A few months back I was chatting about the Obama campaign with a liberal journalist who'd been reporting a profile of Sen. John Edwards. For weeks he'd been following Edwards around, meeting people who fell for him in 2004 and still had his back, or people who didn't quite trust Bill Clinton's wife to lead their party into the brightness of tomorrow. They were buzzing about Edwards. And then… Obama put the word out that he might run. Instantly, liberal activists stopped caring about Edwards and starting talking about Obama. It happened so fast that at an AFL-CIO event where Edwards was receiving an award, all the chatter in the audience was about the 18-month senator from Illinois.
Which brings us to Fred Thompson. The political operator-turned-actor-turned-political-operator-again is being courted by bloggers and some mysterious online conservatives to run for president, so disappointed are they in the choices so far. Instapundit points us to the Knoxville News Sentinel, where blogger Michael Silence has been obsessing over the Thompson possibility. I surfed on over to Fred08 to understand the reasons for the Thompson boomlet:
Fred Thompson is a true American statesman and has the experience that matters.
Fred is a real conservative. From tax cuts, to cleaning up government, to his vital role in the confirmation of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Fred Thompson has a record of fighting for conservative values.
Fred has the knowledge and expertise on the issues that matter most in today's world.
Fred Thompson, like Ronald Reagan, has the ability to bring conservative principles to the Oval Office, communicate to Americans, and bring our Nation together.
That's… uh, that's it? Let's see how he checks out on "the issues that matter." Pros:
Voted YES on killing restrictions on violent videos to minors. (May 1999)
Voted YES on school vouchers in DC. (Sep 1997)
Voted YES on drilling ANWR on national security grounds. (Apr 2002)
Voted YES on across-the-board spending cut. (Oct 1999)
Voted YES on welfare overhaul. (Sep 1995)
Good stuff, but not much different than the rest of the GOP field. Cons:
Voted YES on banning "soft money" contributions and restricting issue ads. (Mar 2002)
Voted YES on favoring 1997 McCain-Feingold overhaul of campaign finance. (Oct 1997)
Voted YES on funding GOP version of Medicare prescription drug benefit. (Apr 2001)
Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)
It's starting to sound like he's… a slightly more liberal version of John McCain. We already have a John McCain in the race. What does Thompson bring to the table? Ah, yes: Folksy homespun wisdom. Like this:
I think I get it now: Thompson is a dead-ender on Iraq who hasn't been tarred by the last couple years of debates—he voted for the thing and got out of DC. It makes sense that he's taking activists' attention away from their lame crop of candidates, even though one of them (Rudy) outpolls the Democratic field. He can ride back from over the horizon and resell the war, only do it like, way better than the other guys are doing it.