Looks like Will gets a solid base hit on one subject: contrasting Fred’s record on campaign finance reform with what he told Laura Ingraham (audio, skip to 5:43) about his record on campaign finance reform. To wit:
Thompson, contrary to his current memories, was deeply involved in expanding government restrictions on political speech generally and the ban on issue ads specifically. Yet he told Ingraham “I voted for all of it,” meaning McCain-Feingold, but said “I don’t support that” provision of it.
Oh? Why, then, did he file his own brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold McCain-Feingold, stressing Congress’ especially “compelling interest” in squelching issue ads that “influence” elections?
Beyond that, though, Will seems to be accusing Fred of A: not raising enough money, and B: not being religious enough to raise conservative Christians’ money:
Is there, however, a huge cash value in the role for which he is auditioning — darling of religious conservatives? Perhaps. But their aspiring darling recently said in South Carolina, “I attend church when I’m in Tennessee. I’m in McLean right now. I don’t attend regularly when I’m up there.”
“Right now”? He has been living “up there” in that upscale inside-the-Beltway Washington suburb, honing his “Aw, shucks, I’m just an ol’ Washington outsider” act, for years. Long enough to have noticed that McLean is planted thick with churches. Going to church is, of course, optional — unless you are aiming to fill some supposed piety void in the Republican field.
Hot Air commenters, whether churchgoing or not, and whether Fred supporters or not, weren’t quite as scandalized by this admission as Will thinks they ought to have been. I have to say these politicized sneers about the state of Fred’s soul are every bit as relevant and enlightening as the attempts to dig something that isn’t there out of the records of his divorce. Or, perhaps more apposite, the sneering Mormon-bashing we’ve seen directed at Romney. And they make the sneerers look just as good.
Meanwhile, from the left, Fred is getting hit with cries of Too Much Jesus!
The Fred-bashers–all over the spectrum–are sounding more and more like militant atheists who have this really off-putting zeal where you would expect to find only apathy or mild contempt. They all want to be the one who really sticks it to Fred and proves you’re wrong and deluded if you support him. Fine; if you really believe there’s nothing there, then act like it. If Thompson is truly the empty suit and ideological enigma you claim, he’ll dry up soon enough. (I mean, I don’t waste a whole lot of time fisking Brownback’s or Gilmore’s policy positions, and I don’t throw a rod every time someone resigns from the Ron Paul campaign. Will’s written three columns bashing Fred.)
The message being sent by all these scattershot attacks is that Fred is a serious threat that must be stopped–which is a very different message from most of the attack rhetoric itself. He could never win! We must stop him from winning! Allahpundit’s offhand “exactly what is it he’s done?” and “yeah, enough with the cornpone” remarks are actually far more devastating than the curiously desperate and counterproductive ack-ack Will and the Daily Mail are throwing up.
Utterly Gratuitous Exit Question: Piffle, or not piffle?