Being a liberal, he can’t quite accept that Thompson might appeal to voters partly because he’s authentically conservative. And if he thinks the media would favor Fred in a campaign against Obama, he’s off in never-never-land and ain’t never-never coming back. But his basic point is sound:

Thompson is beloved by a media that feels betrayed by that meanie-friend-of-Jerry-Falwell, John McCain, (though not, it must be said, irrevocably). David Brooks is so all over the guy he’s willing to quote Stephen Hayes, a journalist who has so successfully divorced himself from reality that Dick Cheney picked him to write his official biography.

A Republican Congressman from Tennessee named Zack Wamp put his finger on something important when he explained: “We need a president of the United States after the 2008 election who will rise above the partisan challenges … That person is 6 foot 6. He has a commanding voice. He has a commanding presence. He makes people feel secure. He makes us feel confident. He is slow to act but he is resolute. He is the kind of leader innately that the United States needs today.”…

I’ll admit it: with the Democrats choosing between nominating the first ever woman presidential candidate and the first ever black presidential candidate – both highly competent, but who cares – Thompson’s strengths as a non-threatening, likable, well-trained candidate, with weaknesses that don’t really matter, look like real trouble to me.

My own support for Fred depends on the extent to which he runs on issues instead of persona. Every candidate has to run on both and he’s had plenty to say in his radio commentaries so I’m not too worried, but if we end up seeing too much of the pick-up truck or hearing too much about whittling or whatever and it turns into a “he looks the part” campaign, I’m going to balk. Insofar as there’s any truth to this garbage, it’s the platform that needs re-“branding,” not the party’s personality.

Alterman also seems to think Gore would be the best person to challenge Thompson, which may well be true. He’s the wonkiest of the Democrats so he’d throw Fred’s own thin legislative record into starker contrast. That didn’t work out so well for him in 2000, granted, but there probably aren’t a lot of independents left who voted for Bush that year who don’t wish they could do it over again. Which I guess is another way of saying that we’ve already had eight years of a lightweight good ol’ boy Republican, and no one’s much in the mood for another four. Fred had better be careful not to give the media a reason to paint him that way.

Exit question: Is the first sentence of this story the lede of the year?

Update: Just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.