Is Bush smarter than a fourth-grader?

Notes from the political sidelines.
May 17 2007 3:58 PM

Is Bush Smarter Than a Fourth-Grader?

Maybe he's failing on purpose, to help our young people make gains in civics and history.

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(Continued from Page 10)

The "Law & Order" vote is more contested than you might think. If Michael Bloomberg doesn't run, Thompson's co-star Sam Waterston could win the nomination for the independent Unity08 ticket. Waterston's predecessor, Michael Moriarty, says he is running for president as a Libertarian. Since Jerry Orbach is dead, Democrats would be lucky to get S. Epatha Merkerson or Benjamin Bratt.

Of course, Republicans haven't considered the dark side of a Thompson run. Under the fairness doctrine, whenever one of Thompson's movies or shows airs on television, stations will have to grant opponents equal time. The result: no more "Law & Order" reruns with Fred Thompson. In fact, with so many past and present cast members in the race, even a show as prolific as "Law & Order" could be driven out of syndication altogether. If that happens, the Power Women backlash could destroy Republican prospects for decades.

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The show itself isn't doing so hot, either. For its 17th season, L&O was moved to its worst slot – Fridays – and saw ratings plummet. Republicans who think Thompson is coming to the GOP's rescue might look again: He may be jumping from one sinking ship to another.

But those aren't the only risks Republicans run with Thompson. The real problem with choosing Fred Thompson to lead the GOP across the gender gap is more profound: Even Republican women don't seem to like him.

In two recent polls, Thompson has a gender gap, all right, but in the wrong direction. He does OK with men, but is trailing badly with women. In last week's Los Angeles Times poll, he's running first among religious conservatives, a strong second among men, and a poor third – 20 points behind frontrunner Giuliani – among women. In a Zogby poll, Thompson did twice as well among men as among women. At only 6% among women, he was at the back of the pack, tied with Ron Paul.

From Mike Kinsley to John Fund, pundits agree that women love "Law & Order." But the polls also seem to agree that women don't love Thompson. In other words, the gender-gap argument for his candidacy has it backwards: Fred Thompson does worst among those who know him best – women.

Five years ago, when he broke the story of women's obsession with the show, Kinsley noted that his wife had no interest in watching current episodes:

She couldn't tell you what night it's on and has no view about what this country is coming to when a man like Fred Thompson can be plucked from the obscurity of the United States Senate and entrusted with the responsibility of running the prosecutor's office on Law & Order.

Kinsley was right about Thompson, but wasn't giving his wise and powerful wife enough credit. She was so far ahead of the curve, she was skipping the Thompson episodes on purpose. Never underestimate the power of Power Women, as Fred Thompson is about to find out. ... 5:02 P.M. (link)

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Monday, Apr. 9, 2007

Cherchez Lapin:From missile defense to concealed weapons, Republicans have long sold themselves as the party to turn to for security. Mitt Romney is no exception. During a telephone question-and-answer session in Iowa last week, one caller told Romney, "You sound like a guy who sells home security systems."

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