Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

What voters want

Jerry Stratton, January 2, 2008

A round-up of commentary on our desire for a totally insane type-A president.

Paul Marks started it off at Samizdata.net:

Fred Thompson is in the middle of a 40 town Iowa tour—so he is hardly lazy. And he does go on television shows—thus dealing with critics, such as myself, who attacked him for not going on enough shows. But what sort of person would enjoy all this? A lunatic. Someone who was interested in office for its own sake—not as a means to reduce the size and scope of government.

What the media are saying is that Fred Thompson is too sane to be President. It is not enough to produce detailed policies for dealing with the entitlement program Welfare State, or producing a new optional flat tax to deal with the nightmare of complexity that the income tax has become. It is not even enough to have a long record of service.

No—someone has to enjoy the prospect for office for its own sake, not to reduce the size and scope of government and restore a Federal Republic. One must enjoy the whole process of politics—i.e. be crazy. Or one must pretend to enjoy it—i.e. be a liar. And then people complain that politicians are either crazy or corrupt.

Glenn Reynolds continued at Instapundit.com:

I think he’s right. Thompson is running the kind of campaign—substantive, policy-laden, not based on gimmicks or sound-bites—that pundits and journalists say they want, but he’s getting no credit for it from the people who claim that’s what they want. It’s like in Tootsie when Dustin Hoffman tries doing the things he’s heard women say they want from men, only to discover that they don’t really want those things at all.

Jonathan Adler at the corner:

In short, some say Thompson doesn’t want to be President badly enough. At a time when Presidential wannabes plot their moves years (if not decades) in advance, that should be a feature, not a bug.

Jimmie talks about rewarding good campaign behavior at the Sundries Shack:

Thompson is running precisely the sort of campaign that a whole lot of people have complained that they never see anymore—bereft of clever sound bytes, no attack ads, positive and upbeat with detailed and substantial policy proposals, going directly to the people and generally avoiding the big-market MSM outlets. He’s been sincere about his goals and honest about his ambition. For that, he’s gotten less than nothing. It would have been great for him had the MSM generally ignored him. They’ve done worse. He’s been misquoted and misrepresented, or simply dismissed as “lazy”.

Here’s what it really comes down to. Fred Thompson is doing what a whole lot of us have wanted politicians to do for a very long time: step away from the dog and pony shows, meet us as equals, and respect us enough to tell us exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it. He ought to get a lot of credit for that. We should be insisting that the other candidates do it, too. Perhaps we can send that message by giving him a few primary wins. Or we could send the message that blow-dried hair, a pretty delivery style, and attack ads are what we really prefer.

Remember, you encourage the behavior you reinforce.

Patterico cries bingo:

Our moronic news media, which pretends to disdain overambitious candidates and to care about policies—doesn’t really care about substance. For them, it’s all about the horse race, the gimmicks, and the pizzazz.

And so, when a guy like Thompson comes along, who is serious and substantive—but maybe a little dull—they focus on the dullness. If he seems not to be driven by a lifelong hunger for power, they’ll distort his honest and engaging quotes on the subject to make him sound like he doesn’t care.

These people are full of it. The next time they tell you they care about the issues and matters of substance, remind them how they treated Fred Thompson. They won’t show any shame. But that doesn’t mean you can’t show them that you know better.

Rob asks point blank if we want crazy presidents at Say Anything:

It’s the sort of political campaign we all talk about wanting to see when we start getting cynical about politics. I suspect the real problem is that the media makes its bread and butter off of controversial campaign and attention-grabbing grandstanding. But Thompson isn’t willing to dance for them, so he gets tagged as “lazy.” Not because he is lazy, but because he won’t be their trained monkey.

Bob Krumm goes back six years to quote Glenn Reynolds. Are we selecting for kooks?

In response to Super-president: The best president we can have is not a cartoon character.