Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Late-Breaking Thompson Surge in Iowa?

Well, that's the rumor from Zogby polling.

Musing on the Thompson campaign, there was an interesting post earlier this week by Paul Marks at Samizdata: "Fred Thompson: Too Sane to Be President?"

Marks writes that the media equates a passion for campaigning with a passion for governing and serving one's country -- I'd note that "Campaign Carl" Cameron of Fox News has been particularly derisive of Thompson in this regard -- but that they're actually two different things.

Marks: "But what sort of person is passionate about the political process? Not getting things done - but the process of gaining votes. Of going around pretending to be close personal friends with lots and lots of people one has never met before?...But what sort of person would enjoy all this?

"A lunatic. Someone who was interested in office for its own sake - not as a means to reduce the size and scope of government."

(Along those lines, Rich Lowry mused that Fred may be one of the few politicians who is an introvert.)

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit commenting on the Samizdata piece: "Thompson is running the kind of campaign -- substantive, policy-laden, not based on gimmicks or sound-bites -- that pundits and journalists say they want, but he's getting no credit for it from the people who claim that's what they want."

I was interested to read a post by Joe Carter, a blogger who just left the Huckabee campaign after a brief stint, who rather snarkily asserted of Thompson supporters: "In their view Fred should be able to just skip this whole election nonsense and go directly to the coronation ceremony. Fortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Most of us want a President who doesn’t think its 'pandering' to actually care what we think."

I think Carter's got it really wrong here. The first part of his statement is just plain silly and rude, and as far as finding out what people think, there aren't any politicians traveling all over California to find out what I think...nor will they. It is pandering to treat the citizens of two states differently from the rest of the nation.

And I don't think a politician who has core political principles is going to be swayed by talking to citizens about what they think -- nor should he be. The politician should clearly state his principles and how he would govern, and hopefully not have a history of flip-flopping that makes one doubt that the candidate means what he says. Then in response the voters show what they "think" at the ballot box.

I noted recently that I find the primary process antiquated and unreasonably slanted toward a small portion of the population: "A politician slogging around Iowa in a bus for months on end conveys nothing to me about his political philosophies or his ability to serve effectively. It's simply 'the way it's always been,' and members of the media aren't happy when someone does things a bit differently and isn't always there to spoon-feed them material to broadcast or publish." Then those members of the media show their displeasure by giving the politician bad -- or not as much -- coverage.

The number of Republicans caucusing in Iowa will probably be fewer than the number of people sitting in the Rose Bowl yesterday, yet somehow they're the ones "coronated" to play a significant role in choosing the candidate for the entire country?

Hopefully this aspect of Presidential politics will change as of the 2012 election.

More on a possible Thompson surge is at Captain's Quarters.

Update: More on Thompson from Patterico:

"Thompson is a guy who has laid out detailed positions on all sorts of issues. He never gets dinged for misrepresenting facts in debates. And I like the fact that he’s not consumed by ambition. That’s exactly the sort of person we should want as president.

"But our moronic news media, which pretends to disdain overambitious candidates and to care about policies — doesn’t really care about substance. For them, it’s all about the horse race, the gimmicks, and the pizzazz..."

I would include in the media many Beltway pundits. I've been particularly disappointed in the lack of seriousness about Thompson from the Roundtable folks on Special Report with Brit Hume, who were writing him off as "an actor" last summer, and who are totally consumed by the horse race aspects rather than substance; in fact, while Thompson has steadily put out detailed positions on various issues, the Roundtable pundits complain they don't see a "reason" for a Thompson candidacy, a complaint which has never made any sense to me at all.

Late Update: Peter Robinson writes that Thompson is a Reagan conservative.


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