Monday, January 07, 2008

Fred and the ringer

There's significant uncertainty in this due to the uncertainty of the allegation. So let that be a warning.

Here's the deal. We have charges that Frank Luntz's Fox focus group might have a ringer. I found myself wondering how these focus groups were assembled several months ago. They seem to have a lot of power.

Anyway, after watching the Fox New Hampshire debate Sunday night his focus group absolutely slam-hammered Fred Thompson. It was kind of shocking considering his performance. That was followed by a similar gesture of "love" from Fox pundit Fred Barnes, who said something to the effect, "the bad news is Thompson came in third in Iowa, which means he's staying in the race".

That's his opinion of course but it's rather head-scratchingly harsh coming from a fellow conservative, considering that Thompson is likely the most genuine and consistent conservative in the field. Not to say Barnes is part of a Fox effort to get rid of Thompson but it's no secret they've been cool towards Freddie ever since he blew off their debate to announce on the Leno show last September.

It very well may be that Barnes is just irritated by his slow mannerisms, looks or lack of ambition (or wait, is the ambition card still in play?). Whatever, did he really have to go for the throat? It's safe to say that Reagan's eleventh commandment has been shot all to hell.

Admittedly, Fred's long-term survival in a rock star media environment is tenuous despite his experiences in Hollywood. It's far too late for him to go out and get some realistic plugs or some of that botox. But that's the charm of Thompson--change for him means leadership not shape-shifting. It may be for naught.

Luntz's focus group supposedly came into the room undecided and came away as huge Romney fans. Possible, Romney did well, but after explaining that New Hampshire was focused on 'the issues' they proceeded to talk mostly about image and Mitt's ability to beat Obama. One guy honestly admitted that Thompson's thought process was good but his delivery was lacking. And that sort of epitomizes everything.

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