It’s not that I support Thompson. Just the opposite. I actually think he’d be a terrible president. But I also believe he’s going to be an attractive candidate to a lot of the Republican right because the already announced candidates just haven’t caught their enthusiasm yet. Certainly the three frontrunners have not excited the Republican base.
Because of that it would be a mistake for Democrats to write Thompson off. On paper, he can be a credible candidate, as this shows:
"He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a former member of the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission and a Visiting Fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, researching national security and intelligence. Thompson is also a public speaker with the Washington Speakers Bureauand is a special program host and senior analyst for ABC News Radio. He publishes a daily blog and podcast on ABC Radio web site."I’ve seen him at National Airport doing the NYC to DC shuttle. On paper he can appear to be a credible candidate.
But the rumor has gotten out that he is famously lazy – not a good trait for a candidate let alone for a president. I think that in the placid years of the Clinton administration, back in the halcyon days of 1999-2000, when America was at peace and had a truly good economy, one where the benefits actually filtered down to ordinary working people, Thompson’s lack of serious engagement wouldn’t have been a liability. In fact, back then, the most serious political issue seemed to be with whom it would be more fun to throw back a beer. The likeability factor got more serious media attention than an actual foreign policy debate did.
But these are serious times. The sizzling economy is not trickling down past the corporate boardrooms of Halliburton or the floor of the Wall Street trading floor. Ordinary Americans are losing good job, pensions, health benefits and their pay is mostly flat. And at the same time, we are in a seemingly endless war in Iraq with no exit. People may be losing their patience for the "aw shucks" folksy persona of rich phonies.
In Sunday’s Tennessean, Larry Daughtrey, one of Tennessee’s best political writers, has this devastating piece on Fred Thompson. Here’s the money quote:
In addition, I’ve known the rumors for a while that even while campaigning in that red pickup truck, Thompson would ride a few miles out of town and the limo would be waiting, which Daughtrey sort of confirms in his article.
"In the Washington world of workaholics, Fred is remembered as a virtual teetotaler. During his eight years in the U.S. Senate, an insertion into the Congressional Record amounted to heavy lifting.
His high school yearbook sized him up early: "The lazier a man is, the more he plans to do."
Sliding back and forth between the fantasy worlds of the silver screen and politics is nothing new for him.
Back in 1992, the Gucci loafers, Lincoln Continental and high-dollar lobbying fees of Fred D. Thompson, Esquire, weren't playing too well at the political box office in Tennessee. So, he bought an old red pickup and a pair of $100 boots, tuned up the drawl and beat a Harvard man for the Senate in Big Orange country."
Frankly, in National Airport, when Fred Thompson wasn’t thinking about future voters, he didn’t seem very friendly either. The exact word to describe him - when the klieg lights weren’t on for a Law and Order scene and the political press wasn’t around to sing his praise - is “dyspeptic.”
Of course, because running for president is hard work, Thompson might not do it. As an actor, it may be the ratings for next season and not the votes.
But, as Daughtrey put it, “if he buys a used Boeing 707 and paints it red, watch out.”