Memo to readers: With his superb performance in Wednesday’s debate in Iowa, Fred Thompson has made a monkey out of me. By early afternoon on Tuesday, the column that appears below, one which posits that Thompson’s presidential campaign might still find a way to win, was ready in exactly the form it appears here. But I thought the column would still remain exactly on target throughout the week, so (for various reasons) I aimed for a Friday release. At the time, I thought that until Thompson began his Iowa bus tour on Monday the 17th, my contention that he “ain’t dead” yet would seem noteworthy for its boldness.
Then Thompson ruined it all by so clearly running away with the laurels in Wednesday’s debate — and in particularly Reaganesque fashion. Just as Reagan did at the famous Nashua, N.H. debate in 1980, Thompson used the unfairness of the debate moderator as a foil in a way that justly earned the candidate plaudits as a no-nonsense kind of guy. Now everybody is taking a second look at Thompson’s chances. Deservedly so.
But of course a debate performance like that should not have been a surprise. As my column reports, pollster Frank Luntz said even before Wednesday’s debates that Thompson was hitting his stride and connecting with audiences at earlier debates.
Anyway, without further ado (but with more commentary afterwards), here is my column as originally written — in what I thought would seemed a fairly bold analysis, but which now seems unremarkable — as an object lesson for those of us who think we understand political timing. Just as pundits, myself included, were having a high old time criticizing Sen. Thompson for the timing of his efforts in this campaign, he somehow succeeded in stealing a march on us. Maybe Good Ol’ Fred knows what he is doing after all.p> ****** br> The original column: /p>
Don’t count out Fred Thompson for president just yet.
Two years ago, then-U.S. Sen. George Allen of Virginia was generally seen as the most likely Republican to emerge as the conservative consensus candidate for president in 2008. Today, he is intimately involved — especially in making pitches to major donors — with the candidacy of his former colleague Fred Thompson of Tennessee.
Detractors might say Allen’s involvement is fitting, considering that Allen badly crashed in his own Senate re-election campaign, just as Thompson has been falling in the polls since his belated official announcement in September. But there’s another way to look at it. Just as Allen was once thought to be the only candidate solid on all three legs of the conservative stool — social, economic, and defense/foreign policy — Thompson is now hoping that each of the other major candidates’ apostasies in at least one of those areas will drag them down, one by one, until Thompson is the only contender left standing.
All along, Thompson’s campaign has banked its hopes on what Allen calls “the integrity, the genuineness, the authenticity” of Thompson as the “consistent, commonsense conservative.”
Pollster Frank Luntz says it still may work.
“He does well [in focus groups],” Luntz told me on Dec. 7. “He has an especially good opportunity still to do well in southern and border states where his laid-back style is not only appreciated but embraced. His best message is about immigration and anti-Washington spending. The way he communicates those things is very credible; people believe him.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?