To my great surprise, at the National Review site, former Sen. Fred Thompson responded to my TNR piece (cross-posted here) last week making him the symbol of disappointing, half-hearted dark-horse candidates for president.
Like TNR’s Jonathan Chait, I found Thompson’s response interesting, humorous, and even endearing. He did, unfortunately, interpret an entirely metaphorical reference to “abundant stops for rest and ice cream” much too literally. But if I have repeated inaccurate reporting of his actual comings and goings at the 2007 Iowa State Fair, I apologize. As an attendee of that particular fair (though not the same day as Fred), I am quite sure that he was perceived as violating Fair Mores, even if he actually didn’t, and I wish he had gone to more trouble to set the record straight back then.
He didn’t much deal with the broader issues my article raised, but that’s okay. My main point was to upbraid Republican opinion-leaders for their endless faith in late-entering dark-horse candidates. And Fred Thompson provides a warning vastly more credible and vivid than mine:
So Mr. or Ms. Dark Horse, you have not played by the rules, you late-comer, and your belly fire is suspect. And people will go to great lengths to prove their suspicions correct. Therefore, you must be willing to run over your grandmother, mortgage your soul, and behave like an over-caffeinated Elmer Gantry in order to make up for your insolence. Only then will they be comfortable with the idea of your being president.
Thank you, Senator.