The general consensus is that Fred Thompson turned in his best debate performance to date yesterday, actually appearing awake for at least a portion of the proceedings. With only three weeks to go until the caucuses, is it really possible that Thompson is going to at last get serious about the race and exert some sort of effort? I've always gotten the sense that ol' Fred likes to think of himself as a clutch player, the type of fella who doesn't need to work up a sweat in the early going then comes to life in the last few minutes of the game to carry the day. You saw this in his 1994 Senate run, where, in the closing months, Thompson perked up, hunkered down, and scored a major victory after getting his butt whooped for most of the race.
I suppose Thompson could still be plotting something similar in this election. But do we really want a president who thinks of himself as a swoop-in-at-the-last-second kind of guy? The presidency isn't really a "clutch" kind of job. Yes, you need someone who responds well under pressure, a strong leader who doesn't freak out in a crisis or buckle during intense negotiations. But you also need someone who can perform over the long haul, who can handle the daily grind and grinding anxiety of the job. Ol' Fred may be great in a high-stakes sprint, but he continues to prove himself ill-equipped to endure the four- or even eight-year marathon of the presidency.