Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's time to really want it

Those who read my work regularly can vouch for the fact that I don't always write about what is comfortable. There are times that I am forced to discuss things that I would rather not, and confront the hard truth in regards to people and causes that I really believe in. I noticed this comment posted at The Tennessean's forum in regards to Fred Thompson's presidential campaign on Friday:

Fred Thompson is the only real logical choice for the Republican party, he is the only candidate in either field with common sense, and a no nonsense mentality.
Fred has got to hit the campaign trail hard though if we really wants to win. Listen to his views, ideas, and where he stands on the issues, that is enough to win most people over.

Truer words were never spoken-on both counts. Clearly this commenter believes in Fred Thompson in the same way that a lot of us do. We want to see the man who energized Tennesseans over two Senate campaigns and served in the U.S. Senate with great distinction. Most importantly, the voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina want to see the barnstorming Fred-the Fred that can woo a crowd with his homespun way of speaking and could charm a snake to death. Fred's message is right, but it just isn't getting out to many voters in early Primary States in the way that it needs to. The Iowa Caucus is six weeks away, and New Hampshire will vote the following week. We are no longer awaiting a presidential election cycle, that campaign is well underway. It is game on-right now.

How do we know that the message isn't clicking? The latest CNN/WMUR poll of New Hampshire Republicans shows Fred in sixth, with both Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee leading him. This is not a place where a man considered to be one of the frontrunners for the GOP nomination should be. He's down to fifth place in Florida with eight percent of the vote (six months ago, he was in second and hadn't even declared). The Florida Primary takes place right after South Carolina, so if Fred is running that low in Florida, the momentum from a South Carolina victory must be what convinces Republicans in Florida that Fred can get nominated.

South Carolina is the great Southern bellwether. The first State to secede is rightly the first in the South to hold a Primary. A victory there could save a campaign heading into Super Tuesday, and several campaigns have all but admitted that it will make them or break them. Yet in South Carolina, the State where Fred Thompson once held the lead, the aggregate of polls now shows him second behind Rudy Giuliani. Victory is still attainable for Fred in South Carolina, but to get there he must do something more beyond raising money.

Fred Thompson must do more than run television ads, he must get out and spend extended amounts of time in the early States. People in those places have grown accustomed to seeing the candidates, as well they should. It is a privilege more Americans would enjoy were it not for our insanely packed 2008 Primary schedule-but that schedule is what it is. That means that the States of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida will set the pace. If Fred Thompson is well behind in Florida, he must win South Carolina to save his campaign. To do that, he must do better-than-expected in Iowa and New Hampshire. In short, he has to show up there and spend some serious time with the folks.

To be elected President in our day and age, at some level you have to want to be President, or at least want to serve. It is wonderful to have the notion that someone would give of themselves without really wanting something in the mere name of service. Yes, a person should be in public life for the mere sake of service-but the Presidency is a bit different. There is so much responsibility and so much effort involved in running for President, let alone serving in the office, that at some level you have to want it the way your supporters do.

I have said it before and I will say it again: Fred Thompson can be the Republican nominee. To achieve that milestone, he needs to clearly express to voters in early Primary States that he wants to be President of the United States, why he wants it, and why they should choose him and not the other candidates who want it. Further, he needs to go to those people personally over and over and over again and preach truth to power.

Fred's campaign is lagging and it shouldn't be. Rather than make excuses and try and explain it away, Fred Thompson needs to turn himself loose and give the people of Iowa and New Hampshire "Fred Unplugged." They need to see the homespun Fred the liberals love to hate. If that Fred comes to the podium (and does so often) then this campaign can indeed turn around.



At Wednesday, November 21, 2007 1:43:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...


As a Fred Thompson supporter, as someone who is actively campaigning, as someone who is trying to truly make a difference -- not only for Fred Thompson but also for our country...

...I am sincerely making the request that you please just leave the Senator alone. Please just refrain from speaking about him. Do him a favor and find something else to discuss.

You know, I really want to be respectful, but you are making it increasingly difficult.

First, let's dispel any notions that this post I am commenting on would help Thompson in any way whatsoever. All it's going to do is hurt him. Whether it be a voter who hasn't made up their mind yet or someone from another campaign who reads this...either way, the message is clear. "Wow. A Fred Thompson supporter thinks this about Fred. He really must be lazy and uninspired."

That's all people are going to think, David. And if you believe otherwise, you're being delusional.

Second, let's please once and for all dispel the notion that you support Thompson. This is yet another negative diatribe (I stop short of calling it a "hit piece") that you attempt to sugarcoat to make it go down easier. When there are supposed problems with the Thompson campaign, you're all over them. You can't help but publicly point them out.

But when it comes time to help Thompson -- when he asks for and needs help from his supporters -- you disappear faster than turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

You've been asked -- TWICE -- to help out Fred by getting out the word about potential donations, especially for a day like today, which has been dubbed "Fred's Giving Day". And, to no one's surprise, you didn't come through. In fact, you didn't even acknowledge the requests.

And of course, your post just HAD to come on the day that we activists were trying to make a statement for Fred's campaign.

Thanks. Thanks a lot.

You don't link to the campaign, you don't have any widgets, you VERY rarely blog anything positive.

So, like I asked at the beginning, if this is how you're going to "support" Fred...then do the Fred-o-sphere a favor and please, please, please stop. Doing so would be the best thing you could do for Fred at this point.

At Wednesday, November 21, 2007 2:23:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

This weblog is not a Fred Thompson campaign shill blog. It is David Oatney's weblog. I've been critical of lots of politicians and candidates that I happen to support on this blog (ask Knox County Commissioner Greg "Lumpy" Lambert, who is a personal friend, if he has been spared my wrath on this blog when I think he is wrong?

He will tell you in no uncertain terms: "No-David calls it like he sees it whether I like it or not."

And so I do...

Telling the truth as I see it, no matter how much it hurts, is what has made this blog what it is. When I have seen things go right in Fred's campaign, I've written about them, and when I have seen things go wrong, I have written about them. Tough. You don't have to like it.

What I have stated here is the reality of the situation on the ground. It can change. Fred has to make the effort himself so that it changes. Support of a candidate does not always mean painting a rosy picture when the picture isn't rosy. If that is your perception of how politics works, I'm sorry-sometimes you have to bite the bullet.

Things aren't rosy, and they should be-that's the problem. I have stated the problem here and I even stated the solution to the problem. Sorry you aren't comfortable with that.

At Wednesday, November 21, 2007 3:01:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...


No. What you've stated here isn't "reality". It's tripe that's trotted out as reality by two groups of people:

1) People who actively campaign against Fred.

2) The sheep who follow those people.

So, which group do you belong to?

Also, no one asked you to turn this into a shill blog (and it's really nice that this is what you think of the Fred-o-sphere...boy, what a great supporter you are). But you know, David, today could be one of those make or break days for Fred.

And what do you do? Do you do ANYTHING -- even just post a little blurb about what's happening today? Nope. All you do is choose this particular day to continue to criticize.

With supposed supporters like you, who needs enemies?

But anyway...that's fine, David. Do what you want. It's clear which path you've chosen, and if that's what you want to do...well, I'm not the one who's going to suffer for it.

Just be ethical. Don't lie to your readership by saying that you support someone when you clearly don't. Support is completely meaningless when it involves just words -- it requires action, too. And if you are going to continue to claim support, don't complain when you get called out on that. Don't complain when you get chastised.

We're less than 45 days from Iowa. It's PUT UP or SHUT UP time, as far as I'm concerned. If you support Fred and want him elected, then support him. If you don't, then please go find some other campaign to torpedo.

At Thursday, November 22, 2007 9:17:00 AM, Anonymous SteveMule said...

I have to say you're spot on with to respect to Fred T. A big, disapointing flop. Either he thought the fix was in or it would just fall on him like an annointing from God or ... he just doesn't feel like working for it. I just don't know. The one to watch out for, who is campaigning hard and might upset lots of apple carts is Huckabee.
In the meantime don't let the self-appointed spin monkeys and the sock puppet chorus get to you.


At Thursday, November 22, 2007 3:32:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...

Go ahead and vote for Huckabee. Just don't complain when your wallets are lighter because he okays every tax hike the Democrat-run Congress wants. Don't whine when he gives your tax money away to children of illegals so they can get an education. Don't go nuts when we end up having a nationally-sanctioned program to give illegals drivers licences. Don't cry about your freedoms being lost when there is a nation-wide smoking ban. Hell, he might even try Prohibition again.

And don't for one second think that I won't say "I told you so" when he can't get the Human Life Amendment passed and can't do anything about gay marriage.

OH...wait. There's just one problem with that. The Huckster isn't going to be President. There aren't enough drooling sheep out there to vote for him.

Give him the nomination and watch Barack or Hillary slaughter him in the general election.

You know, the really sad (and ironic) thing about all of this is how we all used to talk about how incredibly stupid the Democrats they were they were becoming increasingly irrelevant. And now, they've gotten a clue while Republicans are turning into the Forrest Gumps of the political universe.

It's like I'm in the crow's nest of the Titanic, watching her steam straight for an iceberg, while people under me continue to laugh with glee about how unsinkable she is.

Well, my friends, she is sinkable. And if our course is not changed, I'd rather abandon ship than sink into irrelevancy with the rest of you.

At Thursday, November 22, 2007 7:58:00 PM, Anonymous SteveMule said...

Matt and David too, for that matter:
I was making an objective observation with respect to Gov. Huckabee - personally, I have NO intention of supporting anyone in the Rethuglican primary race. Aside from that I can not help but notice two things: HucKabee's surge in Iowa (and what that might portend if he pulls off an upset) and what a flop/dud Fred has turned into. Earlier this summer when his campaign was just pundit speculation I thought this could be a problem - however, happily, there is fizzle rather than sizzle. Regardless of Fred's positions on the issues, whether good or bad, right or wrong, his campaign 'style' has rendered him no more than a guestion on some future TV game show. Sorry.

My Predictions - Subject to change and/or events on the ground :)
Iowa - Rommney, Huckabee (strong 2nd), Guiliani (distant 3rd), Ron Paul, Thompson, everybody else.
New Hampshire - Rommney, Huckabee (big bounce out of Iowa), Guiliani (the NYFD ads and greater media scrutiny cause precipitous drop), Ron Paul, everybody else.
South Caroina - Huckabee (Evangelical Support), Rommney (Electability Concerns and smart campaigning), Ron Paul (Anti-War position boosts support), Guiliani (scandalous past starts catching upto him - no Evangilical Support), Thompson, everybody else.
Febuary - 'Everybody else' drops out.
March - Thompson drops out; no support. Guiliani drops out - Scandalous past, no Evangelical support, Bernie Kerick etc ...)
By April the Republican field will be secured - Rommney Pres., and Huckabee as VP. Rommney is electabile and Huckabee locks up the SoCon vote and appeases the Evangelicals. Or at least that's what the thinking will be according to the pundits.
November '08 - Democrats expand majority in House and Senate and win the White House.
Anyway, that's what it looks like to me at the moment.


At Friday, November 23, 2007 2:22:00 AM, Blogger Matt Daley said...


My apologies if I mis-interpreted your comment or if I inappropriately directed my anger with my Republican comrades towards you.

While I would likely disagree with the details of your predictions, I think the end result is probably accurate.

As far as Thompson goes, obviously I disagree with your analysis of him as a candidate. In many ways, I believe those ideas are a made-up image of the man because his opponents cannot effectively attack him on the issues.

With that said, however, there is a sizable portion of the voting community who allows themselves to be snookered into voting for someone based on their likability, their camera presence, their energy, etc. rather than based on their platform.

Consider FDR for a moment. I'm no fan of the New Deal, but the man did bring us successfully through the Great Depression and most of World War II. He's clearly one of the greatest Presidents we've ever had.

Unfortunately, in today's world of television and YouTube, FDR would have no hope of being elected President. Much of the problem would have to do with the fact that he was wheelchair-bound. Even today, in a supposedly enlightened America, people couldn't handle that.

So, while I personally disagree with that picture of Thompson and think he is clearly the best candidate on the issues, I think these problems will ultimately get in the way of his electability.

It's not that I don't have faith in Fred -- if I didn't, I wouldn't support him.

I just don't have faith in my fellow Republicans or the voting public at-large.

At Friday, November 23, 2007 6:40:00 PM, Blogger Redneck Hippie said...

This is my first visit to this blog. Rather disappointing that a Fred "supporter" chose to sit out the grassroots fundraiser. Having only a number of days (not weeks or months) to give our thanks to Fred in this manner, was daunting enough without "help" like this on our target day.

I won't impugn your motives because I have no idea whether they were worthy or unworthy.

I do, however, have a problem with your timing.

Speaking of timing. What if Fred evolved his campaign in this way:

Started off rather slowly (as in his Senate run). Navigated through the bumps and bruises, while enunciating the issues at hand as they connect to his long- and strongly-held core principles and beliefs (Federalism, Conservatism). Built a strong campaign and grassroots support system. Began appearing on television more frequently at the same time as he began releasing substantive policy papers to solve America's most pressing issues (illegal immigration, national security, social security and next tax reform). This, at the same time as he steps up his visit frequency and fires up his stump delivery in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida. Sorry if you are not seeing this. We who are paying attention on a daily basis are. The turnaround has started.

We who chose Fred (I did back in June) are throwing everything behind this--time, money, and most of all willpower. We see the same commitment from Fred.

It's a loss on somebody's part that your blog came out the way it did on the day it did. Only time will tell whose loss this turns out to be.

Fred is great on the stump now. The last video I saw, the people LOVED him and loved what he said (except for 2 ladies who appeared to be walking out because he doesn't drink the Al Gore Kool-Aid.)

National Review gets it. Pajamas Media gets it. Doubters take note.

At Friday, November 23, 2007 7:35:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

If I were you, I would not bank either on Democratic seat gains or a Democrat being elected. Democrats seem to be doing that, and it is what will beat them.

A.) The approval ratings of Congress are far lower than the President, and the President's numbers are pretty low indeed.

B.) We may be campaigning, but Election Day is a year away. Assume nothing.

Redneck Hippie;
Do you have a blog, are you writing for the campaign, etc.?

At Friday, November 23, 2007 7:54:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...


What in the world does it matter if someone has a blog and/or is writing for someone's campaign?

That question is nothing more than a dodge to avoid addressing the substance of the post.

However, since the topic has been brought up....

What exactly have YOU done for Fred, David? While you claim support, it seems as though you are very quick to criticize while at the same time offering nothing in return. You expect enthusiasm, energy, candor, etc. from Fred...but what enthusiasm do you show for him? What energy have you spent in effort to help get him elected?

It seems awfully suspect for you to expect without any intent to give in return.

With a little help from John F. Kennedy:

Ask not what Fred Thompson can do you you. Ask what you can do for Fred Thompson.

I'm not saying that you haven't the right to criticize...but such criticism might be better received if it were accompanied by some action.

At Saturday, November 24, 2007 12:25:00 AM, Blogger Redneck Hippie said...

No, I do not and I am not. BTW I am descended from both the Bradford and Winslow families.

At Saturday, November 24, 2007 1:38:00 AM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

A very honorable lineage indeed!

At Saturday, November 24, 2007 1:07:00 PM, Anonymous SteveMule said...

David, Matt and all other,
Democrats will make gains in both houses of congress and win the White House. The country has enough of 'Policy by Talking point and Leadership by Slogan' which is about all we've since January 2001. Republicans have no real new ideas - any new idea is an implicit refutiation of the old, dearly held ones. It would mean admitting you were wrong on too many fronts. Citing the polls about conressional approval is a slick approach but wrong once you go beneth the surface. Ratings are low becuase they're not getting anything done - because of Republican obstructionism - which is why congressional Democrats do better (much better) than congressional Republicans. Approval is also low because the Congress hasn't started to end our involvment in Iraq - something the majority of Americans want. But to support that means admitting we wrong to get involved in the first place. It means admitting that Pres. Bush was wrong, it means supporting Pres. Bush was/is wrong and that the Republicans can not and will not do. If you're wrong do you deserve to lead? That is the question no one wants to ask and even more doesn't want to have to answer.
Admit Nothing
Deny Everything
Blame Someone Else
It's wearing thin and folks are starting to catch on.
As far as Fred goes - David's right - as inconvient a truth as it might be - Fred is, so far, a flop. But unlike you, David, I don't think he can recover - it'd take too much work on his part. His supporters are clearly more than willing to do their part, however, it'll take leadership and action on his part that I just don't see forthcoming. I beleive he'll be out after Super Tuesday if he even lasts that long. His campaign will long be remembered for nothing more than inexplicable laziness on his part and the quanity and quality of his supporter's disapointment.


At Saturday, November 24, 2007 5:44:00 PM, Blogger William said...

Why Fred Thompson has no chance:

At Sunday, November 25, 2007 3:08:00 AM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

If what you say about Congress and the White House didn't sound exactly like the talking points from the DNC, I might be tempted to take it for original.

The fact is that Congress is doing a pretty ratty job and the people know it. The President isn't doing any better, and the people know that, too. The polls reflect the public mood.

The Primaries are here, but the General Election is a whole new ball game. National polls at this point in a race have proven in the past to be irrelevant to the final outcome, whatever that outcome happens to be.


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