A few hours ago, Fred Thompson withdrew from the Republican presidential race, having attempted one of the most mystifying bids for high office in modern times. He refused to enter the contest when his name was on everyone’s lips last spring. Over the summer, his undeclared bid featured the hirings and firings of several staffers who clashed with his wife, Jeri. He waited until September, building up a high degree of expectation, and then spent his first couple of weeks talking obsessively about the need for Social Security and entitlement reform — which are, I think it’s safe to say, not high on the public’s to-do list. He would go several days without campaigning, would disappear, and then would show up to debates and barely stir himself into life. Only once, in the debate in South Carolina, did he rouse himself to perform — and he did brilliantly. Then he did nothing to capitalize on his triumphant performance and finished a weak third.
Given this record, Thompson has effectively proved what skeptics have been saying all along. He didn’t want to be president. He doesn’t like running for office. He doesn’t have either a killer instinct or a ravenous hunger. And he really doesn’t have a sense of mission.
With all this in evidence, no Republican presidential nominee in his right mind would choose Thompson for his running mate. This isn’t his game or his field or his love. We won’t see Thompson with his arm raised at the nominee’s side at the Minneapolis convention.