Friday, September 14, 2007

Fred Thompson Will Do Just Fine

The more I read about Presidential candidate Fred Thompson, the more I like him.

I'll let TIME do the talking:

"Even before his Law & Order depiction of district attorney Arthur Branch, Thompson nearly always played variations on the same character — a straight-talking, tough-minded, wise Southerner — basically a version of what his supporters say is his true political self..."

For Conservative stalwarts, particularly those aligned most closely with the religious right, Fred Thompson is seen as somewhat of a savior. The three other front-runners in the race for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain, were all unappealing to the Southern GOP and evangelicals for a number of different reasons. (Romney is a Mormon, Giuliani is pro-choice, McCain has long been rhetorically antagonistic to religious conservatives)

So when it became clear the Fred Thompson was going to declare his candidacy, many GOPers rejoiced. Here's another TIME headline:

"Is Fred Thompson the G.O.P.'s Savior?"

Many polls over the last several months have documented Republican voter dissatisfaction with their current slate of candidates. This is one of the reasons, perhaps, that Rudy Giuliani has held the lead in the nomination battle in spite of a set of socially liberal views on homosexuality and abortion and a dramatic personal life that would normally make a candidate an anathema to conservative voters. Thus, with Fred Thompson officially declaring his candidacy, recent polls have shown that he has now surpassed Giuliani to lead the Republican field.

So should Democrats cower that the Republicans have discovered the next Ronald Reagan?

Well, I certainly hope that the Republicans think they've found the next Ron Reagan.

But Democrats probably shouldn't be cowering.

Fred Thompson ain't quite right, y'all. He says some pretty bizarre things.

Last week, I discussed one of them. Candidate Thompson was quoted that Iraq possessed WMDs prior to invasion, an outright lie, since in fact, we have learned that this justification for war was based on false or faulty intelligence.

Today, Fred Thompson is in Miami, talking to the Cuban community there. It seems he is doing some damage control relating to a silly statement he uttered in late June:

"We're catching, over a period of years, thousands of illegal immigrants coming from southern borders that are non-fence-able. Many of them come from terrorist-related states. We were just talking earlier, and I remember the figure that stuck out to me -- in the year 2005, we apprehended over 1,000 folks that originally has come from Cuba. If they're coming from Cuba, where else are they coming from? And I don't imagine they're coming here to bring greetings from Castro. We're living in the era of the suitcase bomb."

Apparently, it didn't occur to Thompson that it might not be accurate to insinuate that Cubans are coming in droves with suitcase bombs to kill Americans. While his later statement sought to clarify the insinuation by explaining that he had been referring to the risk of Castro-sent spies with suitcase bombs, there is still very little to substantiate the claim.
If Fred Thompson is going to hinge his campaign on convincing Americans to be fearful of immigrant spies with suitcase bombs, I think Democrats are going to have a pretty good chance at taking the White House.

Meanwhile, while Fred has sought to appeal to social conservatives as the grassroots base of his campaign, he has also taken no action to dampen stories about his playboy past.

That linked article, from the Iowa Independent, refers to Thompson's current wife, as his "trophy wife," because she is 24 years his younger. A number of other sources in the media have referred to her as this as well and there has been some degree of controversy about the sexist nature of the term itself. That debate seems somewhat irrelevant in this context now, because, as it turns out, Jeri Thompson plays a huge role in the direction of her husband's campaign.
This comes from the above link:

Mr Thompson, 64, a former senator and actor who is running second in most polls of Republican nominees even before he has officially declared his candidacy, last week replaced his campaign manager in a shake-up of his top team - which, it has emerged, was initiated by his wife.

Another senior aide quit after clashes with Mrs Thompson, a youthful-looking 40, who is in effect managing her husband's White House bid and has hiring and firing authority over staff, according to campaign insiders.

The upheavals have highlighted the key role of Mr Thompson's second wife, a lawyer and Republican political operative widely believed to have encouraged him to enter the fray. As her husband's de facto campaign manager, Mrs Thompson has the greatest hands-on role of any spouse in the presidential campaign, even though she has so far steered well clear of the political hustings.

Despite her political pedigree as a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, her sway over day-to-day operations is troubling some of her husband's supporters. "I do worry that Jeri is the one really running his campaign," said a Republican in Congress who describes himself as "likely" to support Mr Thompson. "She's smart, but that could be a recurring problem."

Additionally, apparently Fred Thompson was an undistinguished Senator that didn't like to work very hard. That link includes a quote from the president of the American Conservative Union, David Keene, who said that "the book on him is he's lazy."

In total, nothing I've listed here by itself makes Fred Thompson any more incompetent or unqualified than any of the other potential Republican nominees. Yet, it certainly is interesting to see this man under the microscope now that he has finally made the official announcement of his candidacy. If he continues to impress Republican primary voters by making ridiculously alarmist or inaccurate statements about terrorism and immigration while remaining without substance on a wide variety of issues, then I have to say I'm looking forward to his defeat in November of 2008.

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