A few weeks ago, I came out and said I was going to vote for Fred Thompson in New Hampshire’s presidential primary, and I did.
For all the good it did. Fred’s hung it up.
I’m disappointed. Thompson, I thought, was the best potential president out of the lot. He had a firm grasp of federalist principles — knowing what was and was not the business of the federal government — and a refreshing honesty and candor. John McCain calls himself a “straight talker,” but it was Thompson who went to Michigan and essentially said (to steal the precise phrasing from Bruce Springsteen) “these jobs are going, boys, and they ain’t coming back.”
I find myself very discouraged that the man who I thought best suited to BE president was also least suited to RUN for president. I think that says something very sad about our electoral process.
Luckily for me, I gave myself a bit of cover last week, when I wrote about how I have a sliding scale of preferences for president, and didn’t lock myself into a “my guy or nobody” position. So with Fred gone, I slide down from my “I’d like to see this person as president” to my next position, the “I think they’d do OK as president.” At the time, I put Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani in that slot.
Of the two, I’m going to give my preference to Mitt Romney.
Romney has a lengthy record in private industry, being a latecomer to government service. And his record in business is exemplary. The guy knows money, knows work, and knows how to fix broken systems.
Politically, he’s bounced around a bit, but overall I agree with most of what he’s done. He’s a Republican who was elected governor in the bluest of blue states, and did all right there. Most importantly, though, he learned how to deal with a legislature that was controlled by the opposition. I think it likely that the Democrats will retain control of at least one house of Congress in November, and Romney spent his entire four-year term with overwhelming majorities in the Massachusetts legislature — the latter half with his fellow Republicans holding less than 15% of either house.
One aspect that does trouble me is his personal life. The man seems to have no personal peccadilloes. The last time we had someone so squeaky-clean, we got Jimmy Carter.
But Romney is nowhere near as sanctimonious, as petty, as gratingly annoying as The Saint From Plains. He’s had to deal with the rough-and-tumble worlds of business and of Massachusetts politics, and that has to have left him with a healthy streak of pragmatism.
Oh, and let’s get one thing out of the way: yes, he’s a Mormon. Yes, Mormonism has some pretty odd, kooky, and downright silly beliefs. Big whoop. I don’t care. He isn’t running for Pope of America, for some kind of theocrat, but Chief Executive. He’s a practicing Mormon, he’ll most likely remain one, but I don’t see him trying to get Joseph Smith added to Mount Rushmore or writing the Book of Mormon into the Constitution.
So go, Mitt! Just focus more on being yourself, will ya? This sort of thing is downright embarrassing for us white folks.