Paul  Weyrich

There are times I am so frustrated I want to scream. Such was the case this past week. I was in a gathering of around twenty well-educated and informed conservatives. The topic turned to the Presidential election. Mind you, I had written months ago that we had best find a candidate who agreed with us and then back him to the hilt. If we did so we might be able to move that candidate to the top tier. It has not happened.

Moreover, exactly what I predicted would happen has taken place. Some of our group is in every camp. The name of Rudolph Giuliani came up. This man takes no position favorable to social conservatives but maybe he would defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton. The same for Senator John S. McCain, III (R-AZ). Different folks in the group knew that McCain would just as soon get rid of the religious right. However, polls suggest he might defeat Hillary. Fear of Hillary is the distinguishing feature of the average and even well educated conservative. Some suggested that Governor Mitt Romney, who has recanted some of his liberal social positions, might be worth a try. That led others to gush forth with a diatribe against Romney. He cannot be trusted, we are told. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) was mentioned. He can't win was the cant. Some mentioned Governor Michael Huckabee (R-AR). He is a spellbinder as an orator. Yes, but we are told by the anti-tax people that he was a terrible Governor. And so it goes. We are in every camp and thus in no camp.

I pleaded with my brethren for us to back as good a candidate as we could find. Even if he didn't win, if he made enough of a showing the wining candidate would make concessions in our direction - perhaps the Vice Presidency, perhaps federal judgeships. Senator J. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) backed Nixon in 1968 with a promised right to veto the Vice Presidential choice slot and Supreme Court nominees. That is how Maryland Governor Spiro T. Agnew got on the national ticket. Unfortunately, Thurmond didn't know much about proposed Supreme Court nominees. Warren E. Burger was sort of okay but Harry A. Blackman, who it was claimed was a Burger twin (the Minnesota Twins), turned out to be a disaster. Today our judicial groups have a far better handle on who is worthy of a Supreme Court appointment.

Some mentioned former Speaker Newt Gingrich. The refrain was that he had not made up his mind to run and maybe would not in 2008. All of these people are looking for another Ronald Reagan. Not to detract from Reagan but he left a bit to be desired, especially on domestic issues. Nevertheless, I'll agree that he is without doubt the greatest President in our lifetime. So what? There is not another Governor Reagan.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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