Apparently some folks like Fred Thompson, and they have ideas for Law & Order: Run the Whole Damn Country. But we’re expecting (and hoping) that the American people don’t pick up the pilot.
Our main beef: his cellar-dwelling record with the League of Conservation Voters. How about a quickie look-see at Fred’s scores, and his chances:
- 1995: 1 for 14 (voted to protect ANWR, but 13 strikes against him)
- 1996: 4 for 13 (had a pro-endangered-species vote, but voted against land protection and for land sell-offs and pork projects)
- 1997: 2 for 7 (voted against logging roads but for more roads in parks, and a free-taxpayer-money mining subsidy)
- 1998: 0 for 8 (no saving graces – just land giveaways, funding cuts, and corporate welfare to the mining industry)
- 1999: 0 for 9 (another bagel – against renewable energy, against fuel efficiency, for giveaways, this time to the oil industry)
- 2000: 0 for 7 (hat trick – voted against protecting ANWR, and supported giveaways on grazing and timber, AND buried his head in the sand on mining pollution as well as on nuclear waste)
- 2001: 2 for 8 (and the 2 barely count – a campaign finance reform bill, and he spanked a blatant Bush-administration power-grab on agro regs. Not really conservation votes at all; really, it’s 0 for 6)
- 2002: 1 for 16 (and even the 1 is plainly bogus: his vote to stiffen a renewable-energy requirement was designed to make the bill a sure loser; when that measure failed, he voted against the weakened standard)
His total (minus the 3 freebies in 01-02): 7 for 72 over his Senate career.
So, does Mr. Take-all-you-like-boys,-there’s-plenty-to-go-around actually have a chance in ’08?
Many conservatives are quietly panicked: thanks in part to their indulgence of the Neocon Boondoggle, their ship is floating between the Scylla and Charybdis of Rudy McRomney on one side and Barry Hussein/Hanoi Hillary on the other. The “Applications Still Being Accepted (Please)” sign is plastered in every window of the Republican political storefront, and many people were hoping Fred would give them a reason to feel better.
But Fred is like the Bode Miller of the ’08 race. He’s got tons of potential, and he’s a threat the moment he shows up, but he’s gonna prep the way he wants to and shoot from the hip. Campaigning, like olympic skiing, is a bad place to “just wing it,” but so far, that’s Fred’s approach — once in Texas, where it fell flat, and again in DC, where even the National Journal called him out for a bum speech.
(Note to candidate: The Republican base is like some high-school PTA, picking a Ronald Reagan cover band for the homecoming dance. Opening with 10 rambling minutes on future-jailbird-and-current-party-embarassment Scooter Libby is like starting out with “how ’bout those Contras, everybody!”.)
Fred’s got other problems — behind on fundraising, generally considered a lazy campaigner without a love of the politics biz, never fought a tight race, supported campaign finance reform, which some wingers hate, and divorced the girl he married after getting her pregnant in high school, which some wingers will also hate. Plus, unlike Al Gore (Fred’s Bode Miller counterpart on the left), donors and staffers haven’t been silently waiting for him to announce so they can swarm him with instant support. Mike Bloomberg has his own bankroll, at least, and a lot more to distinguish himself on policy.
But Fred’s real problem: his trump card is supposed to be his charisma and presence, but so far, he’s brought none of that to the public. Considering he’s got a late start, with no access to a pile of his own cash to use as a catch-up fund, he’ll have to out-raise, out-work, and most importantly out-shine his primary opponents.
We don’t think he’s got it in him. We’re glad for that.