Kathryn Lopez writes the obit:
What his campaign may have lacked in organizational luster and ambition it made up for in authenticity and charm. You knew his greatest dream in life wasnt to be president. You knew hed be happy living life with his family, advising those who wanted his opinion and expertise, talking federalism with Beltway friends on weekends. When he was on Meet the Press a while back, Claremonts Seth Leibsohn said, admiringly, Fred came off like his hour there was not the most important thing he had to do that day. Theres something attractive about that. And that it wont get you elected president is todays reality, its a reality to reflect on.
For myself and other former Fredheads, this authenticity is something McCain doesn’t have. Huckabee doesn’t have it either, once you start digging into his Arkansas record and finding out that this Baptist minister-turned Arkansas governor was not the guy he is now. Mitt Romney suffers the most from his perceived lack of authenticity, and I think that he struggles when he tries to be someone he is not. This is something he is improving on throughout the primary process, and I am encouraged about his future prospects because he is emphasizing his strengths and his resume instead of trying to be the most conservative guy in the field. (Although you could argue that this has changed now that Fred is out…)
I liked Fred Thompson because he was the closest thing we were going to get to someone who agreed with us on all the issues we cared about. He was a consistent conservative, even though he did support campaign finance reform in the past. He was never going to be another Reagan, and we need to quit looking for one. But what he did have is the willingness to fight for conservative principles, and the conviction to make us believe that he was one of us and had always been one of us. He wasn’t afraid to challenge the media on their stupidity, and to challenge Michael Moore on his flawed view of health care. Conservatives find that a very attractive quality in a candidate.
The Fred fascination was only partly about Fred himself. Conservatives feel that the Republican party establishment has shifted to the left, as far as being more accepting of illegal immigration and bigger government/reckless spending. We are trying to push back against the direction Washington Republicans want to take this party, and Fred was somebody who I thought would do that. It was more than just saying all the right things. Any candidate can do that. But Fred was the most believable based on his past record.