The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Should Thompson Get Specific on Policy? Not Yet, But...


Another conservative writer just asked me if the Thompson speech was a little “eh”, and wouldn’t FDT be better off if he laid out something new on the environment, entitlements, energy, etc.

There’s a school of thought, once popular on the left, that ideas don’t matter, or that more specifically, policy proposals and ideas have little impact on campaigns. Certainly the thin gruel of policy proposals from the Democrats in 2006 — no unified stand on Iraq, a generic and small-ball “six in 06” agenda, and an overall vibe of “Vote for us, we’re the party without Mark Foley” — demonstrated that the public isn’t always looking for a well thought out, detailed agenda. This isn’t to say that candidates shouldn’t have white papers and policy plans that we policy geeks enjoy, but just that “normal” people don’t pay attention.

I liked the way Thompson laid out the Libby stuff — i.e., if we give a proscutor unlimited resources and time, he can probably find something on any target. It’s a point that might get the public to stop thinking of Libby as “that dirty neocon who Chris Matthews blames for Iraq, terrorism, and dandruff”  and instead says, “Geez, if the DC media-industrial-complex could pressure DOJ to set up a prosecutor with near-infinite resources against Libby, who’s next?” It allows Thompson to run against Washington, and actually target what’s wrong with our political culture, instead of going after the empty “partisanship” bogeyman the way Obama is…

But as I said to this conservative writer, my dream GOP candidate unveils a policy book(let) — the conservative equivalent of “Putting People First” — full of every innovative idea from the states from both parties, and cites a lot of Thomas P.M. Barnett…

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


Subscribe to National Review