18 April 2007

Tommy, can you hear me?

Those from Wisconsin and Illinois have always known that Tommy Thompson is not the brightest light bulb on the tree. That has not stopped him from mulling over his presidential aspirations. Some locals have claimed that he might have had a good chance a decade ago--with Bob Dole and George Bush as eventual nominees, Thompson could have made it interesting, they say.

This is doubtful. Thompson never had the financial backing of Bush, and Dole was running on inevitability--the same kind of campaign that John McCain expected to run in this cycle-- because he "earned" the nomination. As we can see from McCain's predicament, even "inevitable" candidates can take a precipitous drop. However, Thompson was hardly the candidate to knock Dole off the perch.

Thompson is an affable enough guy, but that does not make him presidential material. His faux pas before a group of Reform Jews did not win him any supporters. He made matters worse with a backhanded apology--he was trying to be complimentary. Why didn't Imus think of that!

Well, a day later he tried a different tack:
"I was tired, I made a mistake and I apologized," Thompson told a group of Politico reporters and editors in an interview.

"Have you ever made a mistake?," a testy Thompson demanded of this reporter.
That sounds a lot more plausible (except for the "apologized" part). But why get snippy?

The problem with getting snippy is that you end up saying things that make little sense.
Thompson also noted that he had received an award from the Anti-Defamation League and traveled to Israel last year to accept a "Friend of Zion" award from former Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres.
Is it just me or does this sound like, "Some of my best friends are Jewish people!" (OK, so he actually says, "I am a friend of the Jewish people," but it's the same message.) If someone accuses you of an ethnically insensitive comment, accept it and move on. Don't dig deeper by trying to explain it, or get defensive and snap at reporters. It makes people think that you really meant it.

Thompson is no Mel Gibson or Pat Buchanan, but he really needs a few lessons in public speaking and diplomacy. A briefing session with Kerry and Biden mulling over jokes that should not have been made might help too. Doesn't matter--Tommy is going home empty-handed in any case. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!

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