Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why I Like Tommy Thompson

If I were a columnist today, I'd write a column apiece about the presidential candidates. I'd follow them on the campaign trail to gain both a sense of who they are and specifics about their platforms.

George Will, a columnist par excellence, seems to be doing something similar. Here's his take on Duncan Hunter (from February), on Giuliani, Romney and McCain (March), on Fred Thompson (April), and, now, on the other Thompson—you know, the one who rides a Harley and served four terms as Wisconsin's governor and four years as secretary of health and human services, where he presided over a $580 billion budget, which is larger than the combined budgets of the eight largest states.

Will makes three main points. Looking backward, Thompson achieved extraordinary success on welfare reform and school choice. Going forward, Thompson wants the Iraqis to vote on whether U.S. troops should remain there. In the present, Thompson says he can win the crucial 27 electoral votes in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota combined.

If I were a journalist today, I'd spend more time covering people like this than scrutinizing the death out of the front-runners' every yawn and wristwatch-check.

Update (4/27): Time's Joe Klein, another columnist par excellence, takes on John Edwards, and comes away impressed that Mr. $400 Haircut possesses the two "qualities I most value in a politician: self-deprecating humor and real courage."

Update (4/27): A freelancer for the New Republic calls to our attention something George Will neglected: "As governor, Thompson racked up a reckless spending record and left residents with a $3.5 billion deficit."