Since we’re playing a kind of blogging tag, I will note that Koz has pointed out that I laughed at Tom Bevan’s prediction that Fred Thompson would vault into third place if and when he entered the race. Indeed I did, because the idea that legions of people are just waiting for Fred Thompson to save us sounded ridiculous at the time. It still sounds pretty ridiculous, even though it appears to be true.
Obviously, as I made perfectly explicit in a later post (in one of those supposedly non-existent examples of a paleo admitting error), I was mistaken about Fred Thompson’s ability to seize the imagination of Republican voters, since he has subsequently moved not just into third place but even into second place (!) as of the most recent polling. This is almost certainly a testament to the pathetic weakness of the major Republican candidates, the limited value of early polling and the celebrity-driven quality of Republican primary politics this cycle, but I am willing to acknowledge that my prediction was quite wrong. However, I am positive that people who want Fred Thompson as President have little idea what Fred Thompson believes or would do as President, because even greater numbers of people want Giuliani as their man and know virtually nothing about him. In a short time, Fred Thompson probably will become the “frontrunner” because the position of “frontrunner” in April of the year before the election is fairly unimportant and will probably switch hands many times over the next few months as people learn more about different candidates. So, as I said a few weeks ago, this polling is either pretty meaningless or the people responding to these polls are the most foolish, impressionable, irrational voters one could hope to find. These early polls are measuring, as polls usually do, vague, changeable sentiments that may have little value for predicting future voting habits.
I will continue to insist that Fred Thompson-mania makes no sense, it is irrational and it is the Republican Party’s political version of a cry for help. That will remain true even in the event that Fred Thompson winds up winning the nomination, because he brings nothing to the table that ought to make him the obvious champion of the field. He possesses many of the same liabilities of the other candidates (e.g., somewhat questionable credentials on life, the tie to campaign finance reform, an undistinguished tenure in the Senate, etc.), and he has had no particular accomplishments in his political or non-political career. He has only a middling-to-bad record on immigration, he has been foursquare behind the war and he has been an active partisan of Scooter Libby–that is the man Republicans want to anoint as their saviour? Go ahead, and watch him lead the party to catastrophe.
In his favour, he has the virtue of being a passable actor and probably enjoys high name recognition thanks to his work in television. If those are qualifications to be the President of the United States, this country is in a lot more trouble than I thought.