It's always the beam in one's own eye that's overlooked
Posted by aogSunday, 06 May 2007 at 11:00 TrackBack Ping URL

Orrin Judd’s boosterism for Senator McCain continues apace, citing articles that have the kind of facile political analysis he’d properly mock if it were in the service of, say, Al Gore.

In this case, the article claims

the man [Fred Thompson] some in the GOP are touting as a dream candidate has often sounded like the presidential hopeful many of them seem ready to dismiss: Sen. John McCain

Judd adds

One oughtn’t expect the Stupid Party to figure that out.

But of course, the article glosses over all the key points on which Stupid Party opposition to McCain is based, which turns out to be exactly those places where Thompson doesn’t sound at all like McCain. For example, open contempt for the First Amendment. Or McCain’s history of sucking up to liberal pieties whenever it gets him good press coverage.

I am not a big fan of Thompson, primarily because I haven’t examined him in much detail. But even my passing glance is enough to see some very substantial differences from McCain. I suspect Judd sees this as well, but is just posturing in order to be a snarky contrarian, rather than admit that even the Stupid Party might have some legitimate gripes.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Michael Herdegen Sunday, 06 May 2007 at 13:25

Fred Thompson has almost no chance of being Prez. Like many others who are currently calling themselves candidates, they’re only in it because for the first time since 1928, both major parties will have open contests for the Presidential nomination without a sitting President or Vice President in the running, and they’re hoping for lightning to strike. (Some say ‘52, but VP Alben Barkley ran in 1952, he just failed to capture the Dem. nomination).

But what’s most likely is that the Thompsons and Huckabees and Hagels and Brownbacks and Bidens and Dodds will eventually recognize that they aren’t getting any traction, and will drop out.

Edwards will probably last long enough to lose all of the early primaries, at which point he’ll finally quit chasing his impossible dream.

David Cohen Sunday, 06 May 2007 at 22:23

While Thompson was in the Senate, he was a sponsor of McCain-Feingold, which was in fact known at the time as McCain-Feingold-Thompson.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 07 May 2007 at 06:52

Mr. Herdegen;

Still, there’s a difference between saying “McCain’s inevitable” and saying “he’s a great candidate”.

Mr. Cohen;

I did not know that, but then I haven’t look at Thompson closely, to some extent for the reason Mr. Herdegen cites. One is left wondering if his name is no longer attached because Thompson, at least, realized what a bad idea it was.

Ali Choudhury Monday, 07 May 2007 at 07:19

Thompson’s the tallest of the lot and has the fewest negatives. He’d be my pick.

pj Monday, 07 May 2007 at 17:04

AOG - Thompson has been the one candidate, besides McCain, that oj has been positive about. oj clearly wants McCain, but will settle for Thompson. He even lost the “McCain’s inevitable” meme when Thompson got in the mix. He seems to be recognizing that McCain has limited traction.

I’m OK with Thompson, if the worst about him was that he co-sponsored McCain-Feingold. After all, my man Bush signed it, which is every bit as bad. I’m reconciled to the fact that we can’t expect great candidates from the current moral/intellectual climate.

John Weidner Monday, 07 May 2007 at 17:19

Orrin’s blogging technique is fascinating and utterly unique; the relentless pilling up of articles that often reinforce a certain long-running theme. He’s got more and often better links than anybody else, and sometimes paints a pointillist masterpiece over the course of years. Think of his hundreds of posts on “Third-Way politics.” I admire him.

But I think in the case of McCain he may have his finger on the scale…

Tom C., Stamford,Ct. Monday, 07 May 2007 at 17:45

Judd is relentless in searching for confirmation of his own prejudices, either from the poorly thought out counter-point or from a well written article with which he agrees. His attachment to ‘third wayism’ and ‘end of history’ determinism is like that of an adolescent who’s discovered a cultish ideology that answers all of his questions regarding the meaning of life. The site’s becoming a bore.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 07 May 2007 at 20:00

Tom C.;

That’s kind of an ironic charge, given how OJ rails on libertarians for the same reason.

I skip more than I used to, but OJ still piles on a lot of good stuff. It’s still one of my primary stops on the weblog circut.


But doesn’t the thrust of this article serve as a counter argument to your claim?

I think Thompson’s playing it smart. It hurts to not get in this early, but IMHO it would hurt even worse to start playing. It is so far ahead of the real campaign, and I agree with Mickey Kaus that assessment of political information happens significantly faster than it used to, so waiting is less costly these days. I think Obama is going to end up very sorry he jumped in so early.

Michael Herdegen Tuesday, 08 May 2007 at 06:42

Perhaps Obama had to get in early, to stop Clinton from donning the “inevitable & invincible” mantle.

Could Obama have raised $ 25MM after Clinton announced that she’d raised $ 26MM in three months, especially if he was primarily known as just another fluke Freshman Senator from Illinois ?

pj Tuesday, 08 May 2007 at 10:57

AOG - Which claim? About oj’s preferences? I think oj’s post supports my interpretation. He’s not mocking Thompson; he’s saying that the Stupid Party doesn’t recognize the beauty of McCain/Thompson, or recognizes it only in Thompson but not, as they should, McCain. But whenever he posts about Giuliani, or Romney, he mocks them.

On the factual question — is Thompson like McCain — I reserve judgment. For me resemblance to McCain would be a negative; I would prefer a more Christian, libertarian candidate. Still, I will settle for sensible, sane, and electable.

David Cohen Tuesday, 08 May 2007 at 11:55

pj: Isn’t that Giuliani? If we want electable, he seems to be the guy. Of course, the Democrats nominated Kerry because he was electable, not because they loved him.

Michael Herdegen Tuesday, 08 May 2007 at 13:35

Giuliani and Romney, two extremely capable executives with long records of accomplishment under the most adverse of circumstances, get mocked, whereas Thompson and McCain, legislators only, get lauded.

Go figure.

Ali Choudhury Tuesday, 08 May 2007 at 13:56

Romney launched his political career in the wrong place. If he’d been governor of a Sunbelt state, he’d have much better prospects. Now he looks unprincipled by distancing himself from what he did in MA. He seems to have the highest negative ratings of any candidate which maybe indicates Americans don’t want a Mormon in the White House.

I don’t know if Guiliani would be the right fit for the job. He’s at his best facing a crisis that needs bold action and I don’t think Iraq applies. His social liberalism doesn’t help nor does his rep for bad-tempered moves. He might be electable but does the GOP really want eight years of keeping the party unified around him?

McCain, Thompson and Guiliani are all pretty old and have suffered from a variety of serious medical problems. The Democrat candidates seem younger and healthier.

As for oj, I’ve learned immense amounts from his site but he seems a little too attached to his theories and his method of debating is somewhat off-putting.

Tom C., Stamford,Ct. Tuesday, 08 May 2007 at 15:31

pj- Christian Libertarian? Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe you mean liberal in the classical sense rather than libertarian. The distinction may only be important to me but to my way of thinking it’s a rather large difference.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 08 May 2007 at 20:19


I read the post as saying “don’t vote for Thompson, if you want to you should vote for McCain instead” which doesn’t seem much of a boost for Thompson.

pj Wednesday, 09 May 2007 at 13:17

David - Maybe. I’m somewhat sympathetic to oj’s prediction that Giulani will lose support as he gets better known. Right now he is the most popular though. Anyway, I’m reserving judgment till I see them go through a campaign.

Tom - Yes, “Christian classical liberal” is essentially what I mean. Libertarian used to be a good adjective, but maybe leftists are starting to take it over just like they did ‘liberal.’ Do we really want to surrender another label so quickly? In honor of AOG, who still uses ‘libertarian’, and the principle of fewest words, I used it. It describes my second objection to McCain, that he is a Teddy Roosevelt-style Progressive who will seek to grow government power (the other objection being that I suspect behind his hostility to Christians lies a willingness to defy divine morality).

AOG - I disagree. “McCain, only taller” is high praise from oj. He likes Thompson.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 09 May 2007 at 14:59


Yes, apparently the MAL is corrupting “libertarian”, although frankly I have come to view many of my fellow liberatarians as much loonier than I used to (cynicism? wisdom? corruption by OJ?). Apparently I am now a neo-libertarian and frankly I am surprised at how close, both in substance and history, that description is for my own political ideology. I used to think that it was the classic definition of libertarian, but I seem to have been mistaken. My current libertarianism is much more informed by conservatism than it was when I was younger, although it’s been more due to my jobs and professional experience than any political arguments (which, IIRC, is something Mr. Burnet brought up a while back).

Tom C., Stamford,Ct. Wednesday, 09 May 2007 at 15:38

pj- Classical Liberlaism needs no ‘Christian’ qualifier. It is a product of cultural Christianity and informed by the very Christian concepts of tradition, human dignity, conscience, natural law and ordered liberty. Libertarianism, as an ideology, is amoral to a large extent.

pj Wednesday, 09 May 2007 at 16:50

AOG - I was a registered Libertarian from the early 80’s to the time Virginia Postrel gave up the editorship of Reason. Robert Poole, who preceded Postrel, was excellent. Postrel was a modest downgrade, highly intelligent and sensible, but having lost touch somewhat with the Judeo-Christian/Anglo-American tradition. The guy who replaced her was a militant atheist, a celebrator of abortions and promiscuity and drugs, and devoted to the proposition that the Republicans were no more libertarian than the Democrats, and probably a sight worse. That’s when I figured out that leftists were taking over the libertarian movement, let my subscription to Reason lapse and changed my registration to Republican. (It didn’t hurt that Clinton alarmed me, as did 6 years residence in Berkeley where I found that many on the left are capable of anything.) Libertarianism has only become more infected by the left the last few years. Many leftist blogs see libertarianism as the next ideological vehicle for leftists, now that socialism and multiculturalism have lost their appeal. I don’t clearly understand what they’re heading toward, but it may be something along the lines of the assertion that we have to accept their will or else we’re violating their liberty.

Tom - Agreed.

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