March 21, 2007


Thompson has 'hidden' assets (David Hill, March 20, 2007, The Hill)

In particular, Thompson's swing-state origins and his self-imposed term limitation stoke my enthusiasm.

Tennessee is an interesting setting in which to learn the political craft. In so many ways, the Volunteer State teaches compromise. Regional conflict is one reason. Tennessee pols must learn to bridge vast chasms of culture and history. It's almost 350 miles from Memphis and the state's western border to Knoxville in east Tennessee. But culturally, the distance from the banks of the Mighty Mississippi to old Rocky Top in the Smokies is 10 times the actual mileage. In the middle, there's Nashville. To be blunt about it, the central communities of the state, particularly the tonier neighborhoods around Nashville, have always had a superiority complex. But they couldn't get things done without some cooperation from their country cousins.

The hillbillies in east Tennessee, the Mississippi River rats out west and the snooty snots in Belle Meade -- they might as well hail from separate states. Getting such a diverse bunch of volunteers headed in the same direction sharpens the political mettle. It's not surprising that Thompson's mentor in his early and present career is former Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker, a man that many called the "Great Conciliator" when he led Republicans in the Senate.

The state is also distinctive in its partisan balance. The Democrats control the state House narrowly while the Republicans have a razor-thin edge in the state Senate. The state has a Democratic governor, two moderate GOP senators, five Democratic members of the U.S. House and four Republicans. Can any state claim to have any more balanced political outcomes?

Thompson cut his political teeth in this competitive environment, first as a manager for others and later for his own candidacy.

Which is why it was so odd when Al Gore zagged so far Left in '00. Had he just run as if he were only running in TN he might even have carried it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 21, 2007 9:38 AM

Unfortunately, Al Gore went crazy and he has gotten crazier every since.

Posted by: pchuck at March 21, 2007 1:37 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Gore didn't even win his home state last time out.

Posted by: erp at March 21, 2007 3:32 PM

When Howard Baker was in the Senate, Republicans were a perpetual minority. One thing about the conciliators is, only the Republicans conciliate, the Democrats stay put until the conciliators conciliate to their positions, else they and the MSM would scream and whine. The only thing Thompson's achieved was to prove that the Republicans were as rotten or worse than the Dems. His Senate hearings only managed to snare Republicans, while the Dems refused to budge. So we have crooked Reps in jail where they belong, crooked Dems are reelected.

Posted by: ic at March 21, 2007 4:44 PM

Former Majority Leader Howard Baker would find that remark odd.

Posted by: oj at March 21, 2007 7:29 PM