Fred Thompson’s threat to enter the presidential race has spawned such venom, you’d think he was responsible for the deaths of small animals.

One has to wonder what’s at the source of this animosity.  Many seem to doubt the seriousness of his candidacy, such as Slate who writes that while Thompson may make conservatives feel good he “has less experience than all the other top GOP contenders.” 

You would also think that Thompson was questioning the divinity of Christ. What else would make evangelical leader James Dobson throw down the gauntlet? “Everyone knows he’s conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for,” Dobson said of Thompson. “[But] I don’t think he’s a Christian.”

Perhaps Thompson’s opponents are looking at these early polls and reading the tea leaves. Fox News has him coming in third among GOP candidates. He is also polling third among GOP Republican voters in the all important blue state of Pennsylvania.

Perhaps most telling is a warning recently posted at the leftist DailyKos.

Laugh his candidacy off at your own peril. Unlike Bush or many of the right’s other “stars” like George Allen, he’s no lightweight. (And remember, plenty of us laughed at “W” early on, too; let’s not forget how that turned out). Yes, Fred Thompson is a down-the-line Republican. Yes, he favors maintaining our commitment in Iraq. But he’s very intelligent, a strong speaker and an excellent debater. He’s generally well-respected by members of both parties in Washington and though he has been a loyal soldier for the Bush administration, he is not known to be ultra-partisan or a crony. In fact, he first rose to fame as one of the chief investigators on the Watergate counsel. I’m not writing off our chances against Thompson; I still think that, given the political climate, we’d be slight favorites. But we’d certainly have to fight hard for it. And though I like our chances against any of the current Republican top three, I’m nowhere near as certain about those chances against Thompson.

Small fury animals, look out!

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