The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

13 September 2007

Fred Thompson Campaign, George Will, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham


If Talk Radio Is Too Tricky, Are You Ready For The Trail?

When a GOP presidential candidate repeatedly finds himself stumped by fairly routine questions from radio talk show hosts, what does that say about his campaign? Is he ready for primetime?

Perhaps the medium has the ability to "screen out" substandard contenders in the same way marginal callers are quickly yanked off the stage during a show.

In this case, it's Fred Thompson who is said to be struggling during talk radio interviews, catching the attention of highly- respected conservative columnist George Will. After months on the trail, even if most were pre- declaration, why isn't Thompson a bit more polished?

In his piece, Will makes a damning comparison between Fred and New Coke:

Fred Thompson's plunge into the presidential pool -- more belly-flop than swan dive -- was the strangest product launch since that of New Coke in 1985. Then the question was: Is this product necessary? A similar question stumped Thompson the day he plunged.

Sean Hannity, who is no Torquemada conducting inquisitions of conservatives, asked Thompson: "When you look at the other current crop of candidates -- Republicans -- where is the distinction between your positions and what you view as theirs?" Thompson replied: "Well, to tell you the truth, I haven't spent a whole lot of time going into the details of their positions."

He also is unfamiliar with the details of his own positions. Consider his confusion the next day when talk radio host Laura Ingraham asked him about something he ardently supported -- the McCain-Feingold expansion of government regulation of political speech. His rambling, incoherent explanation was just clear enough to be alarming about what he believes, misremembers and does not know.

Thompson said he had advocated McCain-Feingold to prevent, among other things, corporations and labor unions from "giving large sums of money to individual politicians." But corporate and union contributions to individual candidates were outlawed in 1907 and 1947, respectively.

Ingraham asked about McCain-Feingold's ban on issue ads that mention a candidate close to an election. He blamed an unidentified "they" who "added on" that provision, which he implied was a hitherto undiscussed surprise.

But surely he knows that bills containing the ban had been introduced in previous sessions of Congress before passage in 2002. [...]

If 2007 really is the year where talk radio has been put in charge of running the country, shouldn't Thompson be better prepared for these basic questions?

Beyond just Fred, however, it's important to extend Will's thought process to the entire field of candidates: what justifies the presence of any of these people in the presidential race?

Here's a question they should all be able to answer: were you to drop out of this race tomorrow, how and why would America be worse off than it is today?

FOR Boston- area talk radio updates, see our other site. New: Belichick now owns the news cycle, at least in New England.

ALSO: SF mayor Gavin Newsom honors cult leader

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  • um ... NO!

    Fred never struggled to distinguish himself from the other GOP candidates; he chose not to, as he stated.

    He said, "there will be time for that later." Suggesting that he wanted to let the people meet him and see what he is all about before he drew ad distinctions between he and the others. And frankly, I think that is the way it should be!!

    Just because some one doesn't want to run a negative campaign doesn't make that person ill prepared to handle the questions; it does make them morally prepared for the office they are running, however.

    By Blogger FRedNeck!!, at 14 September, 2007 08:20  

  • so in other words "Fred Neck" does not know why he is voting for Fred Thompson, does not care Thompson has no platform, but FREDNeck simply loves him and will vote for him.

    It's his manly smell that does it fo Fredneck, GOP homo-eroticism for sure. "He's my man, I dont know his platform, but he's manly"

    By Blogger Jared, at 14 September, 2007 12:35  

  • "it does make them morally prepared for the office they are running, however."

    With yet ANOTHER sex-perversion scandal to have hit the GOP this week, I'm not sure Americans will ever turn to any Republican politician for a moral compass again (Blessed Is The Lord...)

    "It's his manly smell that does it fo Fredneck, GOP homo-eroticism for sure. "He's my man, I dont know his platform, but he's manly""

    Fred Thompson was a Republican lobbyist for eighteen years.

    In that universe, the smell of filthy money is far more of an aphrodisiac than any pheremones...

    Never in America's history was Washington more filled with closeted, repressed homosexuals, than under the Bush Crime Family.

    This even extended (no pun intended) to the White House itself, and Jeff Gannon's overnights with the dim son and Karl Rove...

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 14 September, 2007 16:06  

  • Maybe the "Blackfive" morons will buy Thompson's shtick, but that's a tiny and diminishing percentage of wingnuts in general and he's already had a few significant bad showings on the late-night chat show circuit.

    Neck, methinks you'd better start shopping around for a new messiah.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 15 September, 2007 01:24  

  • Check out the hit piece on Fred Thompson, including a few things the media never talks about. To read it go to

    By Blogger Third Rail, at 25 September, 2007 17:53  

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