Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 11, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THOMPSON ON ABORTION....It turns out that rising conservative hero Fred Thompson has given some modestly equivocal answers about abortion in the past. Does this flip-floppery mean that he's in trouble with the evangelical base? CBN's David Brody thinks not:

I think at the end of the day these abortion incidents from the 1990's probably don't amount to much. Listen, the reality is Thompson was a 100% national Right to Life guy. His Planned Parenthood score was 0. Those numbers mean something....What I'm hearing is that Thompson is saying all the right things to certain religious leaders and they are taking to him. Watch for some notable names to get behind him by the end of the summer. Maybe before.

I figure Brody is probably about as close to a reliable voice of the evangelical base as we have, so for now I'll take his word for it that this stuff isn't going to hurt Thompson. But that doesn't mean something else won't. I suspect Republicans are sadly deluded if they think Thompson is going to be their savior this year.

Kevin Drum 11:26 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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Thompson & Romney get to battle to the death in the Stuffed Shirt Cage Match. Oddsmakers in Vegas are going crazy.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on June 11, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I predict a Gary Hart-Monkey Business moment; old habits die hard (as do old politicians hopped up on viagra).

Posted by: lampwick on June 11, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Positions on issues be damned, Fred Thompson sounds like a president. Republicans will vote for him in droves.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 11, 2007 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

My prediction - Dobson calls Thompson in for a weekend retreat. At conclusion of retreate, Dobson proclaims Thompson a "good Christian" and throws his support behind Thompson. This is exactly what happened with Dumbya, and Dobson needs to choose someone, and he ain't choosing anyone else. Dobson wants to back a winner whom he thinks he can sway, and Thompson will say anything to get elected.

Posted by: Eric on June 11, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Thompson is the GOP Wesley Clark for this cycle, a distraction that hopeful Goopers think will ride in on his white horse and overcome some perceived party shortcoming. However, much like Clark, I expect that the reality of actually campaigning will wear the guy out and show that he was more attractive when you didn't actually know the guy.

At the end of the day, McCain is going to get this nomination like Kerry did; based on grass roots work in Iowa.

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on June 11, 2007 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK


Sweet Jesus... a bromide wrapped in a banality.

Brody's concluding paragraph begins: "At the end of the day..."

He loses right there on style points.

More better pundits please...


Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on June 11, 2007 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Ron Byers. Thompson may not be the Republican savior, but he will be their candidate.

He is the perfect high sheriff of Potemkin Village, USA, where Republican values are upheld by the unwavering power of cognitive dissonance.

Posted by: chance on June 11, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

At this point in time, I think the GOP is going to get beaten like a rented mule in the 2008 election, regardless of who they run.

Unless The Gipper rises from the grave, the GOP sleaze machine better start dusting off the cattle futures trading and Vince Foster myths again, because it is looking like there will be another Clinton in the White House in about 18 months.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 11, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

The key to the next election for Republicans has to be substantial appeal to independents. The more people like Thompson run to the Republican base, the more independents will flock to Democrats. A strong pro-life, pro-war stand will kill them, as it should.

Posted by: jb on June 11, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

I hope you're right, but please give us more examples of why Thompson's candidacy is doomed.

Posted by: Kit Stolz on June 11, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Unless The Gipper rises from the grave, the GOP sleaze machine better start dusting off the cattle futures trading and Vince Foster myths again, because it is looking like there will be another Clinton in the White House in about 18 months. Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 11, 2007 at 12:38 PM

It already has.

That and the fact that I disagree with far too many of her votes and opinions in the past is why I'm hoping she isn't the Dem candidate.

If she is, I'll still vote for her, but I'm hoping she isn't.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on June 11, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

I don't agree with Ron Paul on most of the issues, but he has integrity.
The rest of the Republicans are just a bunch of clowns, and belligerent clowns at that. They will do and say anything for a vote. But remember the bunch of idiots they had when Bush run, Keys, Bauer, Hatch, Forbes, Bush and McCain. And look what we got out of that sorry bunch of men.
The Republicans are sure the American people are fools, they will vote for who ever Dobson and co will tell them to vote for. They lie in your face knowing everyone knows they are lying.

They believe in creationism, are hostile to women, just like some other religious people. They do not believe in separation of church and state, even if they say so.

Posted by: Renate on June 11, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

jb: The key to the next election for Republicans has to be substantial appeal to independents. The more people like Thompson run to the Republican base, the more independents will flock to Democrats. A strong pro-life, pro-war stand will kill them, as it should.

Totally agree with this. Thompson is running like a Republican candidate of 10 years ago. He apparently hasn't woken up and smelled the coffee.

And watching Republican candidates try and fail to diplomatically kiss off the frothing-at-the-mouth hawks and the mewling religious right is going to be absolutely delicious.

Posted by: shortstop on June 11, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

That doesn't mean you can't peel off a significant part of the evangelical base by hammering on his inconsistencies on the issues, which is real.

He should be hit hard on this, repeatedly.

Posted by: crabgrass on June 11, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Here’s the problem: Republicans love an authoritarian figure. They want to elect a national Daddy, and Thompson will fit the bill for them. I see Thompson, and I see an inept, local-yokel rural county sheriff. I don’t want a county sheriff as my president.

Republicans, on the other hand, look at Thompson and see...a county sheriff. A plainspoken, aw-shucks, no-nonsense Daddy figure who’ll take it to them terra-ists with both barrels blazin'. The nomination is his to accept. All he's got to do is hoodwink enough Clinton-weary Reagan Democrats to win the general

Put Thompson up against a cerebral Democrat, and that’s it. These days, style trumps substance every time. For proof, peer inside the Oval Office window sometime (if you can get past security).

Posted by: Warren Terraplane on June 11, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure if someone as bald as Thomson can be President today. He does have the young wife. which will be an advantage. Repubs want the reasurance that it's okay to marry someone half your age.

Posted by: JohnF on June 11, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

The key to the next election for Republicans has to be substantial appeal to independents. The more people like Thompson run to the Republican base, the more independents will flock to Democrats. A strong pro-life, pro-war stand will kill them, as it should.
Posted by: jb on June 11, 2007 at 12:40 PM

I agree with the first part of this-that independents will be key to Repubs electability this time around, but I think that Thompson will actually run (down the road) by *appealing* to the center, keeping *just* the right amount of distance from the fundies and let his VP pick (Huckabee or Brownback) do all the legwork with the base. Of course, I don't think McCain or Guliani will make it because of the former's stance on immigration and the latter's personal life. Now if Romney starts appealing to the center with a bold Health Care initiative and takes the spotlight off his Mormonism, then he might have some traction.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 11, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I think he's perfect for today's Republican party. Right-to-life, small government, and fiscal discipline are nice slogans, but what they really want is an authority figure to give orders. Actors work well for them. God knows they can't actually run on what the party is really for, which is to enrich the already wealthy.

Posted by: slideguy on June 11, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Good lord,

At first I thought I was going to enjoy all the bloviating about the empty shirt Thompson. Its all too easy to swat away, but this is just going to be 2000 all over again.

Puff pieces (not this one particularly) are going to be all the rage and repeated enough people will actually believe that Thompson has accomplished something, politically, in the past. He has shown virtually no real political skills as of yet and the dais upon which the press and supportors put him grows each day. Its friggin' comical.

He is yet just another romanticized image of what the GOP wants.

Posted by: Simp on June 11, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

The long run-up to the primaries and the hard scrutiny of the right-wing noise machine will provide plenty of flip-flop fodder for when Republican candidates need to move back to the center.

Whoever wins the Republican nomination will have to face Hillary, most likely, in the debates. She would hand Thompson his head in debates on substance.

Americans want a change and they don't want more folksy conservative pablum.

Posted by: jb on June 11, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

"I see Thompson, and I see an inept, local-yokel rural county sheriff. I don’t want a county sheriff as my president."

"He's a hip-shooting ex-oil king,
Even talks/Like Buddy Ebsen
And now he's sitting in the West Wing

Now Frankenstein/I'm well aware of
But won't somebody please explain
How you get/A county sheriff
Walking with a frat boy's brain?"

Robbie Fulks, "Countrier Than Thou"

Posted by: brewmn on June 11, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

A conservative perspective:

Thompson looks great on 'Law and Order'. I could stand up and cheer for some of the speeches he gives.

However, he's known much better for his work as a TV character than for his work as a public servant. How intelligent is he when someone isn't writing his lines for him?

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 11, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

What I don't understand about Fred Thompson is, what's the reason for him running? As a long serving senator and war hero with combat experience, McCain believes this best enables him to server as commander-in-chief. Giuliani believes that he's the best man to handle the problems caused by threats from terrorism. Even Romney has something going for him as a man who got some stuff done in Massachusetts. (They're both wrong, I'd argue, and nobody more so than Giuliani, but that's a different story.) Similarly, Obama is the candidate who is inspiring, a representation of a more youthful force in politics, and someone who wants to transcend the political divide. Clinton is seasoned and experienced. Edwards believes he's going to be an effective advocate for those who currently do not have a voice. (All these descriptions are debatable, mind you, but I find them more believable than those of the Republicans.) What can we say about Fred Thompson? He fits a bunch of general characteristics, but it doesn't go beyond that. He isn't running on any issues, at least not yet. He isn't taking any specific positions, at least not yet. And so on. I'm not really sure what the rationale for his candidacy is supposed to be, besides the idea that he's the least offensive and most likely to win, something that's understandable in some sense but bizarre in others.

Actually, let me say this. There's a scene in the movie Legally Blonde where Victor Garber is talking to Luke Wilson about Reese Whitherspoon's character, where he says, "It's like she woke up and said, 'I think I'll go to law school.'" Substitute "law school" for "running for president," then you have the case of Fred Thompson.

Posted by: Brian on June 11, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Reese Witherspoon is as qualified.

Posted by: ckelly on June 11, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'd vote for Reese.

Posted by: Disputo on June 11, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

The popularity of Rudy Guliani shows that Republicans don't care about serial adultry or abortions, they only care about power and winning. Guliani looks like a winner because he was crowned "American's Mayor" Fred Thompson is popular because he looks like a president. Republicans don't care for policy, law or honesty. They wil lie, cheat and steal to retain the white house

Posted by: beb on June 11, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Thompson gave his answer in one of the "Law & Order" episodes. He said that Roe v Wade was wrong because the issue should be decided on the state level. and that he was personally against abortion. I have a feeling that what Branch says on L & O has a lot of Thompson's political views included.

Posted by: natural cynic on June 11, 2007 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Word beb.

They are petty and evil.

Its funny, its so easy to get the people in this country whipped up into a frenzy to drag out our military to attack some foreign country, to save the American way and further democracy, but the only credible threat to this great experiment, that is our nation, is the rich people. They are the only ones who can do us in, and they are the ones pulling all the RWB strings.

They are winning, too.

When they get control of the internet, we're done. The print/radio/tv media are already gone.

Posted by: anon on June 11, 2007 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

I hear that the Tennessee Dems ran him out after 1 term and have pictures. Seriously.

Posted by: Tennessee girl on June 12, 2007 at 7:25 AM | PERMALINK

It's hard to take Pastor Terry Jones all that seriously, not least because of that unfortunate resemblance to The Beverly Hillbillies' Jed Clampett!

Posted by: wedding cars on September 12, 2010 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK
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