Nowhere on the [Phoney Fred] site was any indication of who was responsible for it. But a series of inquiries led to "Under the Power Lines," the Web site of the political consulting firm of J. Warren Tompkins, Romney's lead consultant in South Carolina. Tompkins did not return phone calls seeking comment.Smut? I guess Thompson really is more conservative than Romney. The Thompson folk think mockery and satire is smut? But it is undignified... and thus better left to independent blogger types.
Late yesterday afternoon, a spokesman for Thompson called on Romney to fire Tompkins.
"There is no room in our party for this kind of smut. As the top executive of his own campaign, Governor Romney should take full responsibility for this type of high-tech gutter politics and issue an immediate apology," said spokesman Todd Harris. "If this is true, Governor Romney should exercise some of his much-touted executive acumen and immediately terminate anyone related to this outrage."
In 2000, it was in South Carolina that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ran into an organized effort to sully his character and spread rumors, including that he had once fathered an illegitimate black child. At the time, candidate George W. Bush was desperate to stop a surging McCain, who was coming off a stunning upset in the New Hampshire primary. Tompkins was the chief strategist for Bush in South Carolina at the time, though Bush campaign officials have always denied that the campaign was responsible for the attacks.Imagine if that 2000 crap had been done on the internet and left a trail back to Bush. It would -- I think -- have ruined Bush.
But I don't think it's right to compare Phoney Fred to the scurrilous campaign against McCain unless you can point to some lies.
Before it vanished, the front page of the Web site featured a picture of Thompson depicted in a frilly outfit more befitting a Gilbert and Sullivan production than a presidential candidate.That's just humor, fact, and opinion, isn't it? "Skirt Chaser" isn't a lie. The man was once single and interested in dating women. So what? It's not the same as what was said about McCain, which was: 1. a lie and 2. intended to stir up racism. Calling Thompson a "skirt chaser" is supposed to make him look less conservative than Romney, who married his high-school sweetheart and has never divorced, and the hope is that Romney's strong family image will help him with some voters. But hoping to appeal to voters who care about families is scarcely the same as trying to leverage racism.
Under the heading "Playboy Fred," the site asked the provocative question: "Once a Pro-Choice Skirt Chaser, Now Standard Bearer of the Religious Right?"
A side note on spelling:
Phony is the usual American spelling (the plural is phonies), phoney a fading variant (and the usual British spelling).I don't think the Phoney Fred folks chose the fading, British spelling to convey some meaning about Fred Thompson. I think they just weren't up on good spelling and the "-ney" ending looked right because they'd been staring at their candidate's name so long.