Overall, I think Thompson was strong, but uneven before the Family Research Council Summit.
The parts of Thompson’s speech that work, work well. The problem is that there are stretches in between them that – I must have used this term a hundred times already when writing about Thompson – meander. He begins with a funny, lighthearted story about his 2-year-old daughter Hayden clinging to his leg during a speech at an Iowa event.
He gets significant warmth from the crowd when he declares, “We know that our basic rights come from God, and not any form of government.” His “we have shed more blood” line gets significant applause.
The economics portions of Thompson’s speech get something of a blah reception. Around this time, I noticed he clears his throat more often than any other politician I’ve seen. Somebody get this man a cough drop.* “When we see government officials giving birth control to 11-year-olds, we know some values are seriously messed up.”
He gets a long standing ovation when he says that in his first hour as president, he would “pray to God for the wisdom to know what is right.” The ovation is so long, that his true closing line, “and the strength to carry it out” feels like a forlorn orphan of a statement.
A bunch of young Fred-ites chant, “Go’Fred Go!” as he departs. Some great moments in his address, and since most will only see the highlights, he’s done most of what he needed to do. But we still haven’t seen him knock it out of the park, from the moment he steps up to the podium to the moment he departs. He’s an oddly uneven speaker for a veteran Senator and television star.
* A reader wonders if the throat-clearing is related to Thompson’s lymphoma; a Thompsonite told me he didn’t think so. I hope my observation didn’t come across as a shot at Thompson’s health.