After unmercifully pummeling Fred Thompson from the beginning of his presidential campaign (see this week's Scene cover story
), the media have apparently decided to keep his candidacy alive for whatever entertainment value he can provide in the runup to the Iowa caucuses.
The reviews of yesterday's GOP debate are in, and Thompson's doing surprisingly well, although most commentators hedge their praise by pointing out that he couldn't do much worse without keeling over dead on the stage. The New York Times
is a case in point:
Mr. Thompson, whose laid-back performance on the stump has sometimes drawn criticism, gave one of his more animated debate performances.
After Mr. Romney, talking about the tax code, said that he did not stay awake at night worrying about the taxes paid by the rich but did worry about those paid by the middle class, Mr. Thompson said, “My goal is to get into Mitt Romney’s situation, where I don’t have to worry about taxes anymore.”
He also scored an indirect hit on Mr. Huckabee when he said the biggest obstacle to improving education was the National Education Association, a union whose New Hampshire affiliate has endorsed Mr. Huckabee.
Most everybody was very excited about Thompson's dissing of the Des Moines Register
moderator. The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol
My strong sense, from several visits to Iowa, is that Iowa Republicans really dislike the Des Moines Register. So, more perhaps than some national commentators appreciate, the Fred Thompson takedown of Carolyn Washburn could help ignite his Iowa campaign in the home stretch.
Really? So a candidate who has basically no organization in Iowa, who has spent relatively little time campaigning there, who's falling in the polls, who has been mocked and ridiculed for months as a lazy lout, can suddenly spring to life by refusing to answer a question in a debate?