Mimsy Were the Borogoves

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

Fred Thompson’s decision to withdraw

Jerry Stratton, January 24, 2008

When Fred Thompson dropped out after South Carolina, I was disappointed. I jotted down some notes for blogging, but there wasn’t much to say; his reasons were at least partly personal, tied to his mother’s illness. I was disappointed that he left so early, but it’s hard to get angry at someone for dropping out when their mother is in the hospital.

But this is bullshit:

Oh, Dear: Fred Would Have Picked Up All 47 of Louisiana's Delegates Had He Not Dropped Out? It seems possible, even likely. Is this proof Fred should have stayed in? Well, with all due respect: Running an organization which was apparently clueless to this fact and thus dropping out hours before one's first actual win seems to indicate the opposite—he made the right choice. I hate to be a dick about this, but a politician should have a basic competence at politics, for crying out loud.

You’re being a dick. Maybe we all are. Basic competence at politics shouldn’t have to mean throwing your mother under the bus. Fred Thompson is 65 years old. His mother is in the hospital. He’s sixty-five years old and his mother is in the hospital. He’s private enough that I can’t find his mother’s age but she has to be at least in her late eighties. A candidate in his position has three choices:

  1. He can continue campaigning, and his mother might die while he’s on the campaign trail.
  2. He can put his campaign on hold and stay with his mother until she dies, but she might not.
  3. He can exit the race to be with his mother.

In Thompson’s position, I think most of today’s candidates would hold a tearful press conference and announce that they’d talked to their mother and she’d sternly told them to endeavor to persevere and now they were going to go out and win, by golly. The rest would choose the second option, with one eye on the EKG and the other on the calendar.

This year might have been Thompson’s only chance to be president; but it might also be his last chance to spend time with his mother. The fact that Thompson is the kind of person to choose family over power is one of the reasons we supported him.

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