For me, what stood out was that he seemed the only candidate who held something back, who wasn't obviously aiming to pander or please, who has a sense of self that isn't purely that of a candidate. (That's partly what I like about Obama as well: he hasn't become a total politician yet.) You get the sense that Thompson may actually have a view that is his own and not filtered through various polling mechanisms [my bold].. -- Andrew Sullivan
Andrew's right about Fred, just like Peggy Noonan, who Andrew expressed his immediate affinity with on the point, is right about Obama. But the ground of their accuracy is still deeply troubling: the vaporous, looky-feely realm of 'senses of' stuff. Thompson and Obama give us a sense of self -- their own and ours. And we get a sense of that sense -- sending our political interaction with the candidates even further out into the psychiatric realm of vibrating holograms. Romney and Paul, for instance, give people visceral reactions. The appeal of Fred, Obama, and Huckabee, too, while I'm at it, is that they replace blatant public demonstrations of an utterly amoral lust for political power with a comforting vagueness: a sense of restraint, a sense of thoughtfulness, a sense of honor. These are virtual substitutes for the real thing, superficially inspiring but, as we really know, contentless and inadequate for any but therapeutic purposes. We want more than the consolation of living in an emotional meta-world of plausible denial. And our sincere attraction to the sense-fields of Thompson, Obama, and Huckabee ought to hammer home the nature of our true longing -- and demand of them the real deal.