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Opening Arguments

Applause lines

The Indianapolis Star's Matthew Tully says Jill Long Thompson's campaign for governor in the Democratic primary "has spirit," but the candidate has to start being specific on ideas:

That's pretty much how the Democratic primary has gone so far. Thompson and her even dodgier opponent, Indianapolis businessman Jim Schellinger, have spent much of their time bashing Daniels and offering feel-good applause lines. That could be a winning strategy in the current anxiety-fueled political environment, but it's not very inspiring.

[. . .]

When it comes to criticizing Daniels, Thompson has her applause lines down. At some point, however, she'll need to explain what she would do better.

That's the kind of thing editorial writers and columnists always say, because that's what we're expected to say, but it's not always so.

It is true that if Thompson survives the primary and goes head to head with the governor, she will have to be specific. She can't just say what Mitch Daniels has done badly. She'll have to say what she would do differently and better. But her job now is to survive the primary, and that means convincing fellow Democrats that she is more up to the task of taking on the governor than Schellinger is. Those "applause lines" are not a distraction from what Thompson should be saying. Right now, they're the whole point; whoever gets the most wins.


tim zank
Thu, 01/31/2008 - 7:53pm

If memory serves, Jill was a tad light in the "bright idea" department in Congress as well. She's got a helluva resume (mostly academia) but I don't think she's got a prayer at elective office, especially the office of Governor.