I hope the Fred Thompson campaign folks realize that my strong but constructive criticism yesterday wasn’t just a one-man rant. Aside from my column suggesting that Tony Snow run for the Senate from Virginia (before Tony was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, which I am confident he will hold in check) — about which I was inundated, breathatkingly, with messages of “Where do I sign up to help?!?” — I have never had such a volume of responses as I did to yesterday’s column. And I would estimate that something slightly over 90 percent of them were in utter agreement with me. Note that most of those who agreed are either Thompson supporters, or would-be Thompson supporters, or once-were Thompson supporters, who are really, really eager for him to step up his performances but who are really, really disappointed so far. A number of letter writers also specifically mentioned receiving the same platitudinous phone message from Thompson about which I complained so strongly, and every one of those correspondents had the same reaction I did: that the message was actually counterproductive because it came across as an insult to their intelligence. I can’t repeat strongly enough, based on the huge volume and intensity of letters I received, that there is a hunger out there for a conservative candidate to mount a strong campaign, that there is a belief that Thompson has at least the potential to mount such a campaign — and that, so far, his performance since the summer hasn’t just failed to light a fire toward that end, but has actually turned people off for a number of reasons.
Mostly, (judging from the letters), people seem actually angry that Thompson keeps slinging around cliches. It’s not that people demand 10-point plans for everything, but they do want a sense that the candidate has put at least SOME thought into HOW to put principles into action, and that he respects their intelligence enough not to try to sucker them with a bunch of hackneyed phrases.
Again, people really want to see Thompson do well. But they want somebody to light a fire under him, or put a fire in his belly, or whatever cliche best expresses the same thing. There’s ahappy medium between having no sharp edges and offering nothing but gelatin. Right now he’s too close to offering nothing but gelatin. He can do better. He should do better.
UPDATE: Ericka at Red State adds more fuel to the fire.