Failure to use the past six months to craft an inspirational, exciting campaign can be partly explained by the exclusionist attitude of the old friends and political professionals in possession of Thompson's candidacy.Novak blames Mary Matalin, whom he calls "a Washington insider who does not espouse the socially conservative views Thompson is expected to project by those Republicans in search of a nominee." It sounds like Novak has a lot of old friends himself, and they are being excluded from the campaign they want in on. And Novak seems to think that the Thompson campaign is trying to keep the candidate from looking too conservative. So Novak is on the attack because he wants his friends to get jobs and he wants Thompson to be quite conservative. I expected Thompson to make a showier start, but that doesn't mean his approach isn't a deliberate strategy that will ultimately play out well. And I'll like it if Thompson isn't too conservative, just like I like it that Clinton isn't too liberal.
Thompson's great asset remains the collective glass jaw of his opponents. Giuliani is not only a social liberal in a socially conservative party but is burdened with a life story that makes Democrats tremble with anticipation. Romney, who has transformed himself from liberal to conservative on social issues, seems to many Republicans to be a multimillionaire investment banker willing to make any deal (though his biggest problem with evangelicals and strict Catholics is his Mormon faith). McCain seemed his old feisty self in the New Hampshire debate, but on Sunday he came across as melancholy on ABC's "This Week." So there is still a void. But can Thompson fill it?Perhaps he is filling it, just by not being any of those things. Why then should he be any more specific or exciting than he's been? It's worked well so far. It's possible that he knows what he is doing.