January 8, 2007

Does Tommy Thompson have a chance?

Here's a quote from him:
"This is a big step and I want to make sure that we can do this," Thompson said. "I don't want to be on any fools errand at my age. If I run, I want to run to win. I don't want to run for second place, third place, or fourth place."
(I wanted to use that quote in the title for this post, but I couldn't find a single press account that put the apostrophe in "fool's errand," and I don't use brackets or "sic" in post titles if I can help it.)

So, really, is it a fool's errand?
"I think it is made to order for me," said Thompson. "If I had to paint a scenario as to how I could go form [sic] Elroy, Wis., to be governor and run for president, this would be the scenario that I would have: No frontrunner, a lot of candidates, the Republican party is in terrible trouble."

In other words, if it's a complete crapshoot, he's got as good a chance as anyone? That's not very inspiring.

ADDED: Wispolitics has the apostrophe right. They've also got the audio for the press conference, which is very low key. Thompson sounds modest and casual, and the crowd in the background seems to be going on with their own conversations.


MadisonMan said...

Wow, 20 years since he was elected Gov. It seems like just yesterday I was voting for Tony Earl instead of TT (I've always thought Earl got a raw deal -- he inherited a budget catastrophe from Republican Governor, just like Doyle).

I wonder about Thompson's health -- he'd be turning 70 in office, if elected (and today I'd take him over any Senator running), but he's never really struck me as someone who will live a long time. I think he'd make the Campaign interesting.

Unknown said...

A chance?

Only if Giuliani doesn't run, Romney proves radioactive, and McCain can't turn the corner as the front runner.

He might be the best of the second division candidates, waiting for the first division candidates to falter. He certainly ranks ahead of Brownback and Hunter. I like that he was once a governor and has federal executive branch experience, albeit primarily with enacting Medicare Part D, the costs of which he is implicated. This will prove difficult to overcome with limited government and fiscal hawk types; and then there is that lingering issue in the background - national security and the war on terror - to which he seemingly brings nothing to the table.

Art said...

He is a former governor which gives him an automatic leg up. The Democratic field is loaded up with Senators who will have to wrestle with the war in Iraq. All the Republicans will have to do is run a "what me worry? I didn't do nothing about no war in Iraq..I was in the capitol cutting taxes" Governor and rack up the "for it before he was against it" tapes.
And Tommy had the good sense to break off relations with the Bush administration after the first term.

Troy said...

I don't know much about the man, but I think his comment is inspiring in that it is truthful. I've had enough of people who have been aiming since they were 12 to be President. So he didn't have a pre-teen vision for his country? He's not the Golden Child.

He seems (through that one comment anyway) to be under no delusions as to his fame.

Peter Hoh said...

There is a tide to the affairs of men, and Tommy Thompson missed his chance, if he ever really had one. The public might warm to a midwestern governor, but not one whose star has lost its luster.

Chris said...

I don't think you should have trouble replacing spoken material with a homophone. But the Greenburg headline should've been "[H]e told me ..." And that was in print.

Anonymous said...

I doubt if he could even win the Wisconsin Republican primary. In the miraculous case of being nominated, I can't believe he could even carry the state in the general election, considering the way it's gone Democrat in recent years. He's just a genial ex-governor goof from Wisconsin with nowhere near the amount of good looks, charisma, vision or communication skills needed for a national election.

Anonymous said...

I probably voted for Tommy each time he ran for governor (he ran so many times I can't remember each specific election) but if he becomes President I'm moving to Canada! The thought just scares me. I don't think he's smart enough to be President.

Mark Daniels said...

Thompson has always struck me as a straight-shooter. His time at HHS was marked by some alienation from the Bush White House, which may be an asset in GOP circles in 2008.

The fact is, this thing is wide-open. Enthusiasm for McCain is flagging. Giuliani is unlikely to win the nomination. Romney has a shot, but I think that he's so afraid of replicating his father's experience in 1968, that he is a robotic campaigner.

The informal rules of "succession" are different in Republican circles. Republican voters tend to play it a bit safer than Democratic ones, sticking with known entities, making it tougher for dark horses to win the nomination. So, that's a definite mark against Thompson.

But, being a governor is always a plus in a run for the presidency. By most accounts, Thompson had a good tenure as in Wisconsin.

If he can catch fire in Iowa, he could make it interesting.


sonicfrog said...

I.m sure he's a nice guy, but he doesn't seem to have much of a spark under the hood. Is he the Orin Hatch character in the next election?

If he were to become the national nominee, he has at least a couple of real policy negatives attached to his reputation - embyonic stem cell policy and medicare-D, neither of which are popular with the general public, especially medicare-D.

Tom said...

As an independent voter in Iowa, I'm certainly willing to listen to what he has to say. I liked some of what he did as governor of Wisconsin, and unlike some, I'm not willing to completely discount him simply because he served in the Bush administration. I like his moderate tendencies, too, and his apparent belief that compromise does not equal weakness. However, I have to admit that from what I've seen so far, he hasn't left me feeling to inspired. Unfortunately, that tends to be the case with most candidates running in both parties.

Ann Althouse said...

What's the source of the "Tommy Thompson is dumb" meme? I see that he once said "encephalopoulus" for "encephalitis" (and I'm still laughing about it), but what else? I see myself called dumb every day on the web, so to me, it translates immediately into "I don't like your politics."

Anonymous said...

Ann, it's been a long time since I had any thoughts about Tommy Thompson so I can't back up my feeling. It's just the impression I was left with. I readily admit it might be unfair.

Also, "not smart enough" is not the same thing as "dumb". I'd like my President to be really sharp, and that's not the vibe I get from Thompson (again, I could be wrong). As for "dumb = I don't like your politics", I voted for him repeatedly, so I liked his politics so that's not it for me.

Art said...

Mike said:
"I don't think he's smart enough to be President."

Possible Thompson slogan: "Tommy Thompson: Smarter than the guy there now."

((And Ann, I don't think you're dumb. Misguided sometimes, but not dumb."))

YAMB said...

The source of his reputed "dumbness" is, I think, the way he talks. He talks like someone from northern Wisconsin. He also looks like someone from the sticks (I haven't seen a photo lately; I know he was on a slim-down kick for a while).

Also, while HHS secretary he tried to convince the public that the first reported case of anthrax infection might have been picked up while the individual was hunting. Maybe just covering up/carrying water for the Bush administration, but it sounded in-credible as soon as he uttered the words.

But mostly it's the way he talks. You can get away with sounding like a redneck if you're from the south (John Edwards, e.g.), but not from the Midwest.

Mark Daniels said...

As a recovering liberal Democrat, I feel well-qualified to make an observation: Going back to at least the Eisenhower years, there has been an automatic assumption on the part of some to simply and summarily dismiss Republicans as stupid or inconsequential.

Just last night on '60 Minutes,' Andy Rooney gave voice to the canard that Eisenhower spent his eight years in the White House playing golf. Even if one were inclined to believe that before the release of Ike's presidential papers, there can be no excuse for buying the lie--or spreading it--after their release. He was an intelligent person.

Gerald Ford was also dismissed for being stupid, in spite of having gone to Yale Law School...and he was no legacy student, to be sure.

In fact, every Republican president and most Republican candidates for president in the past fifty years has received this tag. So have some Dems with which libDems disagreed. This crowd hated Truman and loved Stevenson, disdained Hubert and Scoop while worshiping RFK and Eugene McCarthy, and so on.

I've heard Chris Matthews talk about this as well. It's interesting coming from a guy who, while more of a political independent today, cut his political eyeteeth as a Democrat.

Nonetheless, here in the reddest part of Ohio, I hear Republicans dismissing Democrats as stupid, too. But I don't observe it as much on the macro level or in the media.


hdhouse said...

run for what?...you have got to be kidding right?

John Kindley said...

While Tommy Thompson was governor of Wisconsin he was personally petitioned to look into whether the brochure published by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services to comply with Wisconsin's abortion informed consent law was deficient in that it failed to mention the increased risk of breast cancer associated with abortion. (Corresponding government brochures in several other states do mention this risk.) Thompson did forward a copy of the Wisconsin Law Review comment I authored on this subject (available at www.proinformation.net) to the Department for comment, but the brief report the Department produced in response (written by an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin) skirted around the central legal issues and instead basically consisted of a bald policy judgment that since the science in the area was controversial and controverted there should not be informed consent. Thompson apparently washed his hands of the matter and no further action was taken. Thompson thus in this instance abdicated his responsibility to ensure that an administrative agency under his executive authority conformed its policies to fundamental laws, and as a result women in Wisconsin have been kept in the dark about this serious health threat ever since.

Later, as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, he was credited with causing the removal of erroneous information from the National Cancer Institute's fact sheet on abortion and breast cancer, but after Congressman Henry Waxman et al. and an editorial in the New York Times raised hell and accused the Bush administration of manipulating science for political ends, Thompson apparently caved again and left the NCI (or more specifically, pro-abortion ideologues close to its helm) to their own nefarious and dishonest devices.

In his defense, other politicians would likely not even have taken the meager steps he took in the positions he held. Politicians unfortunately make most of their decisions based upon their calculations of what will keep them in power, and it's easy to surmise that in this case the political risks of taking a principled position on the abortion - breast cancer link outweigh potential political rewards. Perhaps it will take further change in the public's perception of abortion for abortion to lose its privileged status and for the evidence linking it to increased breast cancer risk to be reevaluated objectively. If Thompson is elected president, his own prior decisions and non-decisions with respect to this matter should not stand in the way of such a reevaluation.

Chris said...

A Democrat friend of mine who worked at OMB said she was very impressed with Thompson on the one occasion she had to work with him for several hours on some sort of project.

Ultimate_Lawyer said...

Has ANYONE with such a pronounced midwestern accent ever won the presidency? I think not. For some reason, the Wisconsin accent makes people sound moronic, regardless of how intelligent they actually are. It also makes people appear unattractive, regardless of how beautiful they are. I don't know why this isn't the case with very pronounced Southern or Northeastern accents, but it definitely is for a slew of midwestern accents.

MadisonMan said...

For some reason, the Wisconsin accent makes people sound moronic, regardless of how intelligent they actually are.

Which Wisconsin accent? The one from Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Spooner, or Elroy?

Ultimate_Lawyer said...

MadisonMan, it's far more difficult to differentiate b/w various Wisconsin accents than you imply. The point is that they all sound dreadful. I'm referring to concepts such as arbitrarily inserting the letter "l" in any word that has a long "o" (e.g. home is pronounced "holme"), arbitrarily concluding sentences w/the tag "ya know," arbitrarily removing lettes from some words (e.g. Milwaukee becomes Ma-wau-kee), and arbitrarily increasing the # of syllables in words. These concepts pervade the 'sconnie accent regardless of whether one is from Elroy, Madison, Green Bay, Spoolner, or Mawaukee. Perhaps that's partially due to the fact that Mawaukee - as former interim mayor Marvin Pratt's wife told the New York Times in 2004 - is "redneck America citified."

In any event, no rational person can honestly believe that Thompson has a chance. Just imagine his wretched sconnie voice in a 30-second spot, or god forbid, a debate.

MadisonMan said...

Mawaukee - as former interim mayor Marvin Pratt's wife told the New York Times in 2004 - is "redneck America citified."

Gee, I wonder if her opinion had any sour grapes in it. Her husband was booted from office that year. Her son had just slashed the tires on Republican cars. I'm so sure her opinion of Milwaukee should carry weight.

Whatever problem you find in Milwaukee you'll find in any other big city (exception: The refigerator Lake Breeze on what would have been a nice Spring Day is peculiar to Milwaukee and Chicago). Whatever peculiarities in dialect in Wisconsin are echoed anywhere else in the country.

Anonymous said...

Ultimate_Lawyer: MM's question was a joke.

I'd rather sound moronic than be moronic.

Ben Masel said...

Tommy won't sweep the Primaries, but has a decent chance to emerge from a brokered Convention, which looks more likely with Ron Paul's entry.

I see the Primaries fractured regionally.