Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

January 23, 2008

The Campaign That Never Was



Bye bye, Fred:

Fred D. Thompson, the former senator from Tennessee, dropped out of the Republican race for president on Tuesday after a third-place primary showing on Saturday in South Carolina, a state he had hoped to win when he entered the race riding a wave of optimism among conservatives looking for a strong general election candidate.

Mr. Thompson’s withdrawal came three days after he delivered a rambling speech on Saturday night that signaled that his departure was imminent. Aides said it was delayed because he went to Tennessee to tend to his mother, who was ill.

"I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort," he said in a statement. "Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people," he added, referring to his wife.
Thompson packed it in after a mere four months. The guy clearly didn't want the job, and was drafted reluctantly by Republicans desperate for a daddy figure to worship. It took him too long to decide whether to jump in, and by the time he did, his decision and performance was so anticlimactic it never got off the ground.

Marc Ambinder insists he wasn't lazy and blames his failed campaign on poor organization. Uh no, he was lazy. He thought the upswell of online support for his run would substitute for stumping on the campaign trail, and when reality told him otherwise, he dragged himself through the motions so obviously that people often commented on how uninspiring and disappointing he was. As Frank Rich jokingly asked Don Imus after the latter mentioned talking to Thompson adviser Mary Matalin, "did she address the narcolepsy aspect?"

Now that Thompson withdrew from the race, another adviser is hinting he might be interested in running for vice president. Some suggest it was the plan all along. I sure wish the eventual Republican nominee would seriously consider the idea, because nothing would kill confidence in his candidacy faster than having this somnambulant man for a running mate and potential president-in-waiting.

As to who would benefit from Thompson's withdrawal, I'll have to say it's Huckabee, at least in Florida where primary voters who consider themselves very conservative show a preference for him. Beyond that it's hard to say, because dissatisfaction with the field is what fueled Thompson's ill fated campaign to begin with.

For the meantime, methinks we've seen the last of Bedhead Fred. Robert Stein wrote the best epitaph for his stillborn campaign:

He could have aced the part, but the rehearsals were murder, so Fred Thompson's agent can start fielding offers again. The Law & Order star announced today that he has stopped auditioning for the White House.

It was fun while it lasted. Before he declared his candidacy, Thompson was running second in the national polls, but the rigors of actually campaigning were too much.

He ran for President from a Barcalounger, as Dick Cavett observed in his New York Times blog, and gave new meaning to "laid back" until he bestirred himself in the South Carolina debate to deliver a few barbs for Mike Huckabee, who will no doubt benefit from his absence in the Florida primary.

Since everybody else is playing Ronald Reagan in this campaign, Thompson's road-show performance won't be missed.
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posted at 7:51 AM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
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-- Epistularum Liber Primus, Horace

Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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