As to whether a Thompson entry into the race would harm Romney’s chances of winning the nomination, of course it would. His entry will also make the hill steeper for McCain and Giuliani. ~Dean Barnett

Let’s start out with the positives: Fred Thompson is a pretty decent actor, and as I recall he was mostly all right when he was in the Senate.  Of course, right there is a big problem: he hasn’t been in Washington as an elected official in a few years.  He is just about as fresh in the political world today as that other Thompson running for President (Tommy), and he has less of a record to run on.  What exactly is his election slogan?  Is it “I replaced Al Gore in the Senate, but I am not Al Gore”?  Obviously, he has followed the herd on foreign policy and has lately even distinguished himself by jumping on the “Libby is a victim” bandwagon, so there are many reasons why I would be unenthusiastic about a Fred Thompson run. 

But the idea that he would have some sort of major impact on the race one way or another is bizarre.  Does Fred Thompson have some vast army of loyalists that no one has ever noticed before?  How did he suddenly supposedly become a major player in the GOP, when he has lately been “that funny guy who is in Law & Order“?  Saying that Thompson’s entry would “make the hill steeper” for anyone is a bit like saying that the entry of, say, Larry Craig of Idaho would throw the entire field into disarray.  I’m sure this sort of talk is flattering to Fred Thompson and his fans to think so, but it simply isn’t true.  No one thinks that a surprise Max Cleland campaign would create big problems for Democratic candidates, and no one is even suggesting such a thing because it would be so bizarre and pointless.  Besides, Fred is probably making more on Law & Order than he would if he even managed to win, and he almost certainly would have a better time acting than being the guy saddled with all the woes that the next President will inherit.