Jay Cost of the Real Clear Politics Horserace Blog looks at the disconnect about Fred Thompson's run. The pundits are critical of his strategy but the voters aren't. He argues:
People outside the Beltway, whose daily lives are not regimented by the news cycle, appreciate that the perpetual campaign has reached a point of asininity. Accordingly, a candidate could win supporters over in the real campaign by claiming that he ignored all of these rules, which essentially mandate twenty-two months of nonstop campaigning. This is a twist on running against Washington. It is running against the Washington press corps. A Republican candidate can do this all the more. After all, the perpetual campaign is mediated by the press, which conservatives loathe. Instead of saying that he broke the media's rules, a candidate instead can say that he broke the Drive By Media's rules. That is a great way to win conservatives over: run against the Drive By's.
I think that Thompson is taking a calculated risk here. As somebody who thinks that the rules of the media's prepetual campaign are inefficient and irresponsible (how much time are we going to spend talking about a damned haircut?), it is one that I admire. He is betting that all of the rules of the perpetual campaign, and the praise one earns from the talking heads for following those rules, is just one way to get to the real campaign. He is betting that there is another way - instead of following all of those rules, he can thumb his nose at them.
I agree entirely.