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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Novak Withdraws the Imprimatur From Thompson

Back in April, I did a NewDonkey post noting a Robert Novak column that put the official Right-Wing imprimatur on the proto-candidacy of Fred Thompson. Indeed, the column was reminiscent of The Novak’s highly influential epistle back in 1998 designating George W. Bush as the “ideological heir of Ronald Reagan.”
Now the Dark One appears to have withdrawn the imprimatur from Big Fred, because of his “astounding lack of sensitivity on abortion,” as reflected in Thompson’s Meet the Press appearance last Sunday.
In Novak’s account, Thompson’s specific sins were (1) a blunt refusal to support a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution, a longstanding demand of the Cultural Right that has been a staple of Republican Party platforms since 1980; and (2) an association with the idea that a reversal of Roe v. Wade might mean a “criminalization” of abortion.
The Prince is definitely right in his political analysis of the price Fred may pay for these comments; he should have known that sounding even vaguely reasonable on the “Holocaust” of abortion is something Republicans only dare essay in general elections.
But the sweeping nature of his excommunication of Thompson made me wonder anew about a Novak column a few weeks ago that read like a valentine to Rudy Giuliani, suggesting that California conservatives weren’t that worried about Rudy’s heresies on social issues.
If Fred’s off-limits for opposing a Human Life amendment, what should cultural conservatives think about a candidate who still supports legalized abortion in its entirety?
I don’t know quite what’s up with Novak, but his column on Thompson did offer one tantalizing hint of the current hard-right zeigeist. After demolishing Thompson, noting Rudy’s pro-choice stance, side-swiping Romney for his late-life conversion to The Cause, and dismissing Huckabee as a member of the “Christian Left,” the Prince of Darkness concludes:

That leaves McCain, no favorite of the right, but the major candidate with the clearest longtime position against abortion.

I don’t want to get into any conspiracy theories here, but it is interesting that Novak penned these words shortly after his fellow Opus Dei convert to Catholicism, Sam Brownback, endorsed McCain over the rest of the field.

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