The EFM Feature

Today I joined the Williamson County Republican Women’s club for a luncheon at which a popular Tennessee radio host spoke. I wondered about the wisdom of wearing my Romney button when I realized Steve Gill was discussing his new book, The Fred Factor: How Fred Thompson May Change the Face of the ’08 Election, and explaining why Fred’s doing much better than George Will, Politico, and World Net Daily claim.
I admire Mr. Gill for several reasons–namely because he led an effective protest against a state income tax in 2000 and 2001. I was eating chocolate chess pie while Mr. Gill spoke and wasn’t taking notes. However, some of what he said jumped out at me as a bit flawed.
First of all, he cited a Rasmussen poll and said if Gov. Romney or Rudy were nominated, Tennessee would go blue. How would Hillary pull off what native Tennessean Al Gore could not? Remember, this was before Al Gore was just as popular for his “lock box” than constant environmental nagging. If he couldn’t win his home state, Hillary hasn’t a prayer.
But Mr. Gill took that incorrect assumption and started building on it. Fred would appeal to all Americans, he reasoned, because of his star power and because he’s a candidate that “says what he means, and means what he says.” (Although, his public statements are hardly a model of clarity.) However, northern candidates like Rudy and Gov. Romney have no benefit to Republicans since they can’t carry their own states, he said.
“Mitt Romney won’t even carry Massachusetts,” he said. “What does that say about him?”
The person sitting beside me whispered, “Doesn’t it mean liberals don’t like his conservative positions?”
Mr. Gill said Fred would be able to turn purple states–like Ohio and Pennsylvania–red, which I seriously doubt. While many Republicans love President Bush, a “swagger” and “drawl” fatigue has set in with voters. Consequently, Fred’s Southern persona (one of his major assets here) could be a liability–especially in places like New Hampshire and Iowa.
Mr. Gill, however, explained Fred wouldn’t do well in New Hampshire and Iowa, but seemed to indicate that his very lack of attention to the states would nullify their importance. (This reminds me of when I used to shove all my parking tickets at David Lipscomb University into a drawer…thinking somehow they’d stop being problematic if I pretended they didn’t exist.) This, of course, defies all recent campaign history–including the most recent campaign, where Iowa and New Hampshire were decisive in the Democratic primary contest.
He talked about Gov. Romney’s money, saying he “bought third place with $40 million.” The “third place” to which he was referring are the national polls which largely measure name recognition. After all, Gov. Romney’s lead in the early primary states are not as important, since Fred isn’t paying as much attention to them. (Likewise, he considered Gov. Romney’s Iowa Straw Poll victory meaningless since Rudy and Fred didn’t participate.)
Lastly, he slammed James Dobson’s recent e-mail in which Dobson said Fred was “not for me” because Fred’s opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, favors McCain-Feingold, is evasive about what he believes, “can’t speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail,” and lacks passion and zeal.
Mr. Gill ignored most of these criticisms and said James Dobson’s problem isn’t with Fred Thompson, but with the writers of the Constitution. Fred Thompson’s unwillingness to support a Federal Marriage Amendment puts him in good company, you see. Dr. Dobson wouldn’t have voted for George Washington or Thomas Jefferson either. Yes, you read that correctly. I proposed this to the resident Constitutional scholar, who’s eating ice cream in the living room, and he said–in his concise academic speak–”that’s insane.”
When Mr. Gill was criticizing Dr. Dobson, the ladies at the luncheon seemed perplexed. One lady pressed him further, “But doesn’t Fred need to build a bridge with James Dobson?” A lady at my table said, “James Dobson is a very important man.” It seemed many were hearing of Dobson’s statements for the first time. The bottom line is that Christians are disappointed Fred won’t back this constitutional amendment and are saddened by his casual remark that he doesn’t attend church or openly discuss his faith.
Peggy Noonan once noted Fred’s basic appeal is that he’s not the other candidates. ”That’s good, but raises the question: Who are you?” So far, he’s failed to answer that question, but Steve Gill wants to answer it with his new book. Buy it here, if you’re curious.
After all, the Fred folks might need the money. They have a lot of parking tickets piling up, and they can’t ignore them forever.
CHARLES adds: Nancy, at the next EFM potluck, we’ve got to have this chess pie. The Bride and I were over a Tennesseean’s house the other day and he was telling us about it. I’m fascinated.
Also, Gill’s comments about the Founding Fathers strike me as a bit of a non sequitur. It’s fine to formulate hypotheses about them, but they should be based on evidence. For instance, I’ve said that they would clearly vote for non-Christians, because many of them were in fact non-Christians and voted for each other–something we often forget today. But to try and figure out where they would weigh in on “gay marriage” when all of them would have found it totally unthinkable–and thus certainly never thought, wrote, or spoke about it? I don’t know how you reach a conclusion on a topic on which there is no evidence.
NANCY adds: Charles, I’m not sure the chocolate chess pie is a Southern phenom. It’s good, but not as good as my momma’s banana pudding. (Although I’m not sure I can bring that to the FRC–are any of you EFMers going?)

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