Sunday, January 13, 2008


By popular demand (well, my wife and stepdaughter), I'm reprinting my notorious column about former Senator (and apparent (?) presidential candidate) Fred Thompson.

Fred Thompson: The Republicans' "Great Pumpkin"
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 11:04 AM

Because of the terrible loss suffered by Republicans in 2006 and the current "massacre of the conservatives" (people like John Kyl, Lindsay Graham, Trent Lott, and many others), I've had to do a lot of rethinking about politics. I find the present situation as distressing as anything I've ever encountered. It appears to me that the Party is hell-bent on becoming a permanent minority. The scary thing is that people who differ greatly with me on certain issues (especially immigration) don't dissent from my assessment of the Party's bleak future.

I've been resisting the temptation to write a column critical of Fred Thompson and his "Townhall Essay Campaign." That's where he writes one pedestrian piece after another to delight the easily amused "base." Some people for whom I have genuine affection support Fred -- or at least they support some mirage they assume must be him.

Honestly, I'm not really in the business of intentionally offending people, so I've stayed away from Fred. However . . . I've asked people to read the Wikipedia article (go to and then fill in the name "Fred Thompson"). I realize "Wik" is not the last word on anything. Also, some readers have challenged the objectivity of the piece (as "Wik" notes).

However, the basic facts of the piece are not in dispute. They suggest that Thompson has more political baggage than the U.S. Airways warehouse containing "lost luggage."

Someone recently asked Thompson what he regarded as his major accomplishments during his eight years in the Senate. His response was what journalists call "a long, pregnant pause." He didn't mention the Campaign Finance Reform Bill, which he strongly supported and which has been used in attempts to derail the campaign of John McCain.

When I look at the Thompson campaign, I don't see him as the Republicans' "White Knight." I certainly don't see him as the Second Coming of the Gipper.Instead, I see someone more akin to the Great Pumpkin in "Charlie Brown." As you'll recall, each Halloween Charlie and his friends would wait with great anticipation the arrival of said Pumpkin. However, each year they waited in vain. Fred is the Republican version of the Great Pumpkin. I see Fred Thompson as an old guy who looks and acts his age. He's John McCain without the history of heroism, the commitment to principle, and the feistiness.

Is Thompson truly ready to be the frontrunner in the campaign for the Republican nomination?, citing the dubious Rasmussen Poll, says Thompson is now [remember, this was last June] the leader in a national survey (27% to 23% over Giuliani). Of course, frequent visitors to Townhall recognize the site chooses its polls carefuly so as to reflect its own prejudices.

Townhall used to be a full-time shill for the semi-pathetic Romney campaign, but some people there appear to be switching to Fred.However, as I'm preparing this column, which may have something to offend nearly everyone, I'm listening to the latest Opinion Research Poll.

Since you won't hear anything about it on Townhall, I'll fill you in.Opinion Research shows Giuliani with roughly 29% of the national support from Republicans. Thompson has about 19%, followed by McCain at 18%. Romney is in fourth place at about 14%.

Of course, Townhall will be singing a different story. It will be telling you (less frequently than in the past, perhaps) that "Team Romney" is vigorously enhancing its leadership in the meaningless "Ames Straw Poll." It will be telling you that Romney is doing well -- although not all that well -- in his neighboring state of New Hampshire. On the other hand, it will not be telling you that the New Hampshire primary is looking less and less important to serious candidates [oops, I was wrong there]. It will not be letting you in on the fact that Mitt Romney has spent $21 million on his campaign -- and has almost nothing to show for it.

Also, Townhall will be telling you -- wrongly -- that the McCain campaign is cratering, that he's essentially through as a presidential candidate. What Townhall won't be telling you about its corporate views is that they reflect the triumph of hope over reality. McCain continues, against all odds, to do well in national polls, which show him running neck-and-neck with Thompson -- and far ahead of Th's beloved "Romney."

Apparently, tens of thousands of people visit Townhall on an average day. What I'm suggesting here -- modestly, of course -- that they'd be much better informed if they visited Campaign2008VictoryA.

TH will seek to propagandize you. I won't. It's just that simple.

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