this is the one you want. “It’s easy to diagnose, easy to treat and easy to live with,” Frist, a physician, confirms. But it sounds scary, the kind of thing that might spook potential primary voters if it were disclosed by an announced candidate.

“We thought we had to get it out early,” says Frist, “in the sense that he’s going to be announcing.”

If Frist’s acknowledgment that Thompson was going to run may have been a slip, Thompson’s own words also suggest he’s running. He says he understands “how hard it is, how difficult it is, how embarrassing it is, how intrusive it is.” And he knows that as a candidate he could be subject to harsh attacks.

“That’s the least of it anymore,” he says. “It’s not pleasant, but it’s not that important anymore because you’re straight with your family, you have a level of understanding and knowledge about your family, and they with you, and with the man upstairs, and that’s that. You know, ain’t really much past that. And it kind of frees you up in a way.”

Yes, it does.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

Why is Islam Afraid of History?

Why is Islam Afraid of History?

I suppose it was ok to destroy millennia old Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, countless holy places in India, and even underneath the Temple Mount. We saw when Palestinians desecrated the Church of The Nativity in Jerusalem by using it as a base for snipers and desecrating the insides while doing so. No big deal. After all, it is a holy site of infidels, not a cartoon of Mohammed. Why waste a good rampage on infidels?

Like Communism banning music and religion, or Nazi book burning, Islam has a way of trying to create its own past and future. The entire world outside of Islam knows that there were Jewish temples on that site. Ancient Babylonian and Roman references to them exist, as well as the actual artifacts beneath the old Temple site. The same artifacts Arafat tried to destroy. Now the Muslims have concocted a story that those Israelis who are unearthing Jewish and Roman artifacts of the time the last temple stood, are plotting to sink the Dome of The Rock. Why would they do this? Because in the huge piles of rubble left by desecrating Palestinians, the Israelis have unearthed more proof that they existed there long before the Palestinians.

In Egypt there are sites the government refuses access, banning archaeological digs at those locations, simply because they do not desire anyone else to find what they already know. That Jews existed in those areas. Not just as bands of wandering nomads, but as civilized and metropolitan people.

Turkey refuses people access to Ararat, the famed site of Noah’s Ark. Maybe there is something to it if they do not want the fact published that the Jewish Bible was correct in its passages concerning the Ark.

Along with the changing of this past, many Muslims believe that the Temple Mount is sacred to their faith. If Mohammed went to the Far Mosque, it certainly had to be located somewhere else. The Dome of The Rock was not even built until 60 years after Mohammed died. So the Dome of The Rock cannot be the place where Mohammed went, as there was no mosque in place there when he died. In fact, the expectation that it would become another Mecca or Medina fizzled out, and it went into disrepair less than 20 years after its completion.

Muslims never showed an interest in a Hadj to that place. It was not a Muslim holy place back then, and in my opinion is not one today as far as history is concerned. It has become nothing more than a rallying point for jihad, and a political bargaining chip. In fact, the Quran even says that Allah gave that area to the Jews. So by trying to take it away, they disobey their own god and prophet. They transgress their own holy book. Why would Mohammed claim that Jerusalem is holy, yet turn his back towards the city when he prayed? Muslims are fighting for something that their own prophet turned his back on. Interesting, isn’t it?

However, it is a holy place for the Jews. It has been since before the temple was first built by Solomon, after the captivity in Babylon, and throughout the ages. The Wailing Wall is evidence that it once stood. The tunnels beneath, the ramps, the ritual baths, and other artifacts show that it existed when the Bible says it did, and used for the sole purpose of Jewish rituals. The site and the architecture are detailed in the Bible, not the Quran. But somehow it has become a bone of contention to Muslims who claim otherwise.

It is sacred as well to Christians, yet they make no claims to the mount or its ruins. Nor do they protest when Israel decides to as they wish with it. No jihad is waged, no threats, no wars begin over it. Other than the usual stops for touring pilgrims that show places as detailed in the Bible, it is never an issue. To dent that would be to deny ones own faith in Christianity.

So I have to wonder what is it about Islam that thinks it can destroy other religious artifacts, and make claim to sites that they never had any claim to? Just ask those in India who see a mosque sitting atop the site where their temple used to sit. I think Muslims are afraid of history because as it is will show them things they do not want to see. They do not want to see the holes in their own dogma. They do not want to see that the reason they kill Jews is no reason at all. They do not want to admit that the excuse they have been using all these years to exterminate Jews is based on falsehood. And they do not want to have to sit around and find another way to impose Islam on a global level beginning with the Jews.

I think history and archaeology have shown what the rest of the world never really doubted. That Israel has its history and its faith in Jerusalem and on that Temple mount. The heart and soul of Judaism rests in those places, and no matter how many artifacts you destroy, or how many fables you concoct to make people believe otherwise, that will never change the truth. It is similar to the lies of the Holocaust deniers. Their lies will never cover up the branded flesh and great loss of life.

Muslims can believe Mohammed was ignorant enough to visit a mosque that did not exist. They can believe the Jews never had a temple there. They can believe that Islam has the rights to that place. But in the end, it will never change the truth.

The Temple Mount always has and always will be Jewish. Just ask Allah or Mohammed. They said the same thing.

As Expected, Appeasement Advocates are Encouraged and Concerned by Bad News

As Expected, Appeasement Advocates are Encouraged and Concerned by Bad News

Another embarrassingly bad week for advocates of appeasing totalitarianism. Not to worry: cooler heads will pevail. And so much is happening behind the scenes. And … so it goes.

A brief roundup:

Rising China’s Stalinist/Kimist vassal, North Korea, blew off a key deadline (see story below), and the four-year-old struggle to get the rogue regime to begin dismantling its nuclear programs remained stalled Saturday.

Beijing urged patience, while America’s dumbbell diplomats said they were “concerned” but also “encouraged.” (They have yet to figure out if Pyongyang’s program is limited to plutonium bombs or includes clandestine uranium enrichment.)

So much for the Korean peninsula. Over in Iran, the nuclear-arming mullahocracy–China’s most important ally in the Muslim world–continued to defy the West with its uranium enrichment boasts.

Tehran’s turbaned tyrants also turned up the heat in Lebanon. Amid reports that Iranian proxy Hezbollah was preparing for a summer war with Israel, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made a fiery speech suggesting a determination to take power in Lebanon even if it leads to a new civil war. (Nasrallah is now a looming influence in Syria. The secular Baathist dictatorship, as part of an attempt to appease an Islamist revival sweeping the country, has promoted his beaming, bearded visage in banners, posters, and tee-shirts.)

The bloodshed in Iraq picked up at week’s end with suicide bombings in Baghdad that killed dozens of civilians. Still, Washington clings to the notion that a combination of military force and diplomacy can somehow end the war without leaving competing Iranian-backed and Al Qaeda-associated factions in charge of the fractured country.

There was one piece of good news in the region. While Iraq’s Islamist maniacs were spilling innocent blood Saturday, more than 300,000 Turks marched to try to stop the ruling AK Party from picking Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as their presidential candidate next week because of his Islamist roots. The party was spawned by rightwing political Islam. The possibility of a presidency headed by Erdogan has split secular but predominantly Muslim Turkey, which is seeking European Union membership.

“Turkey is secular and will remain secular,” protesters shouted as they waved national flags and banners of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, revered founder of the republic that separated religion and state.

Some protesters called on the government to resign and chanted: “We don’t want an imam as president.”

Erdogan has supporters and sympathizers in the US foreign policy establishment. They see him as a model, so-called moderate, “Islamist-leaning” leader.

Factor highlights–and the real Al Sharpton

Bill Clinton’s Escapades Will Sink Hillary, Tyrrell Says

Dick Morris says that “when Hillary wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, the cause is most likely R. Emmett Tyrrell.”

Hillary will be screaming about Tyrrell’s latest blockbuster: The Clinton Crack-Up.

Tyrrell shows that Bill Clinton is the boy president that never grew up, the high-school jock of America’s political locker room—complete with fawning co-eds and a bully’s cocksure posture.

But as New York Times best-selling author and America Spectator founder and editor in chief R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. reveals in this uproarious expose’, behind the façade is a dissipated disaster of a man—undisciplined, unbalanced, and unscrupulous.

With his legendary investigative eye for the Clintons’ mischief, Tyrrell sheds glaring light on Bill Clinton and reveals:

  • How he crashed Bill Clinton’s 60th birthday party in Toronto – and the surprising reaction he had when he first saw Clinton.
  • What young Clinton aides say behind Clinton’s back about the former President and why they mimic his “quirky mannerisms.”
  • The real story of how Clinton’s team trashed the White House as he left the Presidency in 2001.
  • Why Clinton is nothing more than a 1960′s generation first President: “a smiling, pouty, hulk of a man – an overgrown adolescent.”
  • Clinton’s $43 million money grab – after expenses and living costs – since he left the White House.
  • Clinton’s “Taj Mahal:” his Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, that cost an amazing $165,000,000.
  • Why history will remember Clinton for being the most undisciplined President of the modern era and the least ethical.
  • What FOBs Rick Kaplan and Jeff Greenfield told Tyrrell about Clinton’s scandals after he left the White House.
  • Clinton’s “funk” in 2001 and what Secret Service agents said about Clinton’s chatter about becoming Secretary General of the United Nations.
  • Terry McAuliffe’s recollections about he boy President after he left the White House: Clinton did not know how to use an ATM card.
  • Clinton is such a no show in Chappaqua and despite claims by Hillary and Bill of intense religiosity, Tyrrell uncovered that there’s no church within thirty miles of Chappaqua that has Bill or Hillary as even casual visitors.
  • The true story of Secret Service agents who work for Hillary and why they “detest” her and their true feelings about Bill.
  • The secret “deal” that Hillary and Bill made to keep their marriage together that has often times resulted in “verbal violence.”
  • Why the New York City Police Department Dignitary Protective Unit is so angry with the President’s desire for “off-the-beaten-path” night spots.
  • The Clinton curse: Why both Clintons’ friends and enemies seem to suffer so much.
  • “The Chop Suey Connection:” The Clintons’ ties to China and why it portends such dangers if Hillary ever becomes President.
  • How Bill Clinton used his book “My Life” to sabotage any plans John Kerry had in using him to campaign during the 2004 election.
  • Why the Clintons have become “the two most exaggerated figures in modern American political history.”

Tyrrell’s visit to the Clinton Library and the surprising revelations he made.

Tyrrell follows the boy president’s wayward trail from Washington to Harlem, from Chappaqua to Hong Kong, from his double-wide presidential library with the penthouse on top in Little Rock to the moneychangers’ dens of Dubai.

Globetrotting, shady backstage dealing, and chumming up to Hollywood’s dubious elite, keep Clinton’s larger-than-life image alive—helped all the while by his enraptured admirers and Episodic Apologists. But Tyrrell reveals the real Clinton, a Clinton rarely reported: easily distracted, easily seduced, and a prodigal child of the Sixties as prone to squander his potential as an elder statesman as he was while ensconced in the West Wing.

Debunking the lies and dismantling the myths, Tyrrell takes a genuine look at the post-presidency of Bill Clinton, his legacy, and his future in American politics—including his backdoor chance at returning to the White House in 2008.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of the famous and feared American Spectator, a political and cultural monthly, which has been published since 1967. The author of several books including the New York Times best-selling Boy Clinton, Madam Hillary, The Liberal Crack-Up, and The Conservative Crack-Up, Tyrrell’s syndicated column appears in such venues as the New York Sun, the Washington Times, Townhall.com, and CNN.com. Additionally, his writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Harper’s, New York Times, National Review, New York Magazine, and in the UK’s Guardian, Independent, the Evening Standard, and The Telegraph newspapers.

“Whew! Bob says things about Bill Clinton that even Hillary wouldn’t say.” —P.J. O’Rourke

Obama Out-Funds Hillary, Gains New Donors

Dick Morris & Eileen McGann
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hillary and Bill have made an unpleasant discovery over the past three months.

Without the ability to pass out coveted goodies, like over-nights in the Lincoln Bedroom, invitations to White House coffees and state dinners, trips on Air Force One, weekends at Camp David, lucrative government contracts, top appointments, and the power to sign or veto legislation, their ability to raise money is far less than it once was.

That’s one of the key reasons why Hillary came in second in fundraising for the first quarter.

For years, people have wondered whether the Clinton money machine was based on ideology and personal loyalty, or just the plethora of presidential perks at Bill’s disposal. The first quarter results give a resounding answer: It’s the perks, stupid.

Coming from nowhere, without any strong pre-existing donor base, Sen. Barack Obama’s sensational showing in the first quarter — amassing $25 million in campaign contributions — has left the Clintons sputtering. And his astonishing bottom line is only part of his surprise upset in beating Hillary.

While she narrowly edged out the new kid on the political block in the total amount raised, Obama outscored Hillary 2 to 1 where it really counts: the number of individual donors. This is a big win for Obama and demonstrates both the depth of support for an attractive alternative to Hillary, as well as the finely tuned organizing skills of the first-term senator.

In the first three months of 2007, 100,000 people gave Obama money, while Hillary’s fundraising base was only half as large with 50,000. That’s a big difference, especially when the distant second place went to the former first lady, who, along with her former president husband, has been cultivating fat-cat Democrats and building a donor network for more than 16 years.

Even with Bill — the man she calls the most popular man in the world — working overtime to track down every last Clinton supporter with money, she (and he) could only attract half as many donors than a rookie from Illinois. So much for popularity. And Obama’s money just keeps on coming!

His campaign announced that he raised an additional $500,000 online in the 24 hours since he announced his total on Wednesday. That means that he raised almost $7.5 million to Hillary’s $4 million from online donors. And Obama has added another 4,300 new donors!

Early in the presidential race, the amount of money a campaign has raised matters as much as the number of donors who anted up.

You can always go back to your donors and get more money, unless they have already maxed out. An initial $100 donor can become a $500 contributor by the end of the race. Direct-mail donors can be re-solicited again and again and online donors keep on giving. So the key is to be able to go back to donors for more. With twice as many donors as Clinton, Obama will be able to raise much more money — much more than the former first lady.

Hillary won’t disclose how many of her donors have reached the maximum of $2,200 for the primary, and $2,200 for the general election. But, reports of her fundraising tactics suggest that she squeezed her donors dry. In practical terms, this means that she has fewer donors to go back to for later donations.

So, what happened with Hillary?

It’s not that she didn’t pay attention to raising money — she and Bill were working overtime to try and build a definite lead that would clearly establish her as the invincible front-runner. That didn’t work.

Why doesn’t her front-runner status and long history of raising big bucks translate into more donors and more money?

One answer may be Clinton’s solicitation fatigue. The Clintons are always knocking at the door with their hands out. Donors may be very tired of the constant phone calls from Chappaqua — for the Clinton Library, the tsunami, Katrina, Hillary’s Senate campaign, Bill’s birthday, HILLPAC, Bill’s Global Initiative, etc. etc.

When donors see the “914″ area code (for Chappaqua) on their caller ID, they may understandably cringe and not answer. Soon, the donors may be asking their Public Service Commission to put Bill and Hillary on their no-call list! But the most significant reason that the Clintons didn’t hit a home run in the first quarter may be due to the fact that they don’t have any more perks to hand out.

The Clintons brought new meaning to presidential fundraising by giving donors free reign of the White House. From Johnnie Chung to David Geffen, they handsomely rewarded their donors with an open door policy.

Now, they obviously can’t do that. And, at this rate, they may not be able to do it again the future either.

Copyright Eileen McGann & Dick Morris 2007

Guess his party

Guess his party

Clarice Feldman
Take a stab. His political affiliation appears nowhere in the story:

A video shown to federal jurors Friday showed an influential ex-legislator reviewing a bill to benefit what he thought was a real company, then taking cash from an undercover FBI agent.
Jurors in former state Sen. John Ford’s corruption trial also heard an audio recording of a telephone conversation from a few days later, when Ford tells the agent how he would introduce the bill.
“I know exactly what to do. You in good hands,” Ford tells the agent, identified in court only by his undercover name of L.C. McNiel.
Prosecutors played the tapes as they tried to prove charges of extortion, bribery and threatening a federal witness in a corruption probe that has also ensnared local officials in Memphis and Chattanooga.

Thomas Lifson adds:

When are newspapers going to realize that they give away their political bias by stupid tricks like this?  Probably never. The propagandist’s impulse is too strong.

Lawmaker blasts Flying Imams’ attorney

Lawmaker blasts Flying Imams’ attorney

That attorney would be CAIR’s Omar Mohammedi, who holds a position as a New York City commissioner on human rights, and should indeed resign, since obviously the human rights of airline passengers to take steps to ensure their safety mean nothing to him.

“Lawmaker blasts imams’ attorney,” by Audrey Hudson in the Washington Times:

The lawyer representing six imams who are suing an airline and unknown “John Doe” passengers should be removed from his position as a New York City commissioner on human rights, said a state assemblyman.”When it comes to suspicious or potentially terrorist activity, New Yorkers are encouraged to say something if they see something,” said Rory I. Lancman, assemblyman from Queens.

“Before they do so, I think they have a right to know that they won’t be sued by their own human rights commissioner, Omar Mohammedi,” said Mr. Lancman.

Mr. Lancman has asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg to demand that Mr. Mohammedi to resign his seat.

Stu Loeser, Mr. Bloomberg’s spokesman, said Mr. Mohammedi is an unpaid employee on the commission and has the right to choose his clients.

Mr. Bloomberg in 2002 appointed Mr. Mohammedi to the commission, which enforces the city’s human rights laws, holds hearings and investigates complaints of racial, religious and ethnic discrimination. It also is empowered to make recommendations to the mayor.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Mohammedi declined to comment, saying, “We’ve already addressed that.”

Oh, address it again.

This is a little something that kinda says alot…without a word…worth the time.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers