September 16, 2007

Fred Answers Your Question, Part 1

The Fred Thompson campaign has begun answering questions from Captain's Quarters readers as well as those of other blogs. In the first response, Senator Thompson answers this question on tax policy, submitted by Dan J on 9/5:

Our tax code is overly complex and it seems people spend more time and money finding loopholes or for compliance than anything else. Several options have been floated for reform. Two that interest me are the Flat Tax and The FairTax Act (HR 25, S 1025). Between the Flat and Fair tax, which do you feel would have a better chance or being enacted and would a Thompson administration make reforming--not applying Band-Aids or allowing more bad re-writes of the same terrible rules--the tax code a priority?

Here's the answer:

More answers will be forthcoming soon. In the meantime, what's your evaluation of the answer and this process?


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» Sunday Links from Stop The ACLU
Dr. Sanity has the Carnival Of Insanities ScrappleFace Reports: ACLU: NFL Patriots Also Spied on Fans in Stand CAIR Calls Joe Lieberman a Right Wing Nut! Captains Quarters: Fred Thompson Answers Your Questions. ... [Read More]

» Fred Answers Your My Question, Part 1 from Ayerd [dot] Com
Look, look, look, LOOK! A few weeks ago Captain Ed offered up a place for us to ask questions to Fred Thompson, he of the presidential aspirations. I decided to drop some madd political-type verbiage on the F-T man. Needless, so say, I didn’t ex... [Read More]

» Fred Thompson on Taxes from Blue Star Chronicles
Fred Thompson is answering Blogger’s questions. This one is from a commenter at Captain’s Quarters and has to do with tax reform. What do you think? Did he answer the question and if so, was it a good and reasonable answer? ... [Read More]

» The "Find The Answer" Game from Remembering The Republic
The question was pretty clear: Our tax code is overly complex and it seems people spend more time and money finding loopholes or for compliance than anything else. Several options have been floated for reform. Two that interest me are the Flat Tax and... [Read More]

Comments (71)

Posted by njcommuter | September 16, 2007 12:40 PM

When I followed the link above, I found that I had to register to read Fred's reply. Requiring registration to post comments is reasonable; requiring it to read comments seems iffy. But requiring it to read the candidate's position seems self-defeating. I'm interested in hearing what Fred Thompson has to say, but not committed enough to register just to read Thompson's position.

Posted by GM Roper | September 16, 2007 12:40 PM

I'm leaning more and more in Fred's Direction. If he keeps this up, he may, just may get my vote.

I darn sure won't be voting for anyone who is not a fiscal conservative, or for someone who thinks ear marks are just dandy!!

Posted by Conrad | September 16, 2007 12:44 PM

I was disappointed with Fred's answer. He acknowledged the problem but did not offer any ideas or solutions of his own to the problem.

Posted by Alex | September 16, 2007 12:50 PM

Actually, I was surprised at how old he looks. In that outfit he had the look of a retired factory worker, someone who'd done hard work all his life but was no sidelined. And yet, Fred Thompson has been living an easy, soft life all these years--but he still looks worn down, tired, low energy. Odd.

Posted by Daybrother | September 16, 2007 12:54 PM

I agree with Conrad. I also would have liked to have heard something about how his admin would view the resulting loss of the social engineering aspects of the IRS/tax code. Doggone it; I really WANT to like Fred but he's just GOT to deliver.

I really do like this Blog question-video response process Cap'n.

Posted by Silly Old Mom | September 16, 2007 12:57 PM

I would have liked his answer to have more detail about whether one tax plan is more likely to make it through Congress. I find myself wondering why he didn't give more detail. Did he just run out of time for the answer? Is he not familiar with one or more of the plans proposed? Does he want to leave things open, because it all depends on the party balance in Congress? Is he trying not to sound policy-wonkish? A little more meat, instead of "I agree with you" would have been better.

He did say that fundamentally reforming the tax code will be important in his administration, though.

Gotta say, though, I love being able to watch video Q&A like this. I wonder if the other Republican candidates are or will be doing the same.

Posted by Dennis M | September 16, 2007 1:00 PM

"The tax code is a mess ... we need to do better."

Thanks Fred. None of that had ever occurred to me before, but now that you've pointed it out --- yikes, you might be on to something!

Thanks again for taking a firm stand on tax reform.

Posted by Jean Auten | September 16, 2007 1:11 PM

He answered the questions that were asked: his administration would scrap the present system, and would look at alternatives.He looks like someone his age who hasn't had plastic surgery. That appeals to someone my age. The format is great. I wish other candidates were so accessible.

Posted by bcismar | September 16, 2007 1:16 PM

I think he probably did more than one take on this and settled on the response that had the fewest people getting up and walking out in the middle.

This is not a subject that one can really answer in a 3min clip. And consider the pitfalls to trying to put out an immortalized detailed answer. In less time than it would take to post the answer it would be assailed by everyone from the Anti-Fred side to the special interest groups who would see their ox getting gored.

Personally, he answered the question with his first word, "Yes" and had no sure path to improve his position from there at this time in this format.

Posted by Tom | September 16, 2007 1:19 PM

Disappointing. Easy response was "yes," tax reform would be a priority. Rest of response was thin. Questioner referenced two plans (Flat Tax and Fair Tax), and provided a clear invitation to expound further. Fred mentioned a "flat earth" and "fair earth" plan (verbal slip), and "other good plans" -- but no real substantive response.

CQ forum is a bit more informal venue, but responses should have a little more scripting.

Posted by Gbear | September 16, 2007 1:45 PM

If this was the first time he read the question, I think Mr. Thompson gave me a satisfactory answer, namely, "Yes". I believe it was the first sentence.
Re-stating the obvious is what a candidate does. I am glad the candidates are taking bloggers and blog readers seriously.

Posted by Ted | September 16, 2007 1:50 PM

I really like this format. Direct questions and direct answers from the candidates is a great way to get (potentially) more clarity on the candidate's stand on specific issues. It would be very interesting if other candidates would join in and we could click to compare and contrast their positions.

Specifically, on Fred's answer, I too would have liked more detail from him on what he saw as the pluses and minuses of the Flat and Fair tax. I expect he does have a more detailed knowledge and now wishes he would have been more forthcoming. Captain - will you let him take a mulligan and give it another try?

I expect this is just part of getting used to a new format and the answers will get better over time.

As to Fred's look. Perhaps he would have been more impressive in a suit and tie but each time I see him, the 'grown up' factor comes into play for me. Fred is solid and gives you a straight answer. In short, he's not a kid on the way up who doesnt' really know who he 'is', and is unsure of himself. What you see - is what you get.

He will show up on a video, in a ball cap, with a lap top in his lap, because that is 'just the way he is'. I think that is a good quality and makes me feel that he's a real guy and not someone who is filtered and managed by handlers. Personally, I'd rather have a candidate that is the 'real deal' than someone who is try to sell me something.

So, I give Fred a solid B on his answer and presentation.

Posted by Amendment X | September 16, 2007 1:52 PM

I agree with the above sentiments. With the time bar down to about 30 seconds, I'm thinking "Answer the question.Please."
He explained the problem. I don't need the problem explained...again.
He's open to reform. Great. What reform? And he didn't mention that the problem was and is spending, not taxing. Listen to any of the proposals: Fair Tax at 23-30% is Fair? A constitutional amendment that gives a flat tax at 10%, once would be a great incentive to control spending: if you ain't got it, you can't spend it.
Anti-angiogenesis-starve the blood vessels that feed the tumor. Including regulations and regulators: go out and get a real job.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 16, 2007 1:53 PM

Nope. Fred didn't sell me. But I can see him, at work, on campaign promises. Big deal.

First off, it's not just the "tax code" that employs people; so, too, does the Department of Education. And, the post office. JOBS actually are an important arm. And, we're not about to make the "arms" more efficient.

Styles can change, ahead. Heck, wacky-academia is all about changing the crap on the shelves, for newcomers. Who get credentialed. Supplying other assorted "crap."

And, the "best part of the tax code" is that our government can "take it" straight from the workers. And, there's pretty good compliance; because no employer wants to be hassled by the IRS.

Be wary of people's promises.

The good news is that there aren't enough people within the IRS to go around and audit everybody.

So, when Fred talks of "loopholes," he's addressing an entire nation of "scoff law breakers." Similar to anything you know? Sure, 55 MPH laws. Those were busted everytime most motorists went onto freeways, to toodle about.

Eventually, the signs caught up with reality; and, it's judges that set the "max" speed. Because when people get tickets, not just do insurance companies get to up your rates; they also get to see lots of people going to court. Some, not even hiring lawyers. Do you know what traffic court is like? Cause if you're fighting your ticket, the cop that gave it to ya, has to show up.

Why do men still promise such silly "fixes?" It's beyond me. ANd, corporations don't need no stinking reforms! Heck, check Microsoft. You'd be amazed how little they actually pay TO Uncle Sam;

As to Bill Gates' billions; there are already in place a number of charities. So that he's able to avoid death taxes.

While Leona Helmsley proved she couldn't avoid death.

Posted by Jezebel | September 16, 2007 1:58 PM

This was a standard political answer. Agree with the sentiment, and then offer no concrete plans. Worse, he didn't even offer his philosophy on the tax code. Well, other than the simplistic "it's too complicated".

Look, the question had meat in it. Both the Fair Tax and Flat tax look to eradicate the IRS (as we know it), and get rid of progressive taxation (richer people pay more relative to their income than poor people).

A more honest answer would have addressed problems with both these proposals. The tax industry is huge in the US and scrapping it altogether would be very, very hard. Add in the fact that about half the electorate would scream blue murder about losing the prograssive nature of our tax code, and it would be impossible.

About the best any administration could do, I think, is enact a tax simplification commission, which would be lobbied to death, and implement various proposals to shrink the tax code.

If someone could propose bullet proof legislation that make it unlawful for Congress to pass tax laws that are for the benefit of special interests, that would go a long way.

The reality is that the tax code is an easy way for Congress to enact various social policies while raking in campaign cash from special interests. Want to help education? Make it a tax preference. Want to do something about the environment? Have a tax break for installing solar panels.

Now, unless Congress all of a sudden turns libertarian and decides to not fiddle with social, industrial, environmental, etc. policy, then we'll be stuck with what we have...

Posted by Sue | September 16, 2007 2:14 PM

I didn't have to register. But, I was disappointed. Even I, without any experience, feel that I could have handled the question better:

Yes it is complex, for those making less than $100,000 per year. Those that are wealthy have tax experts to reduce what they owe or the wealthy have their money, like the Kennedys, out of the country. We would need a complete makeover and there are experts who have worked on the problem and should be listened to. The majority of Congress, lobbyists, state and local governments will be opposed to any changes. The IRS would certainly become just a skeleton crew and taxes would be fairer. Can we change it? Not without a massive commitment by those entities mentioned above. Can we begin a process for change? Yes! If you'll help and get your friends, family and business associates to begin to badger Washington, we could at least make a start. But it will be a long term commitment. I'm willing to start, will you?

That's what I would have said and I spent a total of a couple of minutes reading the question.

Posted by coldwarrior415 | September 16, 2007 2:26 PM

Seems a lot of us have been caught up in a dynamic that looks to the Presidency to not only solve all our problems but have termendous intellectual depth as well, on par perhaps with some multi-doctoral Ivy League "wunderkindt."

Thus, when a candidate speaks we too often try to parse every utterance to show that he or she is less "smart" than our favored candidate and our candidate "smarter" than the rest of the field.

If pure intellect were the only trait needed to be President...lets look at those who were above average in "smarts." Wilson comes to mind...perhaps too intellectual for his own good. In more recent times, Carter was a nuclear engineer. That got us what? Clinton was hyper educated, a Rhodes scholar no less, and this got us what? G.W. Bush was educated at Yale and Harvard, and a fighter pilot as well. I've been more than disappointed by W quite a number of times.

Yes, "being smart" counts for something, but to try to parse intellect from a 30-second or three-minute sound bite...seems to make this whole Presidential race thing to be nothing better than a beauty contest, and says more about us than it does about the candidate.

What drives the candidate? That should be what we look at, not how they can recite the tax code by rote.

What are the core beliefs and the track record over time of those beliefs put into action? Not that they can recall immediate every Supreme Court dicesion over the past 20 years.

What is their ability to move a crowd, a party, a nation, to "Lead?" Reagan was always at his stride when he did this.

What sort of people have they been associeted with over time? What sort of people do they associate with professionally and privately? Hillary needs to look at this one closely. What sort of people will they bring into the Administration? Those who are "smarter than they are" or those who are "less smart" than they are? Can they effectively use those they appoint to accomplish their goals? Can they rally their Administration and the populace around unpopular issues? Reagan again comes to mind.

What is their view of the Constitution? Not what is their view on how the government can fix up I-75, or the Missouri River, or save the spotted brown marmot. Are they a Federalist or are they in favor of nanny-governance? Do states have rights or not? Should the judiciary write law or not?

What is their vision of America today and tomorrow and twenty years from now? Again, Leadership. A good leader can tell his troops that he is about to march them into hell and back and the troops, if he is a good leader, actually look forward to the trip.

We need leadership. We do not need micromanagement. We do not need another nanny-presidency. We do not need a President to solve all our problems. We do not need our President to feel our pain. We do not need a President to tell us to turn down the heat and wear a cardigan. We need leadership.

Me? I want a President who will level with me, be honest with me, be plain spoken, not nuanced. A President who can encourage me, inspire me. A President who by simple language can let me know who he is, his values, his core, his person, his devotion to the Constitution, his devotion to this Country, so I can make that personal judgement to vote for and follow.

Of all of them out there, Fred comes closest thus far. Huckaby is within the circle as well. Wish Newt Gingrich didn't have the baggage...

The rest in the GOP pack? Not much spark there at all for this grey dog.

On the Dem circuit? None, thus far.

Posted by Matt | September 16, 2007 2:30 PM

I agree with a few of the comments above. The basic answer was yes, he wants to replace the current system. I like that. Whether he should know the details of the Flat Tax or the Fair Tax and endorse one or the other at this early juncture in his campaign is questionable to me.

As much as we all hate to admit it, being actually elected President requires building enough support for the big picture ideals of your campaign, not the minute details of this or that proposal.

I'm still interested in what Fred has to say and I think this is a good media for it.

My 2 cents worth.

Posted by Tom Villars | September 16, 2007 2:40 PM

While the format is great, it doesn't make up for the lack of content. Mr. Thompson gave an answer that any candidate could have given which proves he is a politician but not much else.

Posted by unclesmrgol | September 16, 2007 2:42 PM

While Fred didn't completely answer the question (Flat tax vs. Fair tax), he did point out an issue any replacement tax code would have to address -- the problems with favored treatment of certain products by their countries of origin.

We aren't just a victim -- we are a perp. I'd love to see all the agricultural subsidies and price supports go away. I'm particularly incensed that tobacco farmers are supported, and I'm upset that the intrenched milk interests can force a price floor under which the price cannot go -- a price which certain milk producers say they could easily drop below and still make a good profit. google the terms costco and milk and "price supports" to get the idea of why milk went up more than a dollar recently at costco; it wasn't costco's doing, it was the government's.

The Europeans bash our support of Boeing, but European goverments contribute to and support the products of Airbus Industrie.

Our tax code needs to be written to take into account foreign entaglements, and I think neither the Fair nor the Flat tax goes there.

The problem begs for a simple solution for the average taxpayer that lets them keep their jobs here in America.

Posted by dredford | September 16, 2007 2:52 PM

If he had the ability to do multiple takes with his video response, then this final product is disappointing. A candidate for president should be able to state his position on any issue within two minutes. He does not have to review the problem; I know the problem. There should be no misstatements or verbal gaffs. Look into camera (Lord knows that as politician you've done enough of that) and tell me what you think. Nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by Hugh Beaumont | September 16, 2007 3:07 PM

Fred's not saying anything different than any other Republican candidate.

What's he gonna do different besides admit the system is complicated and burdensome?

Posted by jmb | September 16, 2007 3:23 PM

I have to join his site to read the answer?

Seems coy and manipulative to me.

I'm definitely annoyed, which is too bad cuz I've been hoping to like Fred as a possible candidate.


Posted by Carol Herman | September 16, 2007 3:25 PM

Well, the way the economy "distributes," there are a lot MORE folk earning LESS THAN $100,000 per annum. Than there are people who earn above this sum.

This, alone, means MOST OF THE MAINSTREAM "swimmers" are people who work for others; and they've been freed up from thinking about "taxes," because it is deducted from their paychecks. When, they do send in their "1040's" ... it's to get refunds.

Heck, people still buy lottery tickets; also from the group who mostly earn "below" $100,000 per year. Proving? Hope springs eternal.

And, politicians, without any record you can point to; are the most likely ones to pontificate, galore, with promises.

Still, people are gonna want to "recover" from Bush. Who seems so "less than opportunistic" when real opportunities present themselves ... That ya gotta wonder how we go so far away from having the Man in the White House; the one currently occupying it, coming off so lackluster.

According to a piece Glenn Reynolds just put up; the American People, in general, don't like Bush. But the LOVE OUR MILTARY! And, that's why Petraeus did well. He repesents the military. And, we're finally doing better in Irak. Not on any of the "goals" "chimpy" had going into this adventure.

So, lots of folks are here, hoping the military wins.

And, they'd notice that's where the MAINSTREAM really is ... While we see Fred trying to bait his hook. Way too far away from me for his horse shit, or shinanigans, to matter.

I think, perhaps, Gingrich is waiting for him to slide off the scale. As 2008 is still in play. (Yet, I hate Gingrich more than I can tell ya.)

IF applying for the role of president just involves "talk" ... what is it with this acting?

Sure doesn't resonate well where it really, really matters.

Maybe, we can run Petraeus for President?

Posted by Carol Herman | September 16, 2007 3:29 PM

What's with the hat?

Fred's ashamed to be going bald?

Does he wear it to bed to fool his young wife? If not, he shouldn't be wearing it in videos where he thinks it makes a difference. Sure doesn't in my book.

So, he scores: NO BIG DIFFERENCE

Just a bunch of hooey. Meanwhile, look to stage left. Gingrich pounces in, when Fred's candidacy loses altitude.

True? Well, nobody predicts the future. But Ginrich isn't it yet. So maybe he's waiting for the sharks to devour Fred's run ... and then? All that will be in the presidential waters ... is "that" hat.

Posted by se7en | September 16, 2007 4:02 PM

Terrible. It wasn't even an answer. All he did is agree with the question that the tax policy is a mess and complex. "We need to do away with the tax code as it currently exists, and do better."

This is your typical Fred: uninformed and too laid back.

Romney is continually looking like the best candidate: polished, informed, and capable of bringing the best team together to run this nation at a critical point in her history.

Posted by Rich | September 16, 2007 4:20 PM

I like Fred. Whether practiced or not, the response appeared genuine. You can tell he's traveling in a motor home, and that he's taking time on his tour to read and respond to email. Compared to all the other candidates, he still smells the best to me - good speaking voice, says enough to answer a question, without saying so much he'll have to explain things away tomorrow. He's probably the first lawyer I could relate to.

I haven't registered yet, but Fred's getting a check from me this week.

Posted by KW64 | September 16, 2007 4:21 PM

We waited six months for Fred to get his positions down in order to make a presidential run and thats as good as he can do on an obvious issue like tax reform? He should have a position and use every tax-related question to hammer it home.

Rudy says people are used to the current tax code and won't endorse radical change like the Fair or Flat tax. Huckabee is for it. I still have no idea if Fred is for or against a Fair or Flat tax.

Fred says foreign companies have advantages under our code. OK what are you proposing? A lower corporate income tax to match what foreign countries have? What?

You say that your accountant buddy can't fill out his own returns because we do not know the answers to tax questions. Is that because the code is complex or because we make changes to the code faster than we get IRS rulings on ambiguities?

I do not like being negative, but we deserve a better answer than this. He will need to develop an actual tax policy before November of 2008 if he wants a mandate to actually implement some change.

Posted by Dub Dublin | September 16, 2007 4:29 PM

As said before - I want to like Fred, but he's not going to make it easy. The main thing he has going for him is that he's not Guiliani (=Hillary in my book, and WON'T get my vote), McCain, or Romney. Looks like we still need a conservative candidate- C'mon, Newt! There's still room!

I agree Fred looks tired, and even a rambling Texan like myself sees he simply must get his rambling under control. Just don't do these things when your dog-tired.

Fred flubbed a great chance to make positive progress on this super-important issue: 1) He at least appears not to be very familiar with the flat-tax and fair-tax proposals themselves, 2) He makes no mention of how the tax system might be changed at all, and what his stance on the 16th amendment or timing any changes with respect its repeal - it's hard to really discuss meaningful IRS replacement without addressing that 800-lb gorilla, 3) He completely misses the opportunity to discuss what the proper role of taxes should be (vs. is) in a society of free men.

BTW, Tom, that was "flatter" and "fairer" , not "flat-earth" and "fair-earth" - learn Southern! And Fred's responses should NOT be "more scripted", but they do need to be more thoughtful.

Posted by FRNM | September 16, 2007 4:31 PM

I think if people want more specifics regarding this or that, they would do well to not write questions that border on essays. If you need to know if a candidate favors the flat or the Fair tax, ask just that question. The more fluff in the question (like those found in the debates) the more opportunity for the candidate to ramble.

I think this QA format would be better served with simple, mostly one sentence questions. The candidates, if they answer succintly (a big if) could then respond to several in one sitting.

Posted by duggersd | September 16, 2007 5:09 PM

I did not have a problem watching his response and did not have to register for anything. I did find there was background noise. I personally would think that he would have had himself at least filmed in a more professional manner.
Now, about the meat of his answer. I do not believe he really answered the question, however, I can understand this. I do not believe it is a good idea to get cornered into one tax proposal or another. Steve Forbes ran on that and that got him nowhere. He gave the impression of dancing around the issue rather than answer the question
Personally, of the people in the race on the Republican ticket, he is the one I like the best. I am still open to others. It will be interesting to see how this forum plays out.

Posted by Conrad | September 16, 2007 5:37 PM

coldwarrior 415 I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Posted by patrick neid | September 16, 2007 5:38 PM

" The main thing he has going for him is that he's not Guiliani (=Hillary in my book, and WON'T get my vote)"

brillant as you are Dub, you will then be voting for Hillary.

Posted by Davecatbone | September 16, 2007 5:44 PM

I was disappointed Fred revealed a lack of knowledge about the two alternatives mentioned. He was evasive and vague about any specific strategy, and is leaving me still hungry. Fred, where's the beef, we want to believe in you.

Posted by Chaos | September 16, 2007 5:51 PM

I didn't see anything wrong with his answer. All the negative comments here, to my perception, are coming from a position where it's already been decided that Fred Thompson isn't your candidate and you're just looking for nitpicky reasons to further buttress your already-arrived-at conclusion. The man listed almost a dozen specific ways the tax code is flawed - how many would the average American be able to? The man is obviously trying to project the same down-to-earth image that worked for him in Tennessee - what you guys want are charts and graphs and 200-page policy papers strewn about all over the table with Fred in a suit hacking and slashing away with a pointer speaking in jargon. Sorry, but I don't think that's what the American people want.

Posted by SouthernRoots | September 16, 2007 6:16 PM

In the YouTube debate, or any of the debates, have the Dems been asked this question? What has been their response(s)?

Posted by Sturm Ruger | September 16, 2007 6:30 PM

It's too soon to choose. Fred can't just reform the entire tax system by executive order. So far, no one has mentioned that whatever tax plan Fred comes up with, he will have to run it through Congress to get it enacted.

Given the makeup of the current Congress, I can understand why he doesn't want to be more specific. Has anyone here given any thought to what Harry Reed's Senate and Nancy Pelosi's House would do with a Thompson Administration tax reform plan, whether it is based on a flat tax or a fair tax?

I suspect he will debate the pros and cons of each plan with his economic advisors, and they will factor into the decision what they think they can get variouspotential Congresses to enact. Whatever they decide on, it will be a significant improvement over what we have now.

It's still a long way to the election. I have enough patience to see Fred get more specific on the isssues. Overall, by September 27th, we should be hearing a lot more details and fewer generalities.

Posted by edward cropper | September 16, 2007 6:50 PM

He didn't really say anything as to what if any his ideas are concerning this mess. I would suggest Fred stay away from a camera of any kind. He is 65 years old and looks 75. He looks to me like he has lost weight since I last saw him on TV or computer.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 16, 2007 6:58 PM

Ya know, Fred looks sick.

Perhaps, on the other hand, people from Tennessee really are slow? But, here you have him, being rather weak. With a weak agenda, ahead. And, not much to show for his "search" ... while other candidates campaigned.

And, for some reason, Gingrich remains "poised."

Nah, not a sharp start. Though lots of politicians have fooled me.

I'm just not reading this as a rousing way to start.

And, yes, I suspect his health is actually in decline. We shall see. Why wouldn't he be up front and honest, though?

Posted by Tom | September 16, 2007 7:28 PM

Chaos wrote:

I didn't see anything wrong with his answer. All
the negative comments here, to my perception,
are coming from a position where it's already
been decided that Fred Thompson isn't your
candidate and you're just looking for nitpicky
reasons to further buttress your
already-arrived-at conclusion. The man listed
almost a dozen specific ways the tax code is
flawed - how many would the average American be
able to? The man is obviously trying to project
the same down-to-earth image that worked for him
in Tennessee - what you guys want are charts and
graphs and 200-page policy papers strewn about
all over the table with Fred in a suit hacking
and slashing away with a pointer speaking in
jargon. Sorry, but I don't think that's what the
American people want.

Chaos, pul-leez ... Just say whether YOU liked Fred's answer, spare us the details on how we all think and feel about Fred. For the record, I have already contributed to Fred's campaign, and I like his politics and style. But Fred could have been more responsive here -- his Fred Thompson Reports for ABC had a lot of content in a small time window, so I know he can deliver. Just hoping he will for the blog audience. It's an ideal format -- and no suit or easel charts required. :)

Posted by gaffo | September 16, 2007 7:42 PM

he looks sick and old.

BTW whats with your obsesession over Hsu, seems like you've been posting about this guy for years now.

who cares about Hsu anyway?

Posted by quickjustice | September 16, 2007 8:02 PM

Great format. Fred's steepling with his hands there at the beginning-- he's feeling cocky and superior.

Fred is experimenting here. The tax question is highly technical. Fred knows the current system is a mess, but what to do, what to do? A technical answer loses the audience-- so he just tells us he agrees that it's a mess.

Tax cuts, spending cuts, fiscal conservatism. There are a lot of things Fred could have done with this question, but chose not to. He can do better.

Posted by Country Squire | September 16, 2007 8:05 PM

I agree with Tom on this one. I too have heard Fred's radio spots on ABC and thought they were great (and would fit this new type of interaction)! And while I really like this concept, my first impression was that Fred just "tossed off" the answer. I like this man and if I had to vote today he would be my candidate. But if he doesn't want to answer the question or can't - just say so. We're all adults and most of us that read Captains Quarters are fairly astute politically thanks to Mr. Morrissey. Fred needs to share his view of the big picture with us – clearly and concisely.

Posted by Rose | September 16, 2007 9:24 PM

Posted by Alex | September 16, 2007 12:50 PM


If I were one of his family members, I would be very highly disturbed at the appearance of his eyes, since he is on Cancer treatment. Heart problems are very serious considerations for many Cancer patients, and the appearance of Fred's eyes in this clip are something he should seriously be discussing the causes of, with his doctors.

I wonder how long his treatments are scheduled to continue.

Posted by Rose | September 16, 2007 9:30 PM

Posted by Jean Auten | September 16, 2007 1:11 PM

... He looks like someone his age who hasn't had plastic surgery. That appeals to someone my age. ...


I suggest if you are seriously interested in him, I'd suppose you might also care about him, as well, so I personally think you should get a look at a series of his photos from this year - even just one of those State Fair appearances just a few weeks or a month ago --- he is significantly deteriorated in the last few months - and for a Cancer patient, his family should be very concerned.

Posted by mrlynn | September 16, 2007 9:47 PM

I lilke Fred, but personally want to hear a fire-and-brimstone stump speech, not an off-the-cuff rhetorical answer to a question for which he has no answer.

President Bush had a Tax Reform Commission, whatever it was called, which went exactly nowhere. No one in Congress or in the Administration wants to give up the federal income tax, so they won't. You might get a flat tax someday, if we get a true tax revolution (the people in the upper brackets stop paying, in protest).

Fred isn't leading a revolution. Maybe Newt will, some day.

/Mr Lynn

Posted by rascalfair | September 16, 2007 10:10 PM

Fred Thompson has to be better than the others...this answer isn't better. He's vague, offered no critique that's not common knowledge, and didn't answer the question specifically addressed to the nature of the fix for this obvious problem. A loser's strategy.

Re: how he appears....look folks, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma is a bad actor...he may be in remission now...and for a while...or he may not. I'm leery about betting the farm on that baby.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 16, 2007 10:29 PM

Sorry, Rose. No sale.

And, I do remember Fred's 1st bit. He took on Michael Moore; when the fat guy asked Fred for a debate.

That was a priceless use of video. Where Fred Thompson came out; unlit cigar in hand; and, he basically said to Michael Moore, "that he needed a psychiatrist."

It dawned on me, then, that Fred understood how to do videos. And, to add a bit of "funny" material; so you'd remember what you saw.

Now? He's advertising himself. And, he's not looking good.

No need to hold reality in abeyance, as politicians troll for votes.

I'd hate to see 2008 lining up with "old routines," that satisfy the BOOBS in Congress; with promises that "business will go on as usual."

Lucianne, by the way, has a wonderful photo-shopped photo; done with the speed of what you get when you cut out the "middle man" ... And, there you have Hillary; with all of Petraeus' medals on her chest.

Each "win" is identified.

She earned a couple on burying Bubba's escapades; and stealthily stealing furniture from the Federal government. How funny? Well, I read the small print.

The Internet is a whole new world of opportunties.

And, sometimes? In politics, some politicians let opportunities slip through their fingers.

Posted by Ron C | September 16, 2007 10:59 PM

Half the respondents in the comments here sound like mindless Democrats - as nasty as, anyway - particularly those taking jabs at Thompson's age and how he looked. (I had to snicker thinking how they would look if they kept up with the man's schedule)

Thanks Ed, for helping make this possible. Thanks to you, I'm getting a look at how shallow and vicious many here really are. I seriously doubt that most of the complainers could convincingly describe the pluses and minuses of the Flat Tax and The FairTax Act - and make a strong case for one over the other in the seventeen or so minutes Thompson spoke.

The facts are, more than 1.5 million US workers are employed in some fashion directly by the tax industry - in tens of thousands of corporations and small businesses. Another million approximately are employed in some supporting role to or of the tax industry (one major one, the printing industry.) Get rid of the IRS and you'll have a minimum of 2.5 million people out of work - and mad as hell. Not to mention the mad-as-hell legislators that spend 90 percent of their time in 'constituent services' - i.e., calling one or more federal agencies off the backs of their supportive voters (most frequently IRS related) - thereby gaining a solid vote-for-life from each and every citizen so 'served.' In fact, US-Congress-critters run the largest financial 'protection racket' in world history.

Wake up folks - the IRS isn't going away, nor is it likely that you will see anything that is remotely simpler or fairer - that is... likely without the bloodletting of another revolutionary war.

Thompson has my vote.

Posted by richard mcenroe | September 16, 2007 11:07 PM

You guys act like you've never seen an actor out of makeup before...

Posted by brooklyn - hnav | September 17, 2007 12:00 AM

Is the Captain working for the Thompson Campaign?

A great question, and a good video.

Like the format...

However, why not ask why Fred worked for the McCain Campaign which opposed the tax cuts that have helped this Nation so much today?

Why didn't you ask why he opposes promising against tax increases as well?

Or, did I miss this?

Posted by brooklyn - hnav | September 17, 2007 12:02 AM

Are you going to provide the same fair, objective questions for other Campaigns?

Romney or Rudy?

Or, are you partial?

Posted by TMLutas | September 17, 2007 12:14 AM

The format of the medium requires a short answer. There are no short answers that will satisfy on tax policy unless you are willing to sign over your brain to somebody else's plan. Thompson made it clear (at least to me) that he understands there's a problem and while there are a lot of good ideas out there embedded in this plan or that, he's not happy with any of them and is going to create something new.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 17, 2007 12:30 AM

The only "short answer" is that Fred doesn't look healthy.

Which "could" explain his slow start. As well as explain why so many upped and left his campaign.

It's not "all around the kitchen table," ya know. Drudge talked about some missteps made by Fred, I think in North Carolina. Where he said "he doesn't go to church." (Just carries the good book with him.)

Sure, this reminds me of Lincoln. Down to the fact that conservative folk back then had trouble bringing themselves to vote for him. But in 1860, the country was at risk ...

WHich is about the same, now.

We've got way too many scoundrels in DC. What surprises me the most? Did they ever have a better president, who delivered to them, than Bush? Why are they so angry? They're gonna miss him, when he's gone.

I don't think Americans are in the mood to put in someone else whose lackluster. Let alone lackluster in the speech department.

Ronald Reagan was an actor. Ronald Reagan also had a well developed political philosophy. I don't think he'd have taken a "tax question," and then bungled it on the idea "he wasn't given enough time."

Most people "pay" and complain.

What brought this to a head for Reagan, is that in his time, when he began earning real money; he found himself in the category where 90% of your income could get taxed.

90%? Shucks, I don't remember. But he brought it down!

We even see people, today, making decisions to live in states where they pay less taxes. Which means, there are people who work in Massa2shits; but live elsewhere.

Just as here, in LA. People call "Vegas their home." I know my accountant does. So, he must sleep in his car, between visits "home?" Huh?

We've got 50 states. 50 different systems. And, a Federal Government that's getting more and more expensive to run.

Fred seems to be weakening. And, he hasn't even gotten started. Nature calls? (More often than you think, too!)

Posted by Ken Oglesby | September 17, 2007 2:36 AM

Just got in from Santone and got to look in.
I like the the process you've set up.
It allows us to see the man as he is.
Hopefully all future questions and answers will be forthcoming in the same manner.
He already has my vote along with a little of my money(Very little.Contrary to popular opinion,truck drivers do not make that much money.).
However,I must call him to task on one thing.
He called our current tax system "an abominable mess".
That is a gross UNDERSTATEMENT!!!!!!!!!
Family friendly blog prevents me from saying exactly the kind of mess it truly is.

Posted by Captain Ed | September 17, 2007 5:06 AM

Come on, Brooklyn, I've posted *twice* that I'd love to do this for all Republican campaigns -- heck, it would even be fun to do it for Democrats. What do you need, a hat trick? I haven't been asked.

I think *your* bias is showing.

Posted by wolfwalker | September 17, 2007 6:58 AM

As a campaign tactic, I like the "answer questions by posted video" idea. As a useful answer to a serious question, however, this one fell a bit short.

I want very, very much to believe in Fred. I have no use for any of the other first-tier candidates, and precious little for most of the also-rans. I have no need or use for stirring orations, I'd rather have a guy who will get things done and won't waste energy on unnecessary trappings. So I don't mind his low-energy attitude in the slightest, as long as it does in fact represent that sort of attitude.

However, if he looks and acts like that because he really does have serious health problems ...

Posted by Beth Barnat | September 17, 2007 8:41 AM

Fred Thompson obvsiouly chose this question and had plenty of time to answer it, since he wasn't in a townhall forum.

These are my observations about his Q&A style:

Fred Thompson is a good salesperson, and this is why.

When someone asks him a question, he repeats the question in various ways.

Then he agrees that there is a big problem, a BIG problem and it needs be fixed.

(This makes the questioner feel affirmed.)

He just reminds me of Pa Kettle who was famous for saying, "I'm gonna fix that ... someday."

But ... He never offers any specifics and seems to pass everything off with his stance on federalism.

I just don't see what people see in this guy.

I don't want to mean, but he doesn't do a darn thing for me.

This style may be okay for some people, but there are a lot of other people, including myself, who want to feel that the leader I choose has energy, a good grasp on the subject matter, and ideas for solutions to problems.

Posted by goldwater | September 17, 2007 9:16 AM

Everything is "too complex" for Fred.

Learning his opponent’s positions...too complex.
Terry Schiavo case....too complex.
Setting a concrete announcement date...too complex.
Debating fellow Republicans...too complex.
Federal Marriage Amendment .... too complex.
How to fix the problems he highlights...too complex.

No wonder his pat answer to every question is ...FEDERALISM. I bet he likes Federalism because he sure as heck does not want to tackle to most important issues facing this country.

Posted by goldwater | September 17, 2007 9:44 AM

At least John Kerry said, "I have a plan"

Posted by james23 | September 17, 2007 10:13 AM

You're kidding! Scores of questions were submitted a few days ago, and now he issues forth with one answer to one measly question? One answer to one question??

I don't care for a system that allows the candidate to pick and choose which questions he wants to answer. And I'm really unimpressed if the candidate chooses to answer only one, several days later.

I prefer the old fashioned methed: put these guys in front of a rolling camera, turn the lights on, and start firing questions. It is obvious that Fred is uncomfortable with that far more revealing format, and so he avoids it.

As for this specific answer to the chosen question: yawn

Posted by FedUp | September 17, 2007 10:26 AM

If it comes down to Fred or Newt, Newt wins everytime. HE at least has a grasp of what's going on in the world and a clue as to how to resolve them - whether our congress would allow it or not.
Congress is the problem, people... they're the ones taking our money and dividing it up among themselves. We need to concentrate on getting rid of these porkers and the power-hungry!

Posted by jmb | September 17, 2007 12:19 PM

Ahhh...I misinterpreted the "must be a friend of Fred to view or post comments". When I simply click on the video I get to hear Fred's answer and I no longer feel 'manipulated' as I had said earlier. In fact, I like his answer just fine and think he knows a lot about the problem.

A single instant solution to problems as complex as the tax code I think are unrealistic. However, there needs to be multiple changes and they need to be analyzed and implemented in coordinated stages.

So, I'm back to liking Fred. And I think he tells the unvarnished truth as he sees it. How politically unusual that is. And how very welcome.


Posted by romney facts | September 17, 2007 1:29 PM

This was a waste of time. He did not answer the question, just repeated it back.

Posted by Deblynn | September 17, 2007 2:03 PM

Thanks for doing this, Captain. I think the format works just fine.

For those whose comments mentioned, why just this one question, and the like, perhaps they missed the part in your post where you explained there would be a series of questions that Fred would answer, and this is just the first of many.

As for his answer, IMHO, I think it was pretty straight forward. It outlines his goals as specifically as one can in a mere three minutes with respect to a very complex and charged issue.

I'm looking forward to the next one.

Posted by anon | September 17, 2007 2:04 PM

Whatever you may think about FT (I like him), no candidate that goes into details about controversial policy issues will *EVER* be elected.

The minute he does, that is point the opposition tv commercials start with:
"John Doe says he 'likes the fair tax plan', but do real Americans want a tax plan endorsed by a puppy blender like Glen Reynolds"
--repeat ad nauseum--

FT is going not going way out on a limb here, but nobody else in serious contention for the nomination is either.
Nonetheless, he clearly comes down on the side of scrapping the tax code rather than a tax 'band-aid'.
He doesn't commit to either of the proposed alternatives. So what?
The congress will have to make that decision anyway, the president is mostly cheerleader/bully pulpit for his party in situations like major tax reform. Why should he commit to specifics that he will have little control over by the time congress is putting the lipstick on the pig.

Posted by JAF | September 17, 2007 2:09 PM

1) he looks older and sicker than President Bush after serving 8 years as leader of the free world

2) he has his staff writing up answers to questions they receive days in advance- and that is the best he can come up with?!

3) every analyst is stating that 2008 will be a "change" election from the last administration. So some conservatives want to put up a very old and tired looking southern good ole boy to go up against the Clinton machine. Brilliant!!

Posted by JAF | September 17, 2007 2:20 PM

"I too have heard Fred's radio spots on ABC and thought they were great"

so not only are you supporting a guy because he is an ACTOR and reads a script, you are supporting him because he could read a 3 minute speech in an ABC control room that someone had written for him over the course of several weeks?!!

This is the intellectual heights that the GOP is reaching for?!!

My g-d, even Reagan would go around the country for YEARS talking at hundreds of rallies about the issues of concern.

Fred waits on the sidelines for six months, then in his second week holds ZERO public appearances?! And that doesn't concern any of you in figuring out who is our best shot at stopping Hillary?!

Posted by james23 | September 17, 2007 3:16 PM

"For those whose comments mentioned, why just this one question, and the like, perhaps they missed the part in your post where you explained there would be a series of questions that Fred would answer, and this is just the first of many."

WOw! so every few days, Fraud! will pick one question, and do a taped answer, reading something his staff wrote for him! What a great new system! How forward thinking! just beats the heck out of the chaos and spontaneity of a press conference or a debate. We wouldn't want old Fred to have to deal with that, no sir. No telling what the ol geezer would say.

Posted by duggersd | September 17, 2007 9:48 PM

I heard Fred Thompson when he subbed for Paul Harvey for a couple of weeks. I remember thinking he had a way of talking that made you feel he was talking to you. Ronald Reagan could do that. I did not see that in this video. Maybe he will look and sound better in others. I do not know if he is so badly ill as some suggest. I doubt it or he would not be running. For me, the bottom line is if I have a choice of Fred Thompson or Hillary, it is Fred. Mitt Romney or Hillary, it is Mitt. Rudy Guliani or Hillary, it is Rudy. Al Gore or Hillary? I think I would go with Gore. The primaries will weed out the candidates who are the least likely to win. Who knows? Maybe by the time the primaries get to SD in June, we could be the deciding factor?

Posted by Bill Hobbs | September 20, 2007 9:38 AM

Fred isn't sick and isn't on cancer treatment.

As for how he looks, check out this slideshow of photos from his recent speech to a huge (10,000-plus) crowd in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.

He's healthy.

He looks like he's lost weight because he HAS lost weight - not because he's sick, but because he slimmed down in preparation for the race.

To see more videos of Fred, go to and click the FDTV button or the Fred File button. He comes across as quite healthy and vigorous.

He does need to ditch the ball cap, though. It doesn't flatter him. Even though I'm a huge Titans fan.

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