A metastrategical look at 2008

Chad the Elder gets half the point:

The recent backlash against the Fred Thompson boomlet has often consisted of gross simplification and misreading of Republican voters’ intentions and political sophistication. Supposedly, the people who support Thompson are projecting all their hopes and desires for a perfect president onto Thompson. They’re not looking realistically at Thompson’s strengths and weaknesses. They want another Reagan and so they’re suspending their disbelief and wishfully seeing Reagan in Thompson.

This “When it’s almost closing time your beer goggles make Amy Klobuchar look like Amy Acker” theory to explain Fred Thompson’s support doesn’t hold water with me. Most Republicans are sober enough to know that Thompson is not the next Reagan. But what he is isn’t as important as what he isn’t.

He’s not Mitt Romney and he’s not Rudy Giuliani. I think a lot of Republicans voters have come to the realization that Romney and Giuliani are the only viable options at this point and they’re looking for a third choice.

Look, I was one of the first to point out that Giuliani, McCain and Romney are all hopelessly unviable. I’ve been saying that from the start, and now a number of Republican commentators are finally starting to come around. None of the three can win, because none of them offer any credible differences from Hillary Clinton on any of the primary issues of this election cycle. In an election when the wind is at the Democrats’ backs thanks to the astonishingly incompetent Bush administration, this is fatal. Thus, the enthusiasm for a new mainstream candidate was inevitable.

But Thompson is merely a stylistic change. His policy stances are most similar to McCain, he’s weak on personal liberty and abortion, and he supports the ongoing occupations. And if most Republicans realize that Thompson is not the next Reagan, most Republican commentators don’t seem to have gotten that memo yet.

The Elder, like nearly every other armchair political strategist, doesn’t seem to have grasped that the only Republican who can possibly win in 2008 is one who is both anti-war and anti-immigration. Those are the two biggest issues of the moment and the Lizard Queen has foolishly failed to seal the deal on either of them. If she had taken the lead in opposing the Bush-Kennedy Amnesty act, she’d have all but claimed the Cherry Blossom Throne by now.

I’m not a professional political strategist, and yet my record of political predictions over the last six years is arguably better than most of the professionals. Why? Because I’m a game designer, and you cannot effectively design games without taking a metastrategical approach that encompasses all of the possible strategies that could be applied to the game. That’s why I’m so seldom locked into the conventional analysis.

And what is so blitheringly stupid about the conventional Republican analysis now is that it assumes as a necessity what is a historically anti-Republican view on the part of the Republican base. But pro-war, pro-immigration is a logically and politically untenable position, and yet that is what everyone is assuming the Republican candidate must support. (Yes, Thompson, Giuliani and Romney make enforcement noises, but again, Hillary Clinton is making the same noises, so that doesn’t help them at all.) The war is unpopular. Immigration is hugely unpopular. If you want to win, you should run against both. Mindlessly shouting “but we are at war” isn’t going to be any more convincing to the voters than it was in the 2006 election. At times, I seriously wonder if anyone in the media has a memory that goes back more than a fortnight.

Ron Paul isn’t ideal. If he was younger, a governor and looked like Romney, then perhaps he’d have a good shot at beating Hillary next year. He doesn’t. But as it stands, he’s the Republican with the best shot of not losing in an epic landslide due to his credible immigration and anti-war positions. Fred Thompson, on the other hand, is an optical illusion who will look no better than Romney and Giuliani do now three months after he enters the race.