9/20/2007

The Fred Thompson Disconnect: Part II

I recently wrote about Fred Thompson's unpreparedness to answer various questions about issues that a credible presidential candidate should reasonably be expected to have a grasp of. Drilling in Florida and Terri Schiavo were two of the issues of which Thompson expressed a surprising degree of ignorance.

The day after I wrote that post, I found a damning critique of Thompson written by Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson. Dobson wrote this critique in a private e-mail that eventually got leaked to the media. In the e-mail, Dobson blasted Thompson for not talking about what he really believes and "not being able to speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail."

Ouch.

Dobson then goes on to question Thompson's conservative credentials and express bewilderment about why such a disappointing candidate is considered the "Great Hope for conservative Christians" before concluding that he will not support his candidacy.

This is terrible news for Thompson. James Dobson is one of the most influential figures of the Christian right. Having such a luminary write off your campaign so forcefully is only going to keep Thompson off message while splintering the very constituency whose votes he was supposed to have a virtual lock on.

Before I go any further, I want to remind readers that The 7-10 is not a partisan blog. I have my own political leanings, but I am not a firebreather or a bomb-thrower. But I have to say that Fred Thompson has reached a whole new level of ridiculousness.

Today Thompson was asked about the infamous "Jena 6" on his way to a fundraiser. Anyone who has a television or reads a newspaper knows about this case as it has been in the national headlines for days now. Jesse Jackson, one of Republicans' favorite punching bags, even weighed in and broadsided Barack Obama (while further embarrassing himself) in the process.

Anyway, when Thompson was asked about the case, this was his response:

"I don't know anything about it."
Is this guy serious?

It's one thing to "not remember" something (even if it's something major and recent), but it's an entirely different matter to be completely ignorant of a major story happening so close to home right now. (The epicenter of the Jena 6 case is in Louisiana; Thompson hails from Tennessee.)

How in the world could a credible presidential candidate not know about major news happening in his own country? If Thompson doesn't know what's going on in Louisiana, how could he be trusted to know what's going on in Iraq? Or Iran? Or North Korea? Or China? Or at the dinner tables of poor and middle class families across the nation?

Thompson's simplicity and casual demeanor remind voters of what they initially liked about George Bush, especially when compared to John Kerry and Al Gore. But his obvious lack of intellectual curiosity, understanding of the issues, and actual preparation also remind voters of something else they have come to strongly dislike about Bush: incompetence.

I'm sure evangelical Christians were bewildered and a bit put off by his inability to remember anything about the Terri Schiavo controversy. But his ignorance of the Jena 6 is probably far more offensive to far more people. Should Thompson somehow win the Republican nomination, even Hillary Clinton could beat him in a landslide.

Look for Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee to make a strong pitch to evangelical voters who will almost certainly abandon the Thompson bandwagon in the wake of this nonsense. Newt Gingrich is probably also working on his own stump speech even as I type this blog. You are about to witness a spectacular political flameout. This is one less candidate that Rudy Giuliani has to worry about.

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Copyright 2007-2008 by Anthony Palmer. This material may not be republished or redistributed in any manner without the expressed written permission of the author, nor may this material be cited elsewhere without proper attribution. All rights reserved. The 7-10 is syndicated by Newstex.