The onetime ultimate D.C insider, Dick Morris recently brandished the allegation that Fred Thompson is awkward in answering questions. What a hoot coming from the guy that Chris Matthews kicked off the air and out of the Hardball studio -- probably the only guy ever to receive such treatment from Matthews -- for defaming Catholicism. But aside from the pot calling the kettle black issue, Morris accidentally put his finger on the thing that middle Americans get about Thompson which beltway insiders don't: substance over image and the difference between the two.
Morris finds fault with Thompson because:
- He does not know enough about the details of the Terry Schiavo case to comment.
- He is also unfamiliar with the proposal to lower soaring insurance premiums Floridians must pay for home storm coverage since the hurricanes.
- He didn't know enough about drilling in the Everglades to comment.
I find it refreshing. Most politicians who do not know the specifics of a particular subject would merely answer with platitudes, misdirection, or broad generalizations. How often do we hear a politician say "I don't know"? I personally would much rather hear that said then a five minute dissertation of painfully obvious drivel. He could have answered the Shiavo question with something inane like "It's always an unfortunate tragedy when a young person suffers a debilitating disease or injury" if he did not know the specifics. That's the kind of response the politicos expect and that middle America balks at.
Do we expect our politicians to know everything or do we just expect them to pretend they do? Have the D.C. insiders become so desensitized to political BS (like what Morris wrote for Bill Clinton during his administration) that they no longer understand the difference between informed comment and obvious pandering for the great media sound bite; "I feel your pain" comes to mind.
Now that Morris has damned Thompson for a failure of omnipotence and a lack-of-enthusiasm for failing to try and bluff the public, what are his other grievances?
Staff turnover, lobbying influence, non-conservative positions, and because Thompson said that Iraqis were supporting us because of al Qaeda's ban on smoking.
It's easier to throw out baseless accusations which require no research than to review the facts and form an opinion. So I will not try to answer all these accusations. But let me discuss two of the most irritating lies in his column.
Morris loses credibility with his complaint about Thompson's al Qaeda comment. What Thompson referred to were the reports that al Qaeda in Iraq was killing and maiming Muslims they caught smoking. This heavy-handed treatment of Iraqi Sunnis along with other atrocities as noted by Thompson caused them to turn on al Qaeda. It brings great discredit on Morris's typically straight shooting analysis that he has parroted the liberal crank websites with this pabulum. Even the New York Daily News which broke the story of Thompson's comments didn't try to make it look like smoking was the only factor for which Thompson attributed the change in Iraq.
Most damaging is Morris's claim:
"As a lobbyist, he helped the attorney representing the Libyan terrorists who blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, to fight requests to extradite them to the U.K. to stand trial."
His misrepresentation of rather innocuous work reflects a hyperventilating New Republic article in which the magazine demonizes lawyer Thompson for logging a few hours assisting a senior partner by researching venue questions. Apparently TNR, the purveyor of the Scott Thomas lie, is now offended at the thought that an American could help the enemy. Pot, kettle, black.
TNR is perplexed that an international flight of an American carrier, carrying people from many nations, originating from Germany, blown up over Scotland, and attacked by Libyans would require a couple of hours to research jurisdictional issues. TNR implies that since jurisdiction was immediately obvious, who knows the nefarious goings on that Thompson spent the rest of that three hour billing on? Again, Morris really goes bottom feeding to legitimize such nonsense.
Even the New York Times which broke the story seemed subdued and provided rare, fair context about a conservative politician. As they rightly note, all criminal prosecutions require a defense or else they can't be tried and that Thompson was not a member of the defense team and was only consulted because of his specialized knowledge. That's a far cry from the misleading impression Morris and TNR gives of the matter.
Look, I happened to fly to Germany on my first military duty assignment a few days after that terrorist attack. I attended a memorial service in Wiesbaden for Sgt. Willis Larry Coursey who died on that plane. I still have the memorial service program stashed away. It was my first eye-opening personal experience with the brutality of terrorism. I don't take it lightly although I won't try to say I ‘feel the pain' of Sergeant Coursey's family as Dick might urge me to say. To equate a few hours researching jurisdiction to sympathy for those terrorists is the typical beltway nonsense that turns us in the heartland away from beltway insiders like Morris.