Stephen F. Hayes’ (Weekly Standard) profile of South Dakota Senator John Thune (R) created a lot of buzz about the prospects of Mr. Thune running for president earlier this week.
In a follow-up to the article, Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza called John Thune “the Republican Obama”, while Slate’s Dave Weigel responded with a short post titled No, no, no. John Thune is not the Republican Obama.
I’ve extracted some pro’s and con’s for a Thune for President campaign from Hayes’ profile:
- “exceptionally skilled retail politician who can communicate a kind of midwestern, common sense conservatism that is ascendant in reaction to liberal profligacy”
- “he’s cultivated the nationwide donor base that gave him $14.5 million to defeat Tom Daschle in 2004.”
- “South Dakota borders Iowa.”
- “he’s good on television.”
- “Last year, National Journal ranked him as the 6th most conservative member of the Senate.”
- “He is better than most at articulating the case for a return to limited government. And Thune makes that case in a common-sense way that draws people in rather than sending them running.”
- “he’s a devout Christian who can quote Scripture without seeming to proselytize.“
“Thune attended Biola University, a small Baptist College [correction: a private Christian University] in Los Angeles, following his older siblings. In a testimonial on the school’s website, Thune says: “I valued the biblical foundation I got at Biola. I was able to take classes that strengthened my faith and helped me to better understand what I believe and how to, in a practical way, apply my faith in real-world situations. I think God is looking for people who can apply their faith in a very relevant way to their profession. My faith is integral to the decisions I make and the way I conduct myself in public life.”
- “He has virtually no national profile.”
- “He worked briefly as a lobbyist.”
- “He voted for TARP.”
- “He is a defender of earmarks.”
- “He would be running against Washington from Washington.”
With that said, what did Chris Cillizza take away from the profile? He focused on the following quote:
“In an age in which presidential campaigns are driven by image, Thune’s looks are highly relevant. He does look like a president.”
Thune, according to Cillizza, mirrors “Obama’s skill set: charismatic and handsome but with a fundamentally different approach to government’s role in peoples’ lives.”
Who knew Obama’s charisma and looks were such important parts of his “skill set”?
Thune, like Romney, is “stylistically similar to Obama” according to Cillizza. “Someone with the bearing and look (don’t underestimate how important it is to look “presidential”) to credibly stand with Obama on a debate stage. The alternative, of course, is to nominate the anti-Obama — someone who in resume, approach and look draws a purposeful contrast with the President. Leading that group would be the likes of Govs. Mitch Daniels (Ind.) and Haley Barbour (Miss.) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also probably would be included in that group. (Daniels is also short and balding — providing a visual contrast with Obama.)”
Dave Weigel’s reaction:
“Is it important to ‘look presidential’? … It is far, far, far more important to be able to prove to the base that you were on their side on the issue they care about most.”
Hayes’ profile of Thune is an interesting read, while Cillizza’s comment is a superficial and unconvincing piece (as Weigel pointed out).
It’ll be interesting to follow Thune in the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections.