Wednesday, July 25, 2007



The new Reagan? Or a blind squirrel?

Fred Thompson doesn't count himself among Newt Gingrich's "pathetic bunch of pygmies," as the disgraced former Speaker accurately described the current Republican presidential field. That's because he hasn't officially declared yet. Then he'll be an official pathetic pygmy too? Well, maybe not-- according to Gingrich, who says he may not run if Thompson gets in-- or maybe yes, if you read the Fred Thompson profile in the latest issue of New York, The Actor.

Right from the git-go, writer Stephen Rodrick asks if the Thompson campaign's presentation of their packaged boy as "a true southern conservative and a plain-ol'-folks regular guy" is just another role he's playing. Rodrick has managed to find most of Thompson's weakest points: he maybe be lucky but he's lazy and he's a phony. "Since announcing this spring that he was considering a presidential run, Fred Thompson has improbably jumped to the front of the line for the GOP nomination. In two mid-July polls, Thompson led Rudolph Giuliani by a point or two, and while other recent surveys show the former New York mayor in the lead, Thompson’s strength in key southern states, including the aforementioned South Carolina, has not gone unnoticed. This despite the fact that the famously laid-back Thompson has barely campaigned, forgoing the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-make-a-thousand-trips-to-Iowa strategy in favor of the odd Leno appearance and a YouTube jab at Michael Moore, in which he essentially told Moore that if he didn’t love America, he should leave it, and go to Cuba."
So far, the Thompson bubble has floated skyward on several favorable updrafts. He’s the newest man in the race—and one with celebrity name recognition. He’s a Southerner and arguably the most conservative candidate in a field devoid of hard-liners. Despite his eight years in the Senate, people seem to buy the idea, for the time being anyway, that he’s a Washington outsider. And all of his opponents have significant liabilities. But then again, so does Thompson. Among them are his work ethic and authenticity.

Thompson's camp claims that Giuliani isn't conservative, that McCain isn't plausible and that Flip Flop Mitt isn't consistent. But the only plank on Thompson's platform is that he's more like Ronald Reagan than the rest of the pygmies. And many on the far right of the GOP (though not all) are falling for Thompson's dubious appeal. Like Reagan, he comes across as "affable." A man with no other discerbnable attributes, his affability has been all he's ever had to trade on, all that's gotten him ahead in the world. It's probably enough to get him the GOP nomination-- and, in all likelihood the biggest Republican general election smackdown since Barry Goldwater's.

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At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lazy he may be, but that attribute didn't prevented hundreds of millions of Americans from voting for Reagan and Junior, two other Repubs frequently described as lazy.

Plain Ol' Fred is not without his warts, but out of all the GOP candidates he's the one that scares me the most. In the right circumstances he can ooze that peculiar combination of pickup truck-folksiness and deep-voiced gravitas that craploads of Americans have proven to be mindless suckers for time and again. The fact that he's Southern will prove to be of deep psychic comfort to the Republican base, too. Giuliani will always be a brash, loudmouthed New Yorker, and the Mittster is such a transparent chameleon that he is of no region at all. Fred can just open his yap and utter a couple of homespun metaphors about his thoughts of Jesus while in the backwoods of Tennessee, and the evangelicals will swoon. As for his embarrassing pro-abortion rights baggage, the Christianists are already falling all over themselves to forgive him.

This is not to say that he's unbeatable. He still will have to drag the humongous anchor of Bush and Iraq around on the campaign trail, and in a variety of minor appearances in places like New Hampshire he's been less than impressive. But he will have one advantage over any Dem candidate: the press will fawn over him like no candidate since Reagan. That alone will be worth lots of votes.

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it me or is Fred looking more and more like Reverend Henry Kane from Poltergeist 2?


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