Some follow-up on that might even be in order -- Todd's and Simon's respective wordings are eerily similar. I mean, Thompson does, for all his size and perceived gravitas, also project a vibe of "withered coot", but for two hacks to latch on to the exact same Grampa Simpson meme simultaneously is passing strange. At the very least, it says more about them than it does about Thompson.
I think that what's most irritating about these smug little fuckers is the way they blithely whistle past their own tautological feedback loop. They create the spin on candidates; they are not the helpless passengers they portray themselves as. They helped Bush in 2000 with the soft bigotry of their lowered expectations, while the bar was heightened on Gore. They smeared Howard Dean in 2004, because his intense nutroots support threatened to seriously cut their lobotomized horse-race bullshit right out of the loop.
Kerry they damaged simply by being gulled into stenographing the Swift Boat smears just long enough to kill his momentum. God forbid they should find respectable work. Instead they pretend that the dumb people are smart, and the smart people are assholes. Why? Because that's how they perceive the vaunted heartland -- as a bunch of inbred yahoos who don't cotton much to no one with a fancy triple-digit eye-kew.
And as long as they keep falling for George Bush's schtick, or Fred Thompson's happy horseshit, maybe there's some degree of truth there. Maybe they could do some reportage on why that is, why people continue to vote against themselves just because a lifelong lawyer/lobbyist/actor slaps on a flannel shirt and rents hisself a pick-em-up truck and a driver for the hunnerd-yard drive from the nearest parking lot to Cooter's Stump.
But that's beside the point here. The problem is that these would-be prognosticators think of this in terms of narrative, rather than fact. What does Thompson say at these speeches; what is the substance of it? Well, we never hear that, we just get goober-on-the-street endorsements of how Thompson made them feel, which we already fuckin' knew.
I'll even be intellectually consistent here and posit that if Thompson is passable at the debate, and the media weasels do exactly what they said they were going to do -- that is, praise him because he doesn't drool and dig in his ass while he's on stage -- they would be doing a disservice to Thompson himself, on the off chance he actually said something worthy and substantive.
Since this collapsing circus tent of a party has nothing new to say or offer, that's not going to happen, but since the media have already decided what this year's storyline will be on our groovy campaign reality show, we'd never know it in the first place.