Campaigns/Elections

Fred Thompson, DOA?

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Slate's John Dickerson discusses the problems with putative potential maybe could-be GOP savior Fred Thompson:

Thompson's chief appeal is emotional. Until now, many conservative Republicans have had to wince when they thought of their plausible presidential choices. Giuliani is too liberal, McCain is too unpredictable and too well-liked by the media, and Romney seems like a flip-flopper on the issues they care about. The possibility of a Thompson candidacy excites the Republicans I talk to. He's an "outsider"-having left Washington for Law and Order before the Beltway rot set in. He's a good communicator, which means he can sell conservative policies and has the star power to battle Hillary or Obama. Though he hasn't been through the press-vetting process, his voting record and talk-radio performances suggest he holds conservative enough positions…..

The myth behind the Thompson quasi-candidacy is a dangerous one that bedevils both parties: If we just get a better communicator, people will love our policies. But once Thompson enters the race, he will have to either embrace or distance himself from GOP policies, which will either ruin his chances in the general election or hurt him with his conservative supporters. In short, he'll become just like any other candidate-something he might not like after such a big buildup.

I daresay the Libertarian Party also sometimes suffers from that belief Dickerson notes–that is, that getting libertarian ideas out there via a skilled communicator is all it takes for the nation to fall in line. Who, after all, doesn't like freedom? Well, depends on what the meaning of "freedom" is….

The Thompson wavelet seems to me a prime example of media and activists needing something new to talk about every few days to stave off the inevitable endgame of repetitious and predictable boredom, in an endless campaign where "every few days" is going to bring us any number of go-nowhere flashes in the pan.