One of the inherently unfair aspects of covering presidential politics is that the more fun a candidate is to ridicule, the more likely they'll just drop out of the race. Right now, my two favorites are new-comer Thompson and Giuliani. Giuliani I think will hang in for awhile longer, but at some point he's going to have to realize that he has no business running for president and should have just stuck with milking his 9/11 fame for all the money it's worth.
But as I've said before, I think Thompson has already got to be approaching the point where he's just looking for an honorable exit. He doesn't even have Giuliani's feeble 9/11 justification for running, nor his love of attacking liberals. And he just keeps making mistakes and doesn't seem at all interested in knowing what the hell he's talking about. And for as much as people suggest this is just a copy of Bush, it isn't. No matter how lamebrained Bush is, he still made a point of having a minimum level of soundbites to handle any particular situation; at least when he's campaigning anyway.
But Thompson can't even muster that. I seriously doubt he's as unknowledgeable on key issues as he appears to be. The problem is he hasn't been fed the proper lines to do the tightrope walk required by all Republican candidates. Because it's simply impossible to be straightforward while pleasing both the Republican base and the general population. But that's the problem: Thompson isn't supposed to be that kind of candidate. He's actually supposed to be an honest truth-teller who says what he believes, but that's the surest way for a Republican to fail. So what can he do but plead ignorance and keep things as vague as possible?
And now I see that James Dobson is against the guy. So what's the point? Thompson doesn't seem to know anything. Doesn't care to know anything. He's lazy. And now he's got Dobson against him. Even worse, Dobson is complaining about many of the same things I just noted.
"Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won't talk at all about what he believes, and can't speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?" Dobson wrote.
"He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent 'want to.' And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!"
Besides what he said about the Constitutional amendment and McCain-Feingold, I agree with everything he wrote. And that's really bad. It's dumb but natural for a Republican presidential nominee to offend liberals. It's dumber but not fatal for a Republican presidential nominee to offend the religious right. But to offend both the liberals and the religious right for the same reasons? That's it. He loses. It's over.
So why is he running? What's the point? As Dobson said, Thompson can't speak his way out of a paper bag and doesn't give a shit. So why does he bother? I'm guessing there's a little bit of egoness involved. But as I suggested in a previous post, I'm guessing this was his wife's doing. She saw an opening and wants to run a presidential campaign. But this isn't going to last forever. It can't. He's too pathetic of a candidate and he's just embarrassing himself. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if his official presidential campaign lasts less time than his speculative one.
The Discounted Rate
And then what? We've got Giuliani, but he's already boring me. It's like the guy has been in a deep freeze since May 2003 and hasn't yet noticed that the political and rhetorical landscape have changed a wee bit. He's like George Bush, but without the compassion, subtlety, and open policy agenda. And sure, he's smarter and meaner, but Bush was marketed as being dumb and nice and it worked out pretty well for him. It made people trust him. Sure nasty lies were said about Bush's opponents, but Bush wasn't the one you heard it from.
But Giuliani doesn't have that. He's running an attack dog campaign as the chief attack dog, and it just doesn't work like that. The more people see Giuliani acting like a prick, the more he'll bury himself.
Like the whole MoveOn-BetrayUs thing and how Giuliani attacked the NY Times for supposedly giving MoveOn a huge discount on the ad. As he said:
“We’re going to call upon the New York Times to give us the same rate, heavily discounted rate that they gave MoveOn.org for that abominable ad that was very very coincidentally published on the day that Gen Petraeus testified.”
At the time, I imagined that was dumb bravado talking, and as with most conservatives, he wouldn't bother following up on what was obviously a cheap rhetorical line. But no, Giuliani actually went ahead and bought an ad at that same, "heavily discounted" rate they gave MoveOn; thus undermining his original conspiracy theory against the Times. I'm sure their advertising department laughed all the way to the bank.
The GOP Field
But his schtick is already old. At least with Thompson we get a whole variety of blunders, misstatements, and cope-outs; all which undermine the very reason we're discussing him. But with Giuliani, we just get a dumb attack dog. A schoolyard bully who fancies himself clever because he can still get applause from the wanna-be bullies who look up to him. But that's no way to run a political campaign. Even his policy proposals are little more than poor excuses to attack Democrats. Who cares. He won't win the nomination and shouldn't even last all the way to the primaries.
And so who does that leave us with? Alan Keyes? Forget about it. It's not as fun when the funniest thing you can say about a candidate is to quote their own words. Same goes for the rest of the GOP pack. All we're getting is reruns. At least with Giuliani we get a greatest hits collection from 2003. The rest of those dudes have just be treading water with the same material since the 90's. A bunch of moralistic woohaw that continues to draw fewer and fewer listeners with each passing year. It's like a movie studio which only releases sequels and remakes and can't understand why their sales keep slipping.
And that leaves us with boring old Mitt Romney. Sure, you can land a 747 on his shoulders, but I'm sad to say they probably won't. He'll run an effective campaign, but the base won't fully support him and the attack machine won't fit his style properly. Frankly, I think they've decided to take a pass on owning the Whitehouse in 2008. As Bush has noted before, presidenting is hard work. It's much easier to attack from the sidelines.
On a final note, I'd just like to apologize for a post I wrote mentioning Thompson back in April (can you believe his presidential speculation had been going on that long?). In that post, I suggested that Thompson was an "actual conservative" and a "free-thinker," and speculated on what would happen if he could somehow win the Whitehouse and institute a real conservative agenda, independent of what the Republican leadership wanted. It was obvious I was writing out of ignorance and I apologize.