I’m new to blogging, so folks will have to bear with me until I get into it in the way that I note others already have …

Although I’m not currently supporting any of the potential Republican presidential wannabes, I was impressed by Fred Thompson’s performance yesterday on "Meet the Press."

The one thing that a conservative might admire about Thompson is his almost ideological belief in federalism … it was a belief that shaped his voting in the Senate and was on display yesterday.

Unfortunately, however, we live in an age when voters and others are far less concerned with means than ends. Thus, right-to-lifers probably won’t react to his belief that abortion policy should be decided by the voters and their elected representatives in the individual states even if that means some states might actually choose policies he finds objectionable given his belief that life begins at conception. Meanwhile, opponents of “gay” marriage will be put off by his refusal to endorse a constitutional amendment defining marriage because he doesn’t think that either is the business of Washington.

Neither does he think it is something the courts should be involved in, and therefore proposes an amendment that would cut them and the feds out and leave the question to the legislatures of the various states. This is similar to a proposal embraced some years ago by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and makes sense to a student of federalism … though perhaps not to those intent upon one-size-fits-all solutions to the nation’s problems.

A debate on the proper role of the federal government in these and other areas — like, say, education — is perhaps long overdue … Maybe Thompson can stimulate such a debate or at least ask candidates like Mike Huckabee where they get off suggesting that the government ought simply to do what they want it to do …

Keene is chairman of the American Conservative Union, whose website can be accessed here.