Fred Thompson Hasn’t Been Doing His Homework

Besides Duncan Hunter, whom I used to consult for, Fred Thompson is my 2nd favorite candidate running for President.

Although he has done “OK” since his official entry into the race, it’s pretty clear that he hasn’t done the necessary prep work for a run.

When you run for the presidency, you are going to get asked every question under the sun, about every aspect of the government, and you’re expected to either have a stock answer ready or at least be able to give that impression as you dodge the question. In Fred’s case, he’s not meeting that standard.

No, he hasn’t really stuck his foot in it yet, but he’s made a whole heck of a lot of minor gaffes. For example, here’s Fred on Terri Schiavo,

“Thompson was asked in an interview for Bay News 9’s “Political Connections” program whether he thought Congress’ intervention to save the life of the brain-dead woman two years ago was appropriate.

“I can’t pass judgment on it. I know that good people were doing what they thought was best,” Thompson said. “That’s going back in history. I don’t remember the details of it.”

Ehr…it was huge and it’s not “going back in history” that far; it just happened in 2005, and it was a big issue for pro-lifers. If Fred doesn’t remember the details of what happened, it makes me question whether he was paying attention to politics or just going to Hollywood dinner parties with his wife.

Here’s a second example: George Will, in an overwrought, unnecessarily nasty column that makes me think that he’s in the bag for another candidate and attacking Fred for that reason, did quite successfully shred what Fred said about McCain-Feingold. Here’s an excerpt,

Thompson said he had advocated McCain-Feingold to prevent, among other things, corporations and labor unions from “giving large sums of money to individual politicians.” But corporate and union contributions to individual candidates were outlawed in 1907 and 1947, respectively.

Ingraham asked about McCain-Feingold’s ban on issue ads that mention a candidate close to an election. He blamed an unidentified “they” who “added on” that provision, which he implied was a hitherto undiscussed surprise. But surely he knows that bills containing the ban had been introduced in previous sessions of Congress before passage in 2002.

In 1997, Thompson chaired a Senate committee investigating 1996 election spending. In its final report, issued in 1998, Thompson’s committee recommended a statutory “restriction on issue advocacy” during “a set period prior to an election” when the speech includes “any use of a candidate’s name or image.” And in 1999, Thompson co-sponsored legislation containing what became, in 2002, the McCain-Feingold blackout periods imposed on any television or radio ad that “refers to” a candidate for federal office — a portion of which the Supreme Court in June declared unconstitutional.

Thompson, contrary to his current memories, was deeply involved in expanding government restrictions on political speech generally and the ban on issue ads specifically. Yet he told Ingraham “I voted for all of it,” meaning McCain-Feingold, but said “I don’t support that” provision of it.

Oh? Why, then, did he file his own brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold McCain-Feingold, stressing Congress’ especially “compelling interest” in squelching issue ads that “influence” elections?

In the New Media/YouTube Era, when everything a politician says in public is immediately catalogued and broadcast to the world, a pol can’t afford to make these kind of sloppy mistakes.

Again, Fred hasn’t seriously damaged himself yet, but it’s practically a certainty that he will if he doesn’t get his game up to speed in a hurry.

PS: If you want to know why Fred is shying away from debates, I’d say this explains it.

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