Not only has Tom Tancredo exerted the greatest leverage of any Coloradan who ever ran for President. His endorsement of Mitt Romney is one of the most important the former Massachusetts governor has received, and it couldn't come at a better time for Romney's embattled campaign. Tom's backing will help Mitt say, "See, I'm your guy," to voters leaning toward all his major rivals in Iowa, New Hampshire, and the other early states. Against Huckabee, Romney can use the endorsement to show he's acceptable to a leading evangelical congressman and to heighten the contrast between his tough immigration position and Huck's mushy one. Ditto, as far as immigration is concerned, for Romney's urgent task of blunting the McCain surge in both Iowa and NH.
Thompson arguably has a purer hardline stance on securing the border than Romney does -- yet Mitt can now say that Mr. Immigration himself, Tancredo, looked the field over and picked him, not Fred. Likewise, Giuliani is unmatched in talking about taking the fight to the terrorists -- yet Tancredo, the most candid of them all in calling out radical Islam (think of his shopping-mall ad and his comments about bombing Mecca), didn't sign up with Rudy. No, the big Tank wheeled in alongside Romney's Rambler.
So there had to be joy in Mittville today. There should also be pride and gratitude in Tomtown. As many others have said, Tancredo put the illegal immigration crisis smack in the middle of this presidential campaign -- for both parties, no less -- when it was being ignored before he got in the race, and would likely still be ignored today had he not gotten in. He took on what Albert Jay Nock in a classic 1936 essay called "Isaiah's Job," the lonely prophetic task of saying what no one else will say at a critical time. As Nock imagines the Lord telling poor Isaiah back around 700 BC:
"There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it."
Tom Tancredo is my congressman and my friend. I hoped he would run for president, and wrote an early column predicting it. I've used this blog to cheer for him and sometimes to chide him. I sent him a biggish check, and Romney a smallish one, and they are the only two candidates I've donated to this year. On this day, his 62nd birthday, and on Tuesday, Christmas with his well-loved family, Tom deserves to feel much satisfaction that the battle -- this round of it, anyway -- is over for him, for now, and that it has sharply awakened our political elites, as he hoped it would, to what the preservation of nationhood requires. Job well done, Isaiah.