Will Fred Thompson Be The Death of the Republican Party?
Let’s just start with the acknowledgment that Sally Quinn is always wrong about everything, all the time and go from there.
Her trial balloon about Fred Thompson being a perfect replacement for Dick Cheney, however, brings up some interesting conundrums within the GOP side of the 2008 race. Some like Digby have questioned the wisdom of Thompson embracing the scandals of the Bush administration, saying it’s the kiss of death for his presidential hopes, but I frankly don’t believe this is true. Fred the lobbyist is running toward the base now, the 30% of the country who still think Bush is doing a good job and delusionally cling to every lie he has told them. The pseudo-affable Fred makes them feel good about this, and their little lizard brains which see the world only in terms of white/black, right/wrong do not like to be on the “wrong” end. Fred redeems them by redeeming their faith in Bush.
Others, like Atrios, believe that Thompson stepping into Cheney’s seat would be good for the Republican party. I don’t think this will happen for a minute — Cheney is way too powerful — but I actually think letting Thompson in would be like opening the doors to a Trojan Horse. There are indications that Thompson will continue to run toward the base and campaign on immigration reform, which might be a very successful tactic right now for him personally but could signify the death knell of the Republican party in the future. American Hispanics hold a variety of views with regard to immigration reform based on age, sex, economic status and other factors, they are hardly monolithinc on the topic. But they do know abject racism when they see it, and thanks to the host of ugly, race-baiting ads that they were exposed to when folks like Simon Rosenberg put them on Univision during the last election, there will be no doubt about what Thompson and his followers are trying to do, no matter how they speak about it. The dog whistles will be heard loud and clear and the GOP will likely be doomed to the fate of Pete Wilson.
It would, however, be a powerful lure to those who were willing to overlook Giuliani’s tepid support for some kind of reproductive choice (even though his history is not much different than Thompson’s) based on the fact that he stands, at present, the best chance of delivering the white house to the GOP in 2008. Because as I’ve argued before, they really don’t care about poor little fetuses, but they really, really don’t like dirty “illegals.” Thompson just might take Rudy’s candy away with such a tactic.
But this brings me in a round about fashion to something I’ve been pondering for a while. Why is Bush getting so worked up about the failure of the immigration bill, as evidenced by his pissy YouTube above? As Tom Schaller has pointed out, the future of the Republican party, demograhically speaking, depends on their ability to appeal to Hispanic voters (which is why if Thompson runs on immigration, he’ll be doing it on the back of the party). Does Bush really care about the party so much that he’s willing to keep bringing the issue up over and over again, even though it cuts into his support among the base every time he does it? Does he consider this his legacy? Is it because it’s his only domestic policy issue that is not DOA? The most convincing reason I’ve heard comes from Swopa, who said (via email) “Recall that when this bill started to move forward, the Bushites spun it as proof to the press that he was getting his mojo back. Oooops.”
If you look to ego as a prime motivating factor with regard to everything Bush does, you usually won’t go far wrong.
But if Bush really does care about seeing some sort of corporate-friendly immigration reform passed, and Thompson’s presidential hopes are going to beat loggerheads with this, it seems to put the two on a collision course that would doom any hope Thompson would have of taking Cheney’s place.
Which would mean once again, that Sally Quinn is wrong about everything, all the time.