Viguerie Conservatives Meet in Phone Booth

Bill Dyer, who like me receives a lot of unsolicited emails from Richard Viguerie, unlike me actually read the latest installment in which it is proclaimed that “Fred Thompson’s record may appear to be ‘conservative,’ but only by comparison with Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, or Mitt Romney.”

Bill nails it in his response:

One of those four men is going to be the Republican nominee for president in 2008. And I’m 98% sure that it won’t be John McCain, so we’re really only talking about three of them. For those of us conservatives who live in the real world (instead of Viguerie’s paranoid fantasy world), we’ll almost certainly be choosing among Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson for the Republican nomination. The winner will be pitted against either Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John Edwards. If the likes of Viguerie can’t get their minds around that — if they can’t recognize that this is a multiple-choice test with a limited number of options — then they’ve guaranteed that they’ll never be more than irrelevant annoyances to the GOP and to national (i.e., non-academic, non-think-tank, and non-consultancy) political conservatism generally.

Quite right. I gather, judging from the headlines of several of Viguerie’s emails, that he favors Ron Paul. The fantasies of a few YouTube fans notwithstanding, Paul isn’t going to be our next president.

Then again, as commenter John points out, living in a fantasy world is nothing new for Viguerie.

In response to conservative activist Richard Viguerie’s May 21 [2006] op-ed in The Washington Post charging that President George W. Bush has “betrayed” the conservative base, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has sent supporters a compilation of Viguerie’s attacks on President Ronald Reagan.

Reagan had been president only seven days when Viguerie compared him to Jimmy Carter, based on his Cabinet selections. The RNC found Viguerie attacks on Reagan throughout his administration, including a 1983 statement that he would not support him for re-election because the president was too soft on the Soviet Union. “The conservative movement is directionless,” Viguerie said near the end of Reagan’s eight years.

A footnote: Opposing President Gerald Ford’s election, Viguerie in 1976 unsuccessfully sought the presidential nomination of the American Independence Party (that had been formed eight years earlier by George Wallace).

If his desire is to sell books — and there’s nothing wrong with that — then he’s on the right path. If he truly wants to influence the conservative moment, though, he should heed the words of one Alan Jackson:

Cowboys don’t cry,
And heroes don’t die.
And good always wins
Again and again.

And love is a sweet dream
That always comes true
Oh, if life were like the movies,
I’d never be blue.

But here in the real world,
It’s not that easy at all,
‘Cause when hearts get broken,
It’s real tears that fall.
And darlin’, it’s sad but true,
But the one thing I’ve learned from you,
Is how the boy don’t always get the girl,
Here in the real world.

It’s well and good to have principles and Viguerie has every right to be disappointed that the plausible nominees are less conservative, by his definition, than he’d prefer. If he’s got a specific alternative in mind, he should, by all means, vigorously tout him — even if it’s Ron Paul. But simply whining about how none of the candidates measure up simply reduces him to the status of crank.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Blogosphere, Political Theory, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I actually almost read that Viguerie e-mail because I found it amusing that most of the Right-O-Sphere seemed to be falling all over Fred and proclaiming him Reagan II, whilst Viguerie was going to say he wasn’t a Conservative.

    Ah well.

    Along with Jackson, don’t forget that 80s philosopher, Huey Lewis: “Ain’t no livin’ in a perfect world, there ain’t no perfect world, anyway.”