Unready Freddy

My take in the Sunday Times:

Thompson is accused of being lazy. So was Ronald Reagan, of course. But there is a key difference between the Reagan of 1979 and the Thompson of 2007. Reagan had spent a lifetime honing arguments, finessing policy, articulating a broad philosophical view, while proposing concrete and radical policy options.

Thompson has a legislative record as a senator from Tennessee that is all but invisible. Yes, he has a solid conservative record on taxes and other people’s spending. But he was a hog for his home-state pork barrel projects. He was, in other words, a popular backbencher – but no more. At times his candidacy feels merely like a rationale for a man who senses that Americans are deeply uneasy about their current leadership, wants to reassure them, but has no idea substantively how.

A thinker he isn’t. He’s rather a conveyor of mood. In a period of less moment, when less is at stake, this might be an aesthetic preference: a calm presence in a storm. But on the substance of war, and foreign policy, the Thompson shtick can seem somewhat detached from the needs of the moment.