Monday, August 13, 2007

'Poor Tommy' just doesn't have it

We don't remember Jessica McBride being so supportive of Tommy Thompson's presidential bid in the past, but now that it's over she's all for him:
I admire him for giving it a shot. He brought ideas to the table. It bothers me that money and media attention (which comes first, the chicken or the egg?) handicap the candidates, turning those without either one into punchlines. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, a governor without any accomplishments to match Tommy's (welfare reform, school choice, etc.) comes in first. Why? Because his mix of east coast celebrity, "presidential" looks, political name, and money made him "electable" in the minds of the media.

Campaign finance reform isn't the answer. It would be nice if the media would voluntarily stop handicapping the candidates based on money and star power. Rather, it would be nice if they simply reported on all of the candidates' ideas, forgetting such labels as "frontrunner", and focusing on the issues instead. Why should the media decide who's a "serious" candidate? And why is Mitt Romney a more serious candidate than Tommy Thompson, if you look at track record and ideas?
You can't blame it all on the media, Jessica.

If you want to know what Tommy's real problem was, look a little more closely at the candidate. The problem was Tommy.

He declared, and the media reported, time and again, that he would win in Iowa because it was retail politics -- the kind of politics where you didn't need a lot of money, or television advertising, because you could get to know the voters up close and personal.

After months of stumping the state, the candidates at Saturday's straw poll in Ames had probably met just about every one of the candidates.

There's the old joke about a reporter asking an Iowa farmer how he's going to vote in the straw poll. Does he like Tommy Thompson? "Can't say yet; he's only been in our house twice so far."

Iowa Republicans didn't reject Tommy Thompson because the NY Times told them he couldn't win.

They decided, after sizing him up against the rest of the pack, that he just didn't pack the gear.

Frankly, he comes off on TV like a doofus. He may be better in small groups or one-on-one, but he yells his speeches like he's angry at the audience. And he looks a little goofy, with his whitewall haircut. One observer said Tommy had either the worst haircut or the worst hairpiece they'd ever seen.

And, yes, appearances matter when you're running for president. It all counts.

McBride says Romney won because of good looks, money, media attention, a well-known name (? His father ran 40 years ago), and East Coast celebrity.

All of that isn't worth a warm bucket of milk in the Iowa straw poll, if you listen to the Iowans, or even to Tommy, describe it.

It's not like Tommy was edged out by Romney. Tommy placed sixth, with 7% of the vote. A mere 1,039 votes after all that money and work.

How does Jessica explain Mike Huckabee's second place finish? He got more than double Tommy's vote, at 18%. And Huckabee, former Arkansas governor, did not have good looks, money, media attention, a well-known name, or that killer, East Coast Celebrity. But he whipped Tommy pretty badly.

Heck, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, and Ron Paul -- the latter two candidates a lot of people joke about -- all beat Tommy.

You just can't hang it on the media.

Tommy just didn't have what it takes, and came up way short.

Now we can watch the debates without cringing every time we see him, hoping no one will say "Wisconsin."

UPDATE: Power Line, a national right wing blog, also bemoans Tommy's failure, but is honest enough to call him "uncharismatic." That counts, too.


  1. Spot on. Even if he didn't end up in their houses, they saw his historically doofus performances in the debates. And his record in the Cabinet is clear. And enough Iowans know enough Wisconsinites to have asked us how that W-2 has been doing.

    She does not know Iowans. They do not take their guidance from the NYTimes. (Wisconsinites don't, either. Heck, they rarely take their guidance from media here!)

    Thank you, Iowans. He stuck it to my Milwaukee, you stuck it to him for us. Now, if only it sticks this time, before he makes us have to explain again how he kept getting re-elected as our governor. (Well, on that one, our local media do get a lot of the blame -- but not reporting the news is not the same as editorialing on how to vote.)

  2. The funny thing is that local media gave credence to the idea that Thompson was a national player instead of the fact that he was considered a clown by the rest of the world, both inside and outside of the Beltway. On the plus side, Thompson kept at least a half an arm's length from the really odious wing of the state party, represented in all its ugliness by McBride.

  3. Huckabee got his votes from the Fair Tax people who want to abolish the IRS and mess with a bunch of other junk that would not actually be helpful to anyone in the real world.

    So it was outside money, but not Romney-style, East Coast money.

  4. Two words I've heard most used to describe Tommy Thompson by folks who've either interacted with him directly or heard him speak: rube & boob.

    Sure, his resume and track record looks good on paper, but once he opens his mouth to speak he does himself an incredible disservice