William Rusher

Why not? It's probably mostly a matter of style. Thompson is laid-back, soft-spoken and gives the unfortunate impression of not having thought very hard about some of the issues. (He admitted not giving much attention to the Terri Schiavo case -- the brain-damaged woman from St. Petersburg, Fla., who was taken off life support following a whirlwind of controversy -- though it had riveted the nation for a month.) Where is the genial repartee, the impish wisecrack, and the easygoing smoothness of Ronald Reagan? Granted, Reagan is a model no candidate can easily live up to, but conservatives can dream, can't they?

Realistically speaking, it may not matter much. Anyone who follows American politics knows that 2008 is probably going to be a Democratic year, in terms of both Congress and the presidency. So the contenders for the Republican nomination may not be doing much but arguing over the arrangement of the deck chairs on their Titanic. But the Republican primary voters are going to have to pick a candidate anyway, and in this situation it's a good question whether they ought to nominate the candidate who will wage the most aggressive, albeit losing, battle (probably Giuliani), or the one who will most forthrightly proclaim the party's conservative principles and accept an honorable defeat, trusting the voters to tire of the Democrats quickly.

Thompson may yet show the spark that would electrify Republican primary voters and lead on to victory next November. But time is short, and he hasn't done it yet.

William Rusher

William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .

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