Stay the Course, or Something
I caught Fred Thompson’s appearance on Meet the Press yesterday. It was a golden opportunity to get a closer look at a candidate who has not exactly expended a lot of shoe leather on the sidewalks of New Hampshire’s cities and towns. After watching the show, I do not think that anyone would ever accuse Senator Thompson of being rehearsed on the issues. He seems to work from a core set of ideas about foreign and domestic policy, but his actual answers can be, shall we say, impressionistic.
Here is the response that really got my attention. Tim Russert asked Thompson to clarify how his position on Iraq differed from a “stay the course” approach, and to also touch on a possible exit strategy from the conflict. See if you can follow Thompson’s “clarification,” as taken from the interview transcript:
Well, it’s, it’s not a, it’s not a stay-the-course when—in, in terms of what’s been going on there. What’s been going on there’s been quite negative. It is a—giving us an opportunity to succeed. You know, we’ve got to, we’ve got take yes for an answer. We got to take success as a, as a reality when we find it. We’ve, we’ve seen a lot of negativity, and rightfully so. But now that things are turning, even those in some of the think tanks around town are not pro-war by any stretch of the imagination have stepped up and said, “We’re making real progress.” We see the headlines that, that are, that are changing now. The stakes are too high, Tim. It’s not, it’s not a matter of, of just Iraq. The—we’re being tested. The whole world is watching to see whether or not the American people have the will and the ability, the unity, the determination to, to succeed in any front that we happen to be engaged in, and this is a front in much larger war.
I think that some Republican voters will actually find it quite refreshing that Thompson does not work from a standard menu of sound bites when answering questions, but instead seems to genuinely work his way through a response.  Still, in a media culture that has little patience for a lack of clarity in political discourse, Thompson would do well to hone his rhetoric a bit.

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