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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pressing For The Underdog

George Will today presses for a GOP underdog as a person who'd actually be one of the best candidates for the party come 2008.

Tommy Thompson, long time governor of Wisconsin, and former Health and Human Services Secretary seems to have caught Will's eye. It's not a bad eye to catch if you are an underfunded, underknown candidate in a big field of people.

I was a registered Wisconsin voter for quite a few of the years Tommy was in office in the state, and liked a lot of what he did, but not everything. He is a politician, and they always do stupid things.

If you liked the idea of welfare reform at the federal level, thank Tommy, when he proved that "welfare to work" wasn't going to turn every family getting assistance into street people it suddenly became viable at the national level.

If you are a champion of school choice, and need a good example, look at the program he ramrodded through in Wisconsin. Yes, it's had some issues, like all big programs, but has been a success by and large. The biggest group arguing for more choice in the state are inner city poor, who've watched it work for a (legislatively) limited group. The groups fighting it are the teachers unions at the schools those kids go to; they like their captive audience.

Unlike Romney and Guilianni he doesn't have to change stripes on many core conservative beliefs to be electable, he's got a long history of being pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-growth.

He's had a few gaffes of late, making the statement that "making money is a Jewish tradition" to a Jewish group, but the press seems more upset about it than the people he made the joke to. But then again, the press often reminds us of what should offend us, even when it doesn't.

He also did a few things as Governor I didn't like. When Wisconsin allowed Indian gaming he didn't give any legislative oversight to the process. While that seemed to work fine while he was in office, the current governor has shown that it was probably a bad move.

When the state decided to index the gas tax for inflation annually, without a legislative vote and he went along with it, it was a mistake. That's been correct in the last year, but not without a fight.

He also spent a lot of time stringing the state GOP along last year when they were looking for a challenger to Herb Kohl for his Senate seat, waiting until close to the last minute to decide against running. He'd have served folks better had he dropped his name off the list early, and not gone through the speculation process.

His method for trying to win the White House is a little odd. He doesn't have a ton of money, so instead of spending it, and his time in a bunch of states, he's concentrating on winning in Iowa, and using that to move forward in the primaries.

Overall though, if you are looking for an actual conservative candidate, who doesn't have the downside of guys like Brownback and Tancredo, and more leadership experience than say Duncan Hunter (who I'd also have no problem with), Thompson is someone you should probably give a closer look.

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