Bob Novak: GOP rivals fear the Fred Jeri

I like to think of her as what Bush sees when he looks at Rove. The better Fred does, the more power she has, the cattier the smears are going to be.

Now, who wants to explain to Juan Williams that real trophy wives have no power? They’re ornaments. A.k.a. “trophies.”

Hence the term, Juan.

As the actor-lawyer-politician nears his long-awaited official announcement, Mrs. Thompson is slurred as a “trophy wife” — privately by her husband’s opponents for the Republican nomination and publicly by the media…

Murmuring about Jeri Thompson hit a peak July 22 on “Fox News Sunday,” when the program’s roundtable engaged in whimsical contemplation of debate between spouses of Democratic presidential candidates. “Well, first,” said Juan Williams of National Public Radio, “. . . I think you should get Jeri Thompson in here, the trophy wife, right?” William Kristol of the Weekly Standard interjected: “That’s unfair.” Williams: “Unfair, unfair, I know, but –” Kristol: “It is unfair.”

That ended the discussion. I asked Williams, a respected journalist, whether he regretted the comment. He did not, but he explained that he got the idea from a July 8 New York Times article by Susan Saulny. “Is America ready for a president with a trophy wife?” she asked in the paper’s Style section. “Subsequent to that,” Williams told me, “I heard the same thing in conversation with people in other campaigns — about her being so young, so attractive and so powerful.”

It’s encouraging to think that the New York Times’s Style section is setting the pace for GOP whispering campaigns. This is interesting, though:

Indeed, Fred Thompson’s close associates maintain that there was no chance he would be a candidate for president were he not married to Jeri. He tells friends that he abandoned what seemed to be a promising campaign for the 1996 nomination because he did not feel he could manage that endeavor as a single man.

I guess I can understand that, although the complaint among most candidates seems to be that they’re never alone. Aides, assistant aides, advisors, volunteers, strategists, lobbyists — they don’t lack for support. He’s talking about the emotional toll, presumably, but how much time do you have to reflect on that when you’re campaigning 18 hours a day for 18 months with an entourage around you at all times?

Incidentally, Novak thinks his $3.45 million fundraising take in June isn’t nearly as bad as people are making it out to be. For the same period, it’s about equal to what Romney did. Of course, Romney had already been in the race for months at that point and wasn’t riding a tsunami of goodwill from righties who were supposedly going to drown him in all the cash they’d saved up for when a real conservative finally jumped in.

After all the Fred criticism lately, I owe the Fredheads something enjoyable. Here you go. My favorite: “Early maps labeled uncharted areas ‘Here be Fred Thompson.'”

Update: You’re welcome.