Fred Thompson

Our featured Presidential candidate for today is Republican Fred Thompson.

To be honest, I don’t watch Law and Order that much, so I’ve never seen Fred Thompson as Arthur Branch. Apparently, I’ve seen him in some movies, such as The Hunt for Red October and No Way Out, but I don’t remember him. Now that I know who he is, I’ll probably recognize him the next time I watch them. One thing I will say about Thompson’s Law and Order role: I read the article on Art Branch on wikipedia, and I think that he would make a fine justice for the U.S. Supreme Court.

While I’m being honest, let me say that researching this guy in preparing this post was one of the most frustrating exercises I have ever done. I mean, you just can’t pin him down. There are conservatives I respect who love him, and there are conservatives I respect who hate him. As I read his record, there were times when I wanted to break out cheering, saying, “You tell em, Fred!” And then there were times when I threw up my hands asking, “What were you smoking, Fred? Are you sure you’re with us?” And then there were occasions when I just couldn’t figure out what his ideology was.

I could get into a long, drawn-out discussion about whether he is pro-choice or pro-life, pro-immigration or anti-immigration, pro-Nixon-during-Watergate or anti-Nixon-during-Watergate, but I won’t. Wikipedia has documented articles that discuss the various aspects of his record, and the links include his votes on a number of issues. The articles are Fred Dalton Thompson – Wikipedia, Fred Thompson controversies, and Political positions of Fred Thompson. But I would like to discuss some things that stand out in my mind from my research.

First of all, I don’t know every aspect of his record on immigration. Sometimes he voted for amnesty, and sometimes he voted against it. I read the NumbersUSA article entitled All Immigration Votes of Senator Fred Thompson, and I was puzzled that it criticized him for his positions on legal immigration, not just illegal. For example, the author of the article was unhappy that Thompson voted to allow legal immigrants to send for their families. I wonder what exactly motivates most opponents of illegal immigration. Is the focus of their opposition the “illegal” part or the “immigration” part? After all, even legal immigrants come into this country and compete for jobs against people already here. But at least companies cannot pay legal immigrants a dollar an hour. Unlike hiring illegals, hiring legals does not punish competitors who play by the rules in their hiring practices. Another issue is acculturation. I’m not sure to what extent legal immigrants are sufficiently Americanized. Do they all know English and American history? I know many who do, and I saw an episode of Touched by an Angel where candidates for immigration had to take a class. So hopefully that is the case for all legal immigrants. If so, that should alleviate any fear that legal immigration will Balkanize America.

Second, Thompson’s record on taxes and spending appears pretty good, from a conservative point of view. See Fred Thompson’s Generally Pro-Growth Record, which was compiled by the Club for Growth. His record is not perfect, but he has often gone out on a limb to vote against government spending, even when that puts him in a very tiny minority. So this guy is serious, and part of me is scared because of this. I support less government spending, since that is the fiscally responsible thing to do. But I don’t want my student loans to get cut. I’ll admit that the status quo is not good, since colleges and universities increase their tuition when they realize that the government gives out all this money. But I hope that, during a Thompson Administration, there will be state or private means to insure that students are not left out in the cold. Government is clearly not the solution, but there will need to be a time of transition if the student loans program is to be cut, allowing alternatives time to develop.

Third, the confusion of my identity with the James Pate of Soldier of Fortune magazine has led me to some interesting Second Amendment sites. I was reading the Field and Stream blog yesterday, and it included a quote from the Thompson campaign that criticized the UN on gun control. The quote states (in part), “Last year, the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights declared that international human rights law requires all nations to adopt strict gun control laws.” This is egregious! The UN is telling countries what type of gun laws they should have? I originally thought that the idea of a “UN Gun Grab” was Bircher paranoia, but the quote from the Thompson campaign shows me that even more mainstream people are concerned about the audacity of the UN. Despite Thompson’s stand here for national sovereignty, I must add that he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, which some right-wingers see as a promoter of world government. The CFR denies that it is a conspiracy, but I just want to tell you what concerns are out there.

Overall, I like Fred Thompson. His record seems fairly conservative, and I think that he would govern more as a conservative as President than as a liberal. Would I vote for him in the primaries? I’m debating that. I like him better than Rudy and McCain, but there is another candidate I like better. Still, Thompson’s wife went to my alma mater, DePauw University, so that is a plus in his favor!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Candidates, Current Events, Politics, Touched by an Angel. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Fred Thompson

  1. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate that your blog is well-written. It is obvious that you have a penchant for writing, however, I have two major cavils.

    Often your characterizations are over-generalized, displaying an us vs. them mentality. It is obvious that you follow politics, but remember that differing positions are made up of shades–don’t be overly reductionistic. After all, you should show the same grace to the “liberals” that you chide them for not displaying. In other words, be charitable if your religion dictates it.

    Lastly, I understand the economics of why you oppose universal health care–yet, right now our costs eat up 16% of the GDP. The highest of any nation. You can critique other socialist plans, but you should admit that they are cheaper. Cheaper seems better to me, even if I pay the government rather than a private company; cheaper seems better to me even if I have to wait a tad longer for service; cheaper seems better to me especially if I can extend coverage to those who can’t pay (or can’t get covered). The reality hits home, though, when you’ve seen friends and family members lives destroyed because they couldn’t get health care–if you’ve never seen friends and family destroyed through bankruptcy or resort to life-ending decisions than all your commentary amounts to little more than detached, personless commentary. That sounds like Ann Rand to me.

    May I ask you one bald question: has the health care issue ever been personal to you? (Paying a few thousand dollars doesn’t count). A game of ideas devoid of religion, social concern, and charity makes me shudder.

    Yes, I’m a Republican–but the message of Jesus effects this evangelical. I can only appeal to your pity, because I’m sure you’ll have arguments against my numbers.


  2. James Pate says:

    Thanks for your response, anonymous.

    On one level, you are right that I have an “us vs. them” mentality. That’s just where I am right now. Being around liberals in the academic sphere for years has done that to me. There are times when you will see something else in my approach–as when Senator Biden seems more human to me, or when I admit that Obama seems like a good person. You will also see that I acknowledge shades of gray, as with immigration. So both knee-jerk reactions and balance are in my blog, depending on the issue.

    Has health care touched me? Not as much as it has touched others. In the past, my schools gave me health insurance and I didn’t have to pay anything. At HUC, I have to pay for my own health insurance. I went for Anthem for a while, and it was really expensive, so I changed to Golden Rule. I am just starting to use Golden Rule for treatment, since it is cheaper, but it doesn’t cover most of my expenses. I don’t know what would happen to me if I had to go to the emergency room, since I’d have to pay a lot. One person said that it’s cheaper in cases not to have health insurance than it is to have it. So, on some level, your critique is well-taken–there are aspects of my analysis that are detached. But I do live in the real world, facing the high cost of health insurance premiums (which, being a student, eat up a lot of my money, which is why I tried the cheaper route).

    Yes, there are horror stories about health care here, but there are also horror stories about socialized health care. Someone gave me one in commenting on my S-CHIP post. I don’t think that the solution to HMOs in America is to have one big HMO, the federal government. But, don’t get me wrong, I don’t dismiss the existence of problems with the American health care system. There needs to be reform to bring the cost down, but I don’t think that socialized medicine is the answer. I may do a post on this in the future.

    Thanks again for your post. Feel free to stop by in the future.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the comment. Let me pose a hypothetical question to you. Given the fact that countries with socialized medicine are able to do it more cheaply do you think it’s a better model than our present model? Maybe it’s not the answer–but given our alternative, it might be a better answer.

    There’s a particular flaw in your reasoning from personal experience. It is this: insurance companies won’t insure the very sick who can’t be employed. From a company’s perspective they’re not paying insurance; they’re paying for less expensive care. Hence they won’t insure them. In other words, many people don’t have access to insurance because of the intrinsic logic that insurance is designed to make money. Where can they turn? The individual (and close family) must be completely bankrupt. Until you see it happen to someone close to you, you’ll never understand how dramatically this affects people’s lives. A PhD won’t change things (my wife and I are finishing ours from highly respected schools) by allowing you to think a little more clearly. Having to pay a full $5k deductible isn’t too bad compared with a life of total poverty.

    Remember: actual people–not numbers–suffer when they have no recourse, save total bankruptcy (not once, but for the rest of their life).

    Just remember the people of politics. They aren’t numbers or dollar signs.


  4. James Pate says:

    What exactly do you mean when you say that countries with socialized medicine do things more cheaply? Sure, the doctor’s visit is free, but the taxpayers are paying for it. Plus, just because health care is cheaper in other countries does not necessarily means that socialized medicine would be cheaper here. Look at how much Medicare costs, and that doesn’t even cover everyone.

    Yes, I’ve heard of cherry-picking by insurance companies, but you are framing the issue as if we only have two choices: socialized medicine, or the status quo. I’m for neither. I think we should look for ways to brings costs down (e.g., tort reform, import prescription drugs, medical savings accounts, etc.).

    I’m just curious: you said that you are a Republican. Could you possibly explain why. Do you like the Republicans on social/cultural issues (e.g., life) but not fiscal policy? I’m just curious.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Before this snowballs into an all-consuming discussion, induldge me with with a little leeway. I don’t want to prove every single point.

    1. I think it’s a well-established fact that America spends the most (as a % of GDP and total) on health care of any country = 16%. This statistic is repeated ad nauseum, and was in the most recent (or last weeks) Economist. Perhaps it’s due to some of the symptoms you mentioned. My friend who just graduated from THE top-ranked Med school has to pay over 150,000 in malpractice insurance on a 260,000 salary. My assumption is that the government could cut costs in this respect dramatically, and that this money is greater than reckless spending by pharm reps, etc….

    2. As for being a Republican: I’m not a newfangled Rep. jingoist with the matra: “God, gays, and guns” (as the Economist often points out). Rather, I’m for fiscal responsibility, and if our country’s fiscal growth can be best acheived by making health care cheaper than I say “let’s do it.” It’s cheaper in other countries and I don’t know why it wouldn’t be for us. Even Japan with a larger elderly population and greater respect for the elderly doesn’t pay as much.


  6. James Pate says:

    I had an online discussion with this one liberal women (though she was pro-life on abortion) about why health care is cheaper in other countries. She lived in Italy, but now she lives in England. I’ll try to dig that up to see her answer. I vaguely recall that she said doctors elsewhere just are not out to make money like doctors here, and they are rather Spartan in certain aspects of their practice (not the medical part, but in other areas). It may take me a little while to dig that up, but I’ll do it soon.


  7. James Pate says:

    Okay, I asked her why costs are so low in Europe. She responded as follows:

    “I think most of it is just the ‘no frills’ and by that I mean, not even a paper gown!! The doctors don’t have nurses, except the specialists, doctors keep their own files and even make house calls. I think the charge for a house call is 15 euros though, free if you’re on pension. There are no private rooms in the hospital unless you go to a private hospital, otherwise you’re in a ward with about 4-6 others. They serve wonderful meals though!! No fancy offices, no phone calls to remind you of your appointment, though they will call if the doctor is not available and reschedule your appointment. Most people have family to do a lot of what nurses do in hospitals, it’s more like the “old days” in America. There is more responsibility on the patient here, we keep our records/x-rays/blood tests etc, ourselves and bring them in when needed. All of that saves a lot of money I’m sure.”

    I then asked her if Europe has our level of technology. She said:

    “Yes, but not as numerous. You have to got to certain centers. France would be the most advanced. I’m not sure if Japan is socialized or not, but their technology exceeds the US.”


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