There will be a lot of post-mortems written about the Fred Thompson campaign, an effort that put together a lot of bright, hardworking people.
But for now, a variation of something I said to some other conservative bloggers earlier today: Thompson more or less “debuted” with the 60 second video responding to Michael Moore, one of the most brilliant media messages we’ve seen in a long while from a conservative.
I think one of the reasons that video struck a chord with so many righty bloggers was because we’re constantly seeing, and confronting, insane political rhetoric from the left. It’s maybe even a an obsession of righty bloggers, or perhaps we give it more attention than it deserves. But every time Michael Moore, Rosie O’Donnell or Cindy Sheehan spout off, or Charlie Sheen goes off on his 9/11 conspiracy theories… every time Nancy Pelosi goes to meet with a dictator, or a prominent Democrat refuses to acknowledge progress in Iraq, or somebody on either side of the aisle suggests that wanting immigration law enforced is inherently racist, every time somebody puts out some insane conspiracy theory that suggests President Bush is behind terror attacks…
We on the right hear it, we get driven up the wall by it, we try to push back in our own limited way, and we’re waiting for somebody with a bigger megaphone than us to push back. Very few high-profile Republicans give a full-throated pushback because A) they don’t see it if they’re up to their noses in legislative work on Capitol Hill or in the White House all day and B) they probably see responding to some fat propagandist or screeching antiwar widow-turned-celebrity as beneath them. (I realize this is a separate issue, but this helps explain some of Ann Coulter’s appeal even when she goes too far – there is nobody on the left she won’t take on).
Along comes Fred, who doesn’t act as if rebutting Moore’s propaganda is beneath him, and he points out that Moore likes to snuggle with censoring, brutal dictators, he suggests Moore is mentally unstable… and we loved it. We’ve been looking for this combativeness from a conservative for years, and it makes Giuliani’s “I don’t need Michael Moore to tell me about 9/11” sound like Marquess de Queensbury rules. To quote Frank J, we’ve been looking for somebody to “punch the hippies.”
Alas, there was little to none of that from Fred once he became a candidate. It became a fairly ordinary campaign, despite having some good folks around him.
That sums up the campaign well, I think. While he was the only solid conservative in the first or second tier, he never caught fire, due to his seemingly laid-back nature. If only he had “punched more hippies,” indeed.
Looks like the only choice left is Romney, if for no other reason than he’s the least objectionable, assuming he’s not lying through his teeth and his (many) policy conversions are, in fact, genuine. If they’re not, conservatives are just screwed this election. It may well benefit the conservative movement for the Democrat nominee to win at this rate to give us time to regroup and plan for the future.
I may still write in Thompson’s name in November.