Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 20, 2008
POLITICS: No Way I'm Disco Dancing

Having squeaked to a third-place finish in South Carolina with 16% of the vote, Fred Thompson has failed to do even the bare minimum he needed on highly favorable turf to remain a viable presidential candidate, and will soon either drop out of the race or remain in mainly as a spokesman rather than a serious contender. The "Big Five" is now down to four, and shrinking, as Mike Huckabee's second-place finish has wounded him in what had been hoped to be his Southern stronghold, and Rudy Giuliani's own do-or-die moment in Florida - and the test of his unusual "hang back and let them bruise each other" strategy - rapidly approaches with the specter of John McCain, the guy whose appeal overlaps most with Rudy's, as his primary obstacle (although Rudy may draw a few supply-siders from the beaching of the Good Ship Fred, and is calibrating his attacks accordingly).

Fred will be remembered as the Mycroft Holmes of presidential candidates. You will recall that Sherlock Holmes said that his older brother Mycroft would have been the greatest detective who ever lived, if that could be accomplished without leaving his armchair. That's Fred in a nutshell - indeed, the high watermark of the Fred phenomenon was his hilarious video response to Michael Moore, delivered ... from an armchair.

Fred's diehard supporters will complain that the mainstream media done him wrong, but as I have explained before, there were any number of full-scale conservatives one might have tried to draft into the race (we had serious and experienced if not quite as across-the-board conservative contenders running already in Sam Brownback and Duncan Hunter); the reason people settled on Fred was precisely because his background as an actor and trial lawyer suggested a guy who, like Reagan, could work around and over the heads of the media. His failure to do so effectively was what doomed his campaign.

Fred tried to (1) enter late and (2) run one of those "new kind of campaigns" that never work on the presidential level; even if one of the two was possible, the combination, added to the erratic quality of his public appearances on the trail (even many Fred supporters came away disappointed at some of his speeches and debate appearances) and the general lack of a well-run campaign organization (Fred turned out not to be able to learn to run an organization, having never done so before), was fatal. Fred refused to play by old rules he felt were demeaning, but he didn't come up with an effective substitute. It was said of Henry Clay that he would rather be right than president; at times it seemed that Fred would rather be cool than president.

And in the end, he didn't even maximize his ability to embrace the new. One of my fellow RedState contributors suggested some time back that Fred should combine his talk-radio experience and the power of YouTube to do a daily video "message of the day" that could reach web-connected voters nationally on a daily basis, at almost no cost. Such a video could be short (2-5 minutes), and run from a prepared script, yet be far more substantive than a 30-second TV spot, and would still be a great idea for any presidential contender, doubly so for one with Fred's talents; unlike the largely ignored campaign blogs, it would be visibly the work of the candidate himself. Yet after the initial and sometimes rambling off-the-cuff efforts at "Fred Answers" to voter questions, Fred basically disappeared from web video productions. So much for the new kind of campaign.

Anyway, we may not yet be done with Fred, as he would make a fine Vice Presidential nominee (although McCain is almost certainly the guy he is least suited to run with, as such a ticket would be too old, too Senatorial and too inside-the-Beltway). But like Mycroft Holmes, he will be best remembered as a walk-on part in somebody else's adventures.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:31 AM | Politics 2008 | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)

Spot on. McCain/Fred doesn't work, just not credible on the shared strengths, too many shared weaknesses.


Those are the pairings that would work from the big-5. Longer shot would be McCain/Rudy. I think the chances of a VEEP not in the presidential race is just as likely, if not more so. Especially if McCain has to dust up with Rudy and Huck to win.

Posted by: Brendan at January 20, 2008 12:13 PM

Nobody will work well with Huckabee, the sooner he disappears the better.

Posted by: abe at January 20, 2008 12:49 PM

Actually, as much as people like to say the Pres/VP combo would be a ticket of two of the candidates, that almost never happens, and won't work well either. Remember, these are the people with the cojones to run for all the marbles, and don't want second best. Remember when Ford and Reagan were negotiating? Ford thought Reagan wanted to be Pres from the VP office.

It's like Clinton/Obama, or the other way around. Won't happen. Clinton/Webb yes. That's a tough ticket too.

And Crank, I love the Mycroft reference. I find too few Holmes fans these days.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 20, 2008 2:30 PM

Well except for FDT - its argued (effectively) in this blog that he might not really want to be Pres.

Posted by: Brendan at January 20, 2008 3:08 PM

Clinton/Obama (and she is going to win the nomination) may be not just possible but required to heal the breaches of this long campaign and the racial posturing of the Clinton camp. I know they can't stand each other, but JFK and LBJ weren't exactly tight either. And it would be a powerful combination from an electoral standpoint. But what do I know--I laughed at Clinton for picking Gore and Bush for picking Cheney...and that didn't exactly stop either of them.

Posted by: Watchman at January 20, 2008 5:01 PM

Gingrich should be the VP on any ticket. He will give instant conservative credibility to any nominee. He would probably do the best for Romney, then Rudy, then McCain.

25 days until pitchers and catchers report, 10 days until Florida's primary.

Posted by: Dodger Steve at January 20, 2008 5:17 PM

I have to laugh at all this "Fred is done/we like Fred/he had potential talk". The guy barely registers a pulse, and at no point did he have a chance to get the nomination. He's yesterdays news, not the great white hope to save the Republican party. He didnt drop the ball on his chances here, he had none to begin with. It's McCain and Romney folks, with Huckabee's shelf life continuing for a bit.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at January 20, 2008 5:20 PM

I would think Romney would make the best running mate for McCain, should he grab the nomination. Given his age, McCain needs to run with someone people believe could step in and really be President. And even though Romney's not the first choice for a lot of people, I think most people would find him to be an acceptable choice in an emergency. Of course, as with the possibility of Hillary choosing Obama, by the time the race is over there could be too much bad blood for that to happen.

On the Democratic side, Bill Richardson was practically born to be a VP candidate, so I'd think he'll be at the top of the list for either Hil or Obama.

Posted by: Jerry at January 20, 2008 6:52 PM

One value Romney would bring to McCain is the fund raising capability. I just see too much bad blood though.

McCain/Huck seems likely - Huck is young enough (52) that VP would be a stepping stone, versus the swan song it might be for Rudy or Romney.

Posted by: Brendan at January 20, 2008 11:09 PM

FRED THOMPSON is the best person to lead this country. He is a true conservative and has been his entire life. All one has to do is check his record to see this.

During my time in the Army as an Intelligence Analyst, I served under both Presidents Carter and Reagan (as my commanders in chief). Without argument, President Reagan was the best commander-in-chief a military person could ever have served under. Fred Thompson possesses the same qualities and vision as President Reagan in that he is strong on national defense and sees a dire need to secure our borders and control immigration.

I can think of no better person to lead this country and fix the problems we have. He is the only candidate from either party who has specific and detailed plans on border security and immigration reform; revitalization of America’s armed forces; saving and protecting Social Security; and tax relief and economic growth. These are detailed on his Web site at . I challenge you to find any other candidate who has laid out specific plans to fix anything.

Fred Thompson has published his first principles, some of which are mentioned above. In addition to those, he strongly believes in individual liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, federalism, traditional American values, the rule of law and is a strong proponent of the Second Amendment — all concepts established during the birth of our country and documented in our Constitution.

Again, try to find any candidate who has laid out their plans to “fix” this country. You will find they all speak in vague and abstract terms on their plans.

For those who have heard Fred Thompson speak, you will usually hear him say that the Fred Thompson you see today is the same Fred Thompson you saw yesterday and is the same Fred Thompson you will see tomorrow. He stands by his principles and values and doesn’t shift his positions based on polls or public opinion; in other words, he doesn’t say what the voters want to hear just to get elected, but remains steadfast on his views and convictions.

During his time in the Senate he focused on three areas: to lower taxes, strengthen national security and expose waste in the federal government. Fred Thompson has foreign policy experience, having served as member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Intelligence committees.

As chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, he opened the investigation in 1997 on the Chinese government’s attempt to influence American policies and elections, and this investigation identified connections with the Clinton administration (documented in the committee’s report).

As a member of the Finance Committee, he worked tirelessly to enact three major tax-cut bills. Fred Thompson remains steadfast and even though a person may not agree with all his views and he understands some may disagree with him, you can count on him to be consistent and unwavering.

Don’t be fooled by his laid back approach and what critics call his “laziness.” As a former assistant U.S. attorney, he earned a reputation as a tough prosecutor and he possesses the toughness this country needs in order to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s issues.

I ask that you take a hard look at what this country needs, then take a hard look at all the other candidates’ views, policies, their records and their track record on consistency. Fred Thompson possesses integrity, loyalty, commitment, energy and decisiveness, all traits of an effective leader, and will emerge as the best person to take this country boldly forward.

Please help Fred win in Florida:

Posted by: Frederick Paxson at January 21, 2008 1:32 AM

This chump is done I tell ya. Done.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at January 21, 2008 11:21 AM

Fred is done. As to his laid back approach and the so-called critics, I've seen him on TV and he barely looks alive. He's not selling.

Posted by: Dodger Steve at January 21, 2008 2:47 PM

Why are you boys mumbling about politics? The Gmen are headed to the Superbowl.

Posted by: phil simms at January 21, 2008 3:56 PM

Frederick Paxson, what will you say when Fred endorses someone who holds views the exact opposite of his, i.e., McCain?

Posted by: mockmook at January 21, 2008 4:40 PM

What a shame that we feel we have to elect someone to run the Country who "looks good" and "sells".

Whatever happened to Statements of Policy, Voting Record, and experience?

These days I feel folks would elect Satan in a Suit, just as long as he looks dashing and tells the right lies at the right locations.

Posted by: TXMarko at January 21, 2008 6:04 PM

I expect Juanita Broderick agrees with you.

Posted by: abe at January 21, 2008 6:16 PM

TXMarko: You're right that the things that really matter are overlooked for the best trained or best looking candidate. Joel Klein wrote a book last year called Politics Lost, it was about how scripted candidates are today and how they never utter a word that wasn't approved by a consulting team first.

Remember in 2000 when Algore appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone? The magazine has retouched the cover photo to make Algore look more "well endowed". The women went crazy for that. They didn't care about anything substantive. The same was true when both Algore and Gov. Bush went on Oprah's show (at different times), remember the Governor kissed her on the cheek and all Algore had did was shake her hand. Women discussed this for weeks and some based their opinions on the Oprah incidents.

Posted by: Dodger Steve at January 21, 2008 8:17 PM

The GOP is bankrupt. On economics, the only idea is "cut taxes." On immigration, the only idea is "Sned them all home." On terrorism, the only idea is . . . wel,, actually, they have no ideas other than "stay the course in Irag," a place in which we should never have been.

Posted by: Magrooder at January 21, 2008 10:45 PM

Magrooder: The democrats with their "surrender is victory, let's legislate defeat" platform isn't exactly rallying the American people. Any party that watches 9-11 and calls for us to understand the enemy and look at what we're doing wrong is not headed down the right track. And their support of universal healthcare is absolutely dispicable, if I wanted to be ruled by the government by having my medical needs determined by a dictator, I'd move to China or Cuba.

23 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Posted by: Dodger Steve at January 22, 2008 10:49 AM

C'mon Dodger Steve. Party platforms are meaningless. No one reads them, let alone tries to follow them. No President has ever felt the least constrained by a platform.

No sane person reacts to 9/11 by invading a country that HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. Had there been adult supervision in the government, we would have built upon the worldwide support Bush frittered away, focused on Afghanistan and destroyed bin ladin.

Support for universal healthcare is dispicable [sic]? It may be wrong-headed, but deserving to be despised? You must be a doctor complaining that you are not making enough money.

Posted by: Magrooder at January 22, 2008 3:24 PM

Well done Crank, you convinced Fred to drop out; his announcement came about a half hour ago.

It is embarrassing to me that we have such a collectively weak group of candidates. Really, this is the best we can come up with? It seems that the flaws outnumber the strengths.

It is so much more about fundraising then about credentials and abilities. And as long as it is about fundraising, and peddling influence, how much will really change?

Posted by: CT Ron at January 22, 2008 4:16 PM

Magrooder: I'm not a doctor. I know you've studied Michael Moore's propaganda for years and years. Don't take him seriously, he's hating America all the way to bank. As screwed up as the government is, you want to put them in charge of your health needs? I prefer to opt out of that system by voting Republican.

You're right about the party platforms, they make the activists feel good, but no candidate or elected official follows them.

Posted by: Dodger Steve at January 22, 2008 5:49 PM

Dodger Steve,

I agree with your view of Michael Moore (a gasbag) and, in general, with your skepticism of government. But, to assume that Moore is a reflection of widely-held Democrat, or even liberal, thought would be the same as assuming that all Republicans and conservatives think the same as the criminally insane Ann Coulter. The only thing she has over Moore is that she is easier on the eyes.

Posted by: Magrooder at January 23, 2008 11:04 AM

Ann Coulter looks more like a man than does Michael Moore. Whoo, she's UGLY. I'm not even sure she's not a man. She has an Adam's apple.

Posted by: jim at January 23, 2008 1:00 PM

Magrooder: See, we CAN find common ground. So who's year baseball team? Please don't tell me the SF Giants.

Posted by: Dodger Steve at January 23, 2008 2:38 PM

Hey Crank,

Put this in your ongoing series of why you can't vote for Mitt. Nice try. Super embarrassing. This is who you guys are running?? Whoo wee.

Posted by: jim at January 23, 2008 4:02 PM
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