In a column published six hours ago, The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel critiques Fred Thompson’s unwillingness to flog his ideas:
There’s plenty here to get conservative voters and bloggers and pundits engaged in some healthy, even lively, debate. That is, if they’d heard any of this. Most haven’t, and for that Mr. Thompson has mostly himself to blame.
While it isn’t clear who set the “rules” for this manic election, they’re set. Voters may only pay attention at the end, but having an infrastructure to make sure those voters hear you in the final months is the work of years. By sitting back, Mr. Thompson allowed his rivals to scoop up the well-connected policy wonks, committed state activists and aggressive fund-raisers that oil a campaign. His own refusal to “do” the media and public-event circus has muzzled his message, as the failure of his tax-plan announcement shows.
Mr. Thompson’s inertia has meant his campaign is no longer in control of its destiny. His best shot now is that Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Romney go nuclear, leaving him with a ticket out of Iowa and some hope. He still ranks second behind Mr. Giuliani in national polls. But putting himself in a position to build off any lucky outcomes will involve trying to play the game he so detests. If he believes his ideas are as important for the country as he says they are, he will.
Strassel’s exactly right. I’ve only included a snippet of her arguments to illustrate her theme; she makes several points and they’re all valid. Read her whole column to get the full effect.
Two days ago the Thompson campaign fired off a press release highlighting a positive WSJ editorial that was published earlier that same morning. Will the Thompson camp react to Strassel’s criticism as quickly? Will they react at all?
12:00 Update: Uh, what?
Down for maintenance in the middle of a weekday? Not encouraging, Fred. Not at all.