Reagan’s Ghost Beat Fred

Fred Thompson, in his withdrawal way-out-of-first-place speech, finally looked and sounded presidential. But, alas, his time has finally come, whether or not he wants to realize it—and it’s all Ronald Reagan’s fault.

Thompson reached the most stirring line of his speech this evening when he said that the Reagan coalition was alive and well. If Thompson was right, he would have had more success in this primary race–therefore, he’s totally wrong.

A quick primer on the Reagan Coalition : Three different conservative groups—foreign policy, economic, and social conservatives—all coalesced around one candidate to put him in office for eight years. But if any message has become apparent during this mad primary season, it’s that there isn’t a coalition anymore: It’s every splinter group for itself.

Mike Huckabee courts social conservatives because of his hidden-crosses in political ads. Mitt Romney attracts economic conservatives because the only thing about his candidacy that stays constant is his business background. And John McCain courts foreign policy conservatives because of his Senate experience and military years. Note how those three men won the first three major contests. The coalition is dead. And it’s questionable whether it will show up again in time for the general election.

If Thompson really thought the Reagan Coalition was going to get him elected, then he just wrote his own obituary.