Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Thompson's Schtick

Fred Thompson is developing a schtick. The idea is that being a monomaniac who can only think of his/her obsessive ambition to be President is a bad thing. What you want, Thompson's theory goes, is someone who cuts the whole thing down to size, a real person who can do it, right enough, but who isn't so intense that we'll be constantly distracted from our own lives by the ongoing catastrophe that the government is always stirring up. The genius of it is the subtle criticism of President Bush and the not-so-subtle criticism of the Clintons that this pose implies. It's an outsider's pose that works under the radar (the pundocracy is acluck about his "lack of interest," just the quality he's selling). Southern voters who don't like Romney's slickness or Giuliani's ego will find this persona appealing, and that might play in the Midwest too. But maybe not. Maybe you just can't act laconic and get elected President. Meanwhile Giuliani has high national polls but much tighter numbers in Iowa. One argument then goes that it would be better to skip Iowa on the grounds that there is too much to lose. But skipping Iowa is probably too risky itself for Giuliani to do that. No one knows the consequences of coming in fourth, losing to, say, Huckabee in Iowa, but that's obviously too much risk. These are the problems of the front runner.

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