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Fred Thompson
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So he's finally gotten into the race, and I guess it's kind of interesting if it shakes things up. I had heard he was one of the more conservative Republicans in the field, and that generally didn't sound like a good thing.

His new official site looks all right, but it's disturbingly short on position statements. Under the "Principles" section, he's got only one: Federalism. There's a video along with a transcript, and the basic idea is good, that the Federal government should in general be pared down and should cede more rights to states. But what about specifics?

I read an article on-line the day he announced (can't find the link now) that said he wanted to "abolish abortion", though that sounded like it might be an attempt to paint him as a reactionary ultra-conservative. Here's the Wikipedia article on his political positions, along with quotations to try to back up some of the claims.

Most of his economic policy sounds in line with what I like: lower taxes, free trade, etc. I was worried about social issues, but the section on abortion makes him sound a bit schizophrenic on the issue. The National Review actually labeled him "pro-choice" based on some of his comments. And though he's always claimed the label "pro-life", this year he said:

I've always thought that Roe v. Wade was a wrong decision, that they usurped what had been the law in this country for 200 years, that it was a matter that should go back to the states. When you get back to the states, I think the states should have some leeway. I might vote against one approach, but I think the state ought to have it. And I would not be and never have been for a law that says, on the state level, if I were back in Tennessee voting on criminalize a young woman...

Nice trailing quotation, huh? It certainly sounds to me that he wants the legality of abortion left up to the states, but that he personally wouldn't vote to make abortion illegal. From reading that section, it sounds like he supports a woman's right to choose unconditionally in the first trimester, which sounds reasonable to me, but doesn't sound "pro-life". I'd be interested to see how he actually answers the question, along with other lightning rod social issue questions like gay marriage. My guess is that he'll pull the old "We've got more important problems facing this nation" line, and give a mealy response. His website is not a good start in terms of laying out his political views.

And on issues of church and state he apparently said:

Many federal judges seem intent on eliminating God from the public schools and the public square in ways that would astound our founding fathers. We never know when a five to four Supreme Court decision will uphold them. They ignore the fact that the founders were protecting the church from the state and not the other way around.

That's why so many people immigrated here in the face of religious persecution in Europe. Sheesh. This doesn't bely a very good understanding of the motives of the First Amendment, but ah well.

Personally I think he's a bit of a flash in the pan. If he appeals as much as he's supposed to to the conservative base, he'll never get the moderate swing votes. My guess is that when he states stating his actual political positions, he'll be kicked to the curb. I'm still predicting a Clinton/Guiliani match-up, but you never know...

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