Monday, August 13, 2007

Tommy '08 Postmortem

Astonishingly, there were at least a few people from outside Wisconsin that decided there were lessons to be learned from Tommy Thompson's presidential bid.

From David Schraub:

All the people who said Barack Obama should have waited a cycle before running for President should take a close look at the case of former Wisconsin Governor and Bush cabinet member Tommy Thompson. Thompson was considered a potential front-runner for the GOP nomination in both 1996 and 2000, but he declined to run. This time, he threw his hat in the race, and proceeded to get completely annihilated before withdrawing today after a bad performance at the Ames Straw Poll.

Moral of the story: Don't miss your window.

And from a very ornery Roger Simon:

And since I am in a disagreeable mood today (I picked up a bad cold at the Iowa State Fair; I will never do a kissing booth again) ...

See what I mean?

...let me disagree with those who are saying that former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson dropped out of the Republican presidential race Sunday night because of his poor showing in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll on Saturday.

In reality, the Ames Straw Poll was Thompson's excuse to end a disastrous campaign that had accomplished nothing but diminishing a reputation it took Thompson decades to build.

Simon goes on to retrace the gaffes that alienated Jews and gays that caused Team Thompson a good deal of consternation before reviewing his performance at Ames:

Thompson had been a popular political figure in Wisconsin -- having been elected to an unprecedented four terms as governor -- and also was secretary of Health and Human Services.

So what does he do at Ames in what he knows will probably be his last national speech?

He insults Muslims.

"I went to Afghanistan, and women couldn't go out of their homes without a burqa," Thompson told the crowd. "Wouldn't that have been nice today in this temperature?"

As I write this column, the temperature in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, is 95 degrees, which is hotter than Ames was on Saturday when Thompson spoke. And, I guarantee you, women are walking around in burqas in the sun without being as addled as Thompson was without one in air conditioning.

Which does not mean that he has not left his mark.

In the future, anybody who thinks about running for president and asks, "What can I lose?" should consider the case of Tommy Thompson.

[He really wasn't kidding about being a bit pissy, was he?]

Today's events perfectly summarized Thompson's presidential campaign. Normally someone of Thompson's stature leaving the race would attract a decent deal of media attention -- there should have been a few retrospectives highlighting his resume followed by analyses from various experts on why someone with so much experience did so poorly, etc. But as it happened, even the announcement of his withdrawal was overshadowed by the news of Karl Rove's resignation.

Then again, maybe that was for the best.

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