March 15, 2007
In today's Washington Post, David Broder offered several reasons why reports of the Grand Old Party's imminent demise may be way off base. He notes that President Bush still enjoys strong support from within the party, even though the vast majority of other Americans hold a sharply negative opinion of him. True, Republicans are not particularly enthusiastic about the current crop of presidential candidates, but the real campaign is still a long ways off. As Broder writes, "the only thing we know for certain about the 2008 election is that we know none of the vital facts that will determine its outcome." Actually, I would disagree. We do know for certain that the party has lost its sense of direction, and there is a fierce struggle among various factions to define what "conservative" means in the 21st Century, and to what extent the party should either stress its conservative roots, or else make compromises on its principles for the sake of a few extra votes. During the next 16 months until the 2008 Republican National Convention, we will witness a momentous phase of collective soul-searching, interspersed by frequent trivial distractions along the campaign trail.
I've heard chatter lately about the possibility that Fred Thompson might run for president. I like him a lot, and ranked him second behind Newt Gingrich on Jan. 13 (including unannounced prospects), but the latest Gingrich confession of marital infidelity makes him much less appealing to social conservatives. Meanwhile, moderate Sen. Chuck Hagel made a fool of himself with an aborted "major announcement," and I can't see how he could win very many Republicans' votes, in any case. I say, Fred's the one!