Attacks on Thompson Begin in Earnest


By: Warner Todd Huston

Well, it didn’t take long for the MSM to start their attacks on Fred Thompson now that he is in the race. We are seeing more and more of them each day. Over on Newsbusters, Mark Finkelstein was curious what the line of attack would be and I found a few this week myself. Today, we find the next MSM attack line of the day being Thompson’s supposed “lack of experience” for the office. Or in the phasing by Jennifer Rubin of the New York Observer; Thompson is “Like Reagan Without the New Ideas.” And, since Thompson supporters are warm to the idea that Fred is “like Reagan” it seems likely the MSM will delight in trying to paint Thompson as a faux Reagan because they know that this particular line of attack would harm him the most were his supporters to begin to believe it.

Just get a load of Rubin’s first Republican slamming paragraph:

As G.O.P. voters’ concern has turned to panic–hastened by the much-criticized immigration bill–they now recognize that the Bush Presidency may rank with Hoover’s and Carter’s, and that their 2008 Presidential pick will therefore have to offer not only competency but the promise of change.

Here we go again. Up until the Immigration bill, the ire of the GOP’s voter base has been directed at a spendthrift Congress far more than at President Bush’s misses or hits in policy. The GOP Congress is who lost the 2006 elections, not Bush. Bush was still riding comfortably in the polls of GOP faithful up until recently.

But, “panic”? I think not. I certainly won’t say that panic is impossible within the GOP, but now is far too soon for anyone to “panic”. There isn’t even a nominee yet (for either Party, for that matter)! If you want to see examples of panic look at when Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro as a VP candidate in 1984, or nearly the whole time George McGovern and, later, Al Gore were running. THOSE were times when a Party was in panic!

Anyway, after that swipe at Republicans in general, she goes after Thompson directly.

Mr. Thompson will enter the race as the focus of many conservatives’ fixation to find an unblemished candidate… However, it’s not clear that Mr. Thompson has either the experience or the ideas to rescue the G.O.P. from its current plight.

“Not Clear” he has any ideas or experience? I wonder if Rubin has written any such story about Barack Obama who has only been in the Senate for, what, about 15 minutes? How about Senator Clinton who has never held elective office until her New York victory? And, what “success” has she had in that seat? Is she acknowledged as a leader there? Not really as Teddy Kennedy and Harry Reid are far more often presented as the face of the Democrat Party in the actual workings of the Senate than is she. Are we supposed to be overawed that on her resume her “experience” is listed as “jilted wife of former president”?

There’s nothing like attacking the man as an empty suit before he even attempts to lay a case out!

Further, Senator Thompson has spent the last year or so writing numerous articles and ABC radio speeches showing the general direction of his philosophy. Anyone interested in his basic opinions on the role of government and the American character need only peruse a few of those to have the questions answered on that level — and this is quite like how Reagan feathered his bona-fides nest before he ran for President, by the way.

Next Rubin hits the he’s-only-an-actor button.

His “elder statesman” screen persona obscures the fact he is the most inexperienced of the major G.O.P. contenders, with seven dimly remembered years as U.S. Senator, no area of expertise, no executive experience and no major legislative achievements bearing his name.

Again… how is he worse than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton? And, it should be pointed out that few of our past presidents had long lists of legislative success and such “achievements bearing their names” in Congress. Not all of them were in Congress for any length of time before becoming president in the first place and the ones that were rarely had a high profile when there. There haven’t been many past presidents heavily involved in Congress once we passed the era when the founders left the national stage. The James K. Polk’s, William McKinley’s, and Lyndon Johnson’s of Congress who went on to the highest office were not as numerous as the country got on its feet and past the integral Founder’s era.

As an example, Abraham Lincoln was a nonentity as a Congressman, lost his seat and a bid for the Senate before he suddenly rose to become President. Some people sort of think he did a good job as President despite all that “failure”!

Also, Rubin attacks Hoover as the “worst”, then attacks Fred as having “no experience” or past “success”, but if we look to Hoover’s pre Presidential life we find a man who had one of the most conspicuous achievements of his day. After the close of WWI Hoover’s was almost a household name as he became famous the world over as the man who fed a starving Europe with his successful food distribution programs and charity work.

So much for Hoover being worst, or for his previous good works to seem the perfect reflection of his efficacy for ascending to the White House.

Rubin also doesn’t seem to understand Reagan’s era much, either.

Classic change candidates offer personal vision, new ideas, and the hope that business will not be conducted as usual if elected. Ronald Reagan in particular offered a new vision of conservative governance and redefined his party.

Reagan ran as a kinder, Gentler Barry Goldwater when you get right down to it. He harkened back to that ideology after so many decades of failed far left liberalism far more than presenting any “new” ideas. Many chided him as a man with NO ideas when he ran and the he’s-just-an-actor charge was applied to him endlessly on top of that. The Reagan Democrats, and the GOP faithful they joined to elect the man, voted for him because of his sunny optimism, his ability to act glibly and competently in front of the cameras and his love for the real America. He seemed fresh because of that, but not because of any “new” ideas, necessarily.

Mr. Thompson, of course, isn’t the only candidate hobbled by the difficulty in defining his own identity. The best thing going for him continues to be the anxiety that Republican voters feel about their other choices.

“Hobbled by the difficulty in defining his own identity”? Where does that even come from? The Senator’s identity is firmly established in the minds of the few faithful who know him and are urging him to run. There is no “hobbling” going on there. Now, he is not as well known to the general public, sure, but since they don’t know him at all… there’s no “hobbling” there, either?

What is “hobbling” the man?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate some of the direction of Rubin’s piece in many ways. Her recommendations for focus on policy is certainly good. And, if she had written the piece as a more optimistic “this is what you should do” piece instead of one seeming to slam Thompson as an empty suit, the thing would have been much better. So, while the end of her piece is better than the beginning, it has the unfortunate effect of giving her MSM colleagues the idea that the Senator can be attacked as the faux Reagan candidate.

While Rubin seems to recognize that Thompson has yet to really make his case (after all, he is not yet “in” the race), still she is jumping the gun to proclaim his emptiness on the issues. Can’t we wait until he makes his case before we call him an empty suit, at least? He can absolutely fail to energize the base if his real campaign doesn’t take flight — and that will be all on him if it happens. But can’t we at least let it get off the launching pad before we try to shoot it down?

In any case, the faux Reagan charge seems like one we may be hearing more of. I guess we’ll add it to the list of he’s-just-an-actor, and the he’s disloyal and lazy charges.

I hope the Senator and his supporters have strong stomachs, this one could be a mean ‘un.

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