Fred Thompson may be onto something. Today's New York Times puzzles over his "sleepy, unconventional" approach to pursuing the presidency, noting, "Indeed, what has defined his campaign recently has to a large degree been his absence from the trail."
But the Senator/actor who got his start during the Nixon impeachment may be putting his experience to good use. After the trauma of an administration that tried to do too much, the country was ready for a vacant Oval Office or, failing that, an innocuous president like Gerald Ford and then a low-key Jimmy Carter, who was perplexed by the "national malaise."
With the high-energy Rudy Giuliani imploding in scandals, laid-back Fred Thompson may be foxier than he seems. As an antidote to Bush's imperial presidency, he may be showing voters how little he would do to make them anxious or fearful.
His ambling through primary states could be just the ticket for the times. Before the debate, he had a week with only one retail campaign event: a “meet Fred” in the back room of a Southern Carolina barbecue restaurant with no music, food or even chairs. A hundred voters stood for three hours before he arrived for a few remarks and half a dozen questions. Less than 30 minutes later, he left.
At the Florida state convention, other candidates blustered for half an hour or more. Thompson chatted for four minutes, leaving one supporter to say, “We were all hoping he would say something we could get behind, but there was nothing.”
Republicans, his campaign manager sums it up, will have decide whether they want "the Energizer Bunny or a consistent conservative."
At this rate, if Fred Thompson gets the nomination, he may nod off during debates with Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama and doze all the way to the White House.
If voters want a restful President, he's their man.