i don't know whether he'll make any real noise in 2007 much less 2008, but former wisconsin governor tommy thompson's longshot presidential campaign
should be fun to watch. he bills himself as the only reliable conservative
in the race, which strikes me as a clever tagline. centrists can read it as the only conservative candidate who is also reliable,
while righties can read it as the only candidate who is reliably conservative.
it might even hold a certain appeal for lefties -- i mean, at least he's reliable
mr. thompson currently lacks the money for a serious run and i would imagine that many view his foreign-policy resume as thin. that said, i had enough contact with then-governor thompson in madison to know that he's a formidable politician. in the late-1980s, i clerked in a law firm with ties to his first administration, worked in social services on welfare-to-work stuff, and had a happy little house on 2nd street not far from the governor's mansion on the lake. i'd often see the governor holding meetings at all hours, in places ranging from the east-side ovens of brittany
to the downtown hojos
sometimes i'd even see him
getting in a little exercise at an impressively early hour. he was no jogger (well, he was actually the kind of jogger who compels people to stop and ask, are you ok, dude?)
but the man could work.
prior to his election in 1987, my demfriends in social services quickly dismissed candidate thompson, saying he lacked the polish
necesssary to become governor. oh sure, he could work the county fair beer tent in elroy
, they'd continue, but his bit would never fly in madison or milwaukee. i took this to mean that mr. thompson lacked the cultural capital, sharp looks, and smooth manner of, say, tony earl, tom loftus, chuck chvala, or ed garvey. but, oh my! did he ever whip up on those fellows
in the gubernatorial elections.
mr. thompson seems a little more telegenic these days, but i suspect the pundits will trot out similar lines about whether he looks suitably presidential
or, more likely, suitably vice presidential
. mr. thompson also enters the fray with little money or national organization. instead, he's devoting his considerable energies to making a strong early showing in iowa
, where his brand of plain-spoken beer-tent politicking might just find an audience (i mean, does rudy giuliani even have
a position on e85?). plus, he's the only politician i've seen who doesn't look uncomfortable
riding a harley. he remains the longest of shots and darkest of horses, but i sure wouldn't misunderestimate
any candidate who works as hard as tommy thompson.