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May 30, 2007

He's No Al Gore

I have no particular proof for this claim, but my sense is that Fred Thompson missed his moment. Various GOP contenders have performed well in recent debates and campaign stops, their flaws have been absorbed by the electorate, and I'm just not hearing the same search for a savior I once was. Indeed, I agree with Jason Zengerle, who suggests Thompson will prove a Wes Clark figure, though I think even that may overstate his appeal. He'll have a blip of buzz, to be sure, but my guess is he'll rapidly sink into the second tier, and remain there. Come the first debate, his challenge will unite the main three, as he poses the same threat to each of them. That he dropped out of political life after 9/11 will not look good when stacked against the recent service of those across from him on the stage.

May 30, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

I think there is something ... I'm not sure what ... to the fact that he's winning all of these straw polls. Republican activists are PO'ed, and they're using Thompson to express it.

That said, I agree with you that Newt is more likely to capitalize on this anger, admit the error of his ways in the '90s, and promise to return to core Republican principles.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | May 30, 2007 7:04:33 PM

Fred Thompson don't take a dump without a plan, son.

Posted by: Matt | May 30, 2007 7:11:55 PM

gee, a Republican candidate without any substance or intellect, but who can play the role well...what a novel approach.

Posted by: della Rovere | May 30, 2007 7:24:15 PM

Yeah. He's benefiting from the Republican dissatisfaction with their Big 3, and the hope that he'll be the man on the white horse who'll rescue the party in 2008. But now that he's in, he'll have to start taking positions and responding to criticism and having his statements and gaffes and background pored over by his opponents. By January, he'll look like damaged goods, same as the rest of the field, and he hasn't spent the last year building a base and fundraising and putting together an organization.

Plus, his political chops aren't that impressive. He hasn't run a contested race in 11 years, and his Senate record was pretty thin (remember how the Clinton/China hearings were going to vault him to national prominence? yeah). He has that folksy downhome charm thing, but I suspect it'll wear quite thin by the time the primaries rolls around.

Posted by: FMguru | May 30, 2007 8:05:17 PM

He should have a problem because he dropped out of public life after 9-11?

Um, Rudy Giuliani? He was out of offce less than 3 months after 9-11. Where he went into business with his good buddy, crooked mob guy Bernie Kerik. He didn't just make money "consulting" with Bernie, he made it gvng speeches about 9-11. Making millons off the dead really pissed off the thousands of firefighters who he prevented from recovering the bodies of their fallen brothers. They couldn't bury them, but Rudy didn't care--as long as he could sell them!


Granted, Rudy didn't retire gracefully lke Washington. Instead, he tried to demand we cancel the election and appoint him mayor for...well, as long as he wanted. And then he threatened to throw new york's election law into a constitutional crisis unless he was gven what he wanted. It wasn't until the state stepped in and made it clear that they'd prevent him from making good on his threat that he finally backed down.

So, no, I don't thnk leaving public life after 9-11 should be a special problem for Fred Thompson.

Posted by: anonymous | May 30, 2007 8:21:26 PM

Remember all of the repubs on the stump in 1999 -2000? And remember how fast the field cleared and everyone jumped on the Bush II bandwagon?
It won't take long for the repugs realize they will need to gather round someone who has a chance in the general election.
Thompson can play the president, Americans including dems have no problem voting for image over competence.

Posted by: CParis | May 30, 2007 8:35:57 PM

CParis is closest to my feelings on Thompson. Except that Reagan actually, you know, governed in CA - so to speak.

But, someone will benefit from the drawing together of the behind-the-scenes king makers (KMs) in the GOP, as GW Bush did. They have proved they can make a president out of a horse-turd (did I say horse - GW is deadly afraid of horses).

Somehow I don't get the sense that Rudy or McCain is a king-makers-pawn kind of pick - and McCain clearly can't serve two terms (if even one) without following Reagan into the dark night of brain deterioration (without a Nancy).

So, will the KMs fix on Thompson or Romney? My bet is that Thompson passes their consistent fool test, whereas Romney won't.

Meet your new President: Fred Dalton Thompson. You know this is so when Karl sends Tim Griffen into the battle as Thompson's lie-shaper. Vote rigging to follow, along with maybe a little more war as a side dish.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | May 30, 2007 9:17:55 PM

If Thompson announces around July 4th, and Judge Reggie Walton releases a fawning letter from him saying 'poor ol' Scooter, he done no wrong' on July 5th, it could be a remarkably short run.

Though the gossip around Oppo Boy Tim Griffin, the man sent by Rove to Arkansas, is fascinating.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | May 30, 2007 10:37:41 PM

The only rational choices for the GOP are Giuliani or Thompson (and Huckabee if you dip down into the second tier, which doesn't seem likely). Romney would lose by 100 electoral votes at least and McCain is basically Bob Dole redux with the animosity of many of the party faithful to boot. Giuliani is their best bet electorally but is perhaps unacceptable to too many cultural conservative types. Enter Fred Thompson, who has broader appeal than McCain or Romney, and who is acceptable to Republicans of every stripe. Plus he gets great press.

Thompson is really their best option; if I were a Republican, I would want him to be the nominee more than any other top-tier candidate. (Huckabee would be my first pick in this alternate universe.) Of course, the GOP doesn't always nominate their best bet - e.g. Dole. But if they're smart, they'll pick Thompson.

Posted by: Jason | May 31, 2007 12:03:51 AM

I agree, Thompson is a pretty good choice for GOP-- a plausible alpha male, plus a "good guy" type person that people will project their hopes onto. His folksy personality will be the shield that allows him to say different things to different people -- or say nothing at all.

One would hope Democrats would be able to push the idea that an apparently positive personality is not enough in a president (witness GWB, who as it turns out wasn't a very good guy after all)

Posted by: mk | May 31, 2007 1:15:16 AM

Welcome Fred! And thank you GOP! You guys had me worried there for a minute. For a minute I thought you were thinking clearly and were going to nominate Giuliani. But whatever mass psychosis has been afflicting you since 2005 appears to be well in place.
A President now widely recognized as a complete reactionary is struggling to crack to 35%, and you were about to nominate a candidate with an image as a social moderate and that pragmatic scent that only successful mayors can emit. The one election in which pro-choice groups could legitimately rouse the base by telling them, truthfully, that a Republican president would mean the end of Roe (Stevens is 87, people!), and you were about to nominate a candidate who is at least nominally pro-choice. Hillary carrying a double-digit lead in the primaries, and you were about to nominate a candidate to whom "liberalish" men with hang-ups about women could flock without guilt. And most of all, with an electoral map that hinges on, oh, about 40 swing electoral votes, you were about to nominate a candidate that could have taken fucking New York. Think about that, a Republican who is a threat in New York. If the nominee were anyone but Hillary (and lord I hope it is for the sake of the general election), that would have been crushing.
But no, you took a good long hard look in the mirror and said, I want to nominate an ultra-conservative, untested, generic republican with all the gravitas of a TV celebrity, in the most liberal electoral environment since Watergate. And he doesn't even have foreign policy experience!
Congratulations on sticking with the crazy that got your here. I knew you had it in you.

Posted by: RW | May 31, 2007 1:16:03 AM

They are indeed unwise not to nominate Rudy, but the cultural conservatives have to draw a line somewhere or risk permanent irrelevance. If the GOP runs a pro-choicer and wins an election that they have no business winning, it could be a while before you see another anti-choice nominee.

Posted by: Jason | May 31, 2007 8:30:26 AM

Frankly, given the Republicans' record since 9-11, it may not be that much of a hindrance that he wasn't in the limelight.

Posted by: Nick | May 31, 2007 8:33:46 AM

It's too late for Thompson. The big-money people have coalesced around Romney. He'll be the nominee.

Posted by: Jose Padilla | May 31, 2007 8:43:15 AM

But... but... but... he rents a pickup truck! And it's red, people!

Posted by: Cyrus | May 31, 2007 8:51:19 AM

No rethug candidate is better suited to play the role of the next president than fred "fake admiral-fake district attorney" thompson.

Posted by: ice weasel | May 31, 2007 10:22:36 AM

Anyone who doesn't think the Fred is a serious contender with a real chance for the nomination has a very poor understanding of the GOP. McCain and Romney are both fading, and as others have pointed out, there is a certain degree of discomfort with Giuliani, although much more from the libertarian perspective then the social conservative one. Gun control is a big issue here.

Enter Thompson, charismatic, well known and with fairly good conservative credentials. He may not win the nomination, but he has a very good chance at it.

Posted by: Dave Justus | May 31, 2007 12:19:39 PM

Wes Clark? Huh?

Thompson doesn't have the deer-in-the-headlights look on TV, like Clark; Thompson has campaign experience, unlike Clark; Thompson has a much more sophisticated fundraising apparatus; Thompson has a natural, geographic "base" -- the South -- unlike Clark.

How well did you think this blog item through before you wrote it?


Posted by: Ed | May 31, 2007 12:19:53 PM

It's all about the money, folks. When the top corporate money-raiser emerges, watch all the others get tossed under the bus. It will be Romney for the GOP. This is why the Democrats nominated Kerry and not Dean in '04, and why the Republicans ended up with GWB in 2000. Neither side has learned about the real meaning of people power yet, as Hillary remains the Democrats' leading candidate.

I wish I could say it would be different, but it won't be. Hillary vs. Romney. Bank on it.

Posted by: Rick | May 31, 2007 4:44:09 PM

Rick, why didn't Phil Gramm get the Republican nomination in 98 then?

Posted by: Don | May 31, 2007 5:22:08 PM

96

I hate sleep deprivation

Posted by: Don | May 31, 2007 5:23:11 PM

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Posted by: judy | Oct 6, 2007 12:03:05 AM

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