May 31, 2007
Yesterday, I suggested that Fred Thompson would be this campaign's Wes Clark: A savior candidate whose very best day was the one before he announced for president. But today, I see that Ross Douthat is rather bullish on Thompson's chances, and he makes some points that make me doubt my judgment in the matter:
Thompson has one thing going for him that Clark didn't: He's a savvy politician, not a wide-eyed neophyte, and he clearly knows a thing or two about running for office. His non-campaign campaign to win the conservative base's heart - from the radio commentaries to the anti-Michael Moore YouTube bit - has been smarter politics than almost anything else we've seen from the Republican field so far, and it suggests that Thompson understands the voters he's trying to woo in a way that many of his rivals don't.
That makes sense, and dovetails with the interesting parts of Thompson that I haven't thought about terribly hard. The guy has spent quite a bit of time deep in the conservative movement, guest-hosting talk radio shows, getting to know the base. He'll know how to resonate with his voters in a way McCain and Romney won't, and Clark didn't (Remember when Clark ham-handedly sought to appeal to the pro-choicers by suggesting that it's the woman's decision up to the point of birth?). I'm still unconvinced that Thompson won't flinch before the lights of the presidential race, but as a campaigner, he does have some advantages that may prove formidable.
May 31, 2007 | Permalink
His positions are pretty much identical to John McCain's. Why get Thompson when you can have McCain? And why does Thompson get a pass when McCain doesn't? Is it becuase McCain led on those issues whereas Thompson just voted with him?
But then why would we want the follower rather than the leader?
Posted by: Adam Herman | May 31, 2007 3:18:45 PM
Maybe we could draft Sam Waterston?
Posted by: terryinaz | May 31, 2007 3:28:21 PM
Once people begin to scratch under the surface of Hollywood Fred's past it will become more than clear that Fred Flintstone has more creditability. The country boy which Hollywood portraits himself will come crashing down when people lean he's been a hack lawyer for inside the beltway, highly paid lobbyist,
and left his wife of 25 years and married a woman 25 years younger than him and last but not least of all he took his new bride on a honeymoon in the south of France. Country boy's don't that.
Posted by: Ken | May 31, 2007 3:31:20 PM
So, Fred has some appeal to a freaked out GOP base that is clearly unhappy with the choices so far. How would he do in a general? We blog rats tend to forget sometimes that a big chunk of voters, the deciding chunk maybe, tend to cast their votes based on the barest shreds of information and a whole lot of gut reaction. Would Fred be a formidable candidate against Obama or Hillary, for instance?
Ken points out some pretty substantial stuff about the man's personal resume, but we know that the GOP base has a pernicious ability to blind themselves to those things when they want to. So how do those things shake out in a general? Creepy old skirt chaser vs. $400 haircut? I'm dreading this already.
Posted by: sprocket | May 31, 2007 4:19:37 PM
I think Thompson's gonna win, and I think he's gonna be a formidable general election candidate. As I say often on this blog and others, the most under-discussed, under-valued variable in election coverage is talent. Thompson has it.
And compared to Rudy McRomney, he looks pure to conservatives.
And his years and years of lobbying won't hurt him in a GOP primary.
Skeletons, though? We'll see. I assume that the women have been given sufficient hush money.
Posted by: davidmizner | May 31, 2007 5:52:50 PM
I expect that Fred Thompson will be the next president of the United States of America, because the universe hates me that much.
Posted by: Paludicola | May 31, 2007 6:10:30 PM
I don't think the base cares that much that he left his wife of 25 years to marry a younger woman - so many of their faves have also done the same thing. What they won't be able to forgive him for is the way she looks. Way too Anna Nicolish for the heartland.
Posted by: dianne | May 31, 2007 7:25:02 PM
I think Thompson's Reaganesque qualities are things that Democrats ignore at their peril - he could be very convincing, very appealing to the base, and effective on the stump. Still, a good salesman for the GOP won't mean much, if what he's got to sell is the same old same old, even in fresh packaging. He does not seem especially different in viewpoint from others in the running, and he too will need to do various things to appeal to the base that will make it harder for him to remain appealing if he makes it to the general. He's not Rudy Giuliani; but oddly, I think Giuliani may be the one thing Thompson is not necessarily well positioned to run against... their fight would come down to a North/South argument (socially liberal but tough as nails northeasterner vs. glad handy good old boy with southern base appeal). In which case it seems to me the deciders are Western Republicnas, which seems hard to predict to me. But mainly, it's still way early to say how this shakes out; I think Thompson has some momentum and curb appeal. Can he build on it? We'll see.
Posted by: weboy | May 31, 2007 8:00:06 PM
If I were a Republican, this would be a happy happy day. Thompson is solidly Republican - he hates female sexuality, homosexuals, and foreigners as much as the next GOP neanderthal - and he's got that good ol' boy BS down better than George W. himself.
And Wolf Blitzer informed me the other day that Fred Thompson is a "movie star" and a "Washington outsider."
We should probably start psychologically preparing ourselves for President Thompson.
Kill me now.
Posted by: Jason | May 31, 2007 9:43:14 PM
I say bring him on.....
The same old Repub message wrapped in a "pretty" package is not going to fool the millions of independents who have watched the Repub party destroy this country over the last 6 years..
"Fool me once (Bush 2000)....Shame on you
Fool me twice (Bush 2004)....Shame on me.
Independents and some Repubs wont be fooled again.
This proves yet again Repubs value style (Thompson's height(?) and voice of authority, Romney's "good looks", and Rudy's 6 hours in the spotlight on 9/11) over substance
Posted by: Lib4 | Jun 1, 2007 12:25:22 AM
Fred Thompson is more of the same, and no matter how well he sells it, it's not going to go over unless the Democratic nominee runs one of the worst campaigns ever.
McCain is the only one that truly has a shot, because he's mostly immune to being tied to Bush. Sure, he's tied to Bush's war, but voters at least sense that he's sincere and cares about the troops and their families. He's also not the same old Republican.
Posted by: Adam Herman | Jun 1, 2007 8:15:09 AM
Name one GOP movie star that lost a race. I'm very sorry, but what you have here in Thompson is a ramp-up of Bush's policies wrapped in the illusion of competence, pleasing all the folks that want to believe the war was winnable. And the hot young wife makes his looming, cancer-ridden death a non-issue. Coupled with a little star power and the ability to deliver a half-witty comeback with a withering stare, that means trouble.
Get ready for "Swartzenegger 2: Electric Boogaloo."
Posted by: Jim 7 | Jun 1, 2007 11:08:29 AM
Thompson is a quitter..I remember some lame statement to the effect that somethings were impossible to achieve in congress and he was not seeking reelection to the senate..what makes anyone believe he would do any better as president..The country needs someone with a plan that is not up to their eyeballs in corporate funding.....seen one lately?
Posted by: tomsr | Jun 1, 2007 2:05:40 PM
He's an empty suit, but he'll get fawning media coverage. Imagine the contrast in media coverage if it's Hillary Clinton vs. Fred Thompson. I wouldn't count out the Republicans in 2008 entirely. I'm not particularly impressed with the political savvy of the average American voter.
Posted by: Gus | Jun 1, 2007 5:00:03 PM
Posted by: judy | Oct 6, 2007 12:02:18 AM
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