The Corner

Thompson’s Problem

Leave it to someone across the pond (in this case, Paul Marks at Samizdata), to identify Fred Thompson’s biggest obstacle in this election:

Fred Thompson is in the middle of a 40 town Iowa tour – so he is hardly lazy. And he does go on television shows – thus dealing with critics, such as myself, who attacked him for not going on enough shows. But what sort of person would enjoy all this?

A lunatic. Someone who was interested in office for its own sake – not as a means to reduce the size and scope of government.

What the media, including Fox News (the only non-leftist news station and, therefore, of vital importance in the Republican nomination process), are saying is that Fred Thompson is too sane to be President. It is not enough to produce detailed policies for dealing with the entitlement program Welfare State (a cancer that is destroying the United States and the rest of the Western World), or producing a new optional flat tax (individuals could continue to use the existing system if they wished to) to deal with the nightmare of complexity that the income tax has become.

It is not even enough to have a long record of service, going back to Watergate and taking down a corrupt Governor of Tennessee in the 1970′s. And having one of the most Conservative voting records in the United States Senate – before leaving it in disgust at how the system did not allow real reform.

No – someone has to enjoy the prospect for office for its own sake, not to reduce the size and scope of government and restore a Federal Republic. One must enjoy the whole process of politics – i.e. be crazy. Or one must pretend to enjoy it – i.e. be a liar.

And then people complain that politicians are either crazy or corrupt. When they shoo away anyone who comes along who is neither crazy or corrupt.

Glenn Reynolds concurs, adding these thoughts:

Thompson is running the kind of campaign — substantive, policy-laden, not based on gimmicks or sound-bites — that pundits and journalists say they want, but he’s getting no credit for it from the people who claim that’s what they want. It’s like in Tootsie when Dustin Hoffman tries doing the things he’s heard women say they want from men, only to discover that they don’t really want those things at all.

I made some similar points in my NRODT essay explaining my support for Thompson.  In short, some say Thompson doesn’t want to be President badly enough.  At a time when Presidential wannabes plot their moves years (if not decades) in advance, that should be a feature, not a bug.

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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