Sunday, April 15, 2007

in Fred's head

My first glimpse into the mind and life of Fred Thompson. A snippet of the Weekly Standard article: the end of the conversation, two unexpected realities had emerged. If he joins the race for the Republican nomination, and if he campaigns the same way he spoke to me last week, Fred Thompson, a mild-mannered, slow-talking southern gentleman, will run as the politically aggressive conservative that George W. Bush hasn't been for four years. And the actor in the race could well be the most authentic personality in the field.

Thompson seems to recognize that he wins the guy-I'd-want-to-get-a-beer-with primary the moment he announces. He comes across as a regular guy--"folksy" will be the political cliché that attaches to his candidacy--and punctuates explanations of his positions with the kind of off-the-cuff homespun witticisms that Dan Rather spent a career trying to come up with.

And this part's important:

His voting record suggests a strong belief in federalism. Thompson was frequently a lonely voice opposing the federalization of what in his view were state issues. His unwillingness to compromise on that principle even put him on the losing end of a 99-to-1 vote on the so-called Good Samaritan law, legislation that protected individuals from being sued if their good faith efforts to help someone in distress were unsuccessful. He thought it should have been left to the states.

This was also quite informative:
I asked him about his vote for the Iraq war and the Bush administration's failure to explain to the American public the real story of the prewar intelligence on Iraq. I ask Thompson how it is possible that a majority of the country believes the Bush administration lied about Iraqi WMD, when the U.S. intelligence community and the world consensus was that Saddam Hussein had these weapons.

"Part of it had to do with what has become almost a knee-jerk suspicion on the part of a lot of people with regards to anybody in authority," he says. And then he directly faults the Bush administration. "A part of it has been the administration's inability to sufficiently communicate the reality of the situation. It's not just the president. . . . You have to have an organized, pervasive ability to get your message across and rebut erroneous misstatements of the history. It is amazing to me how something like this could be perceived so erroneously by so many people. Because we all
 know what the facts are. We've all seen the statements and the comments of Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, and the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, and the list goes on and on and on."

Thompson slips into sarcasm. "It is amazing to me how a man that they say is so dumb fooled so many real smart people. But that's what they're saying about Bush. Bush
 canoodled the entire Democratic establishment. Absurd on its face, and yet some people want to believe that sort of thing."

Then he goes on to give a better defense of the White House than anything that has come out of the White House communications shop in four years.

What did Thompson say? Well... you'd better read the article to find out. Keeping in mind that the article is more than a little fawning in tone, I am nevertheless impressed by what I've just read about Fred Thompson. While he's not about to displace Rudy Giuliani as my current top pick for president, he seems like a solid, stand-up guy.

Thompson knows how to work the media. Like it or not, that's an important skill for all 21st-century politicians to possess. He's got that ugly-boy charisma, he's plain-spoken, and he's articulate. I imagine that's a breath of fresh air for most people after nearly eight years of Dubya.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was kinda hoping that the failures of the Bush Administration would reveal to all the lunacy of voting for the more folksy, "guy I'd like to have a beer with" type.

I want an intelligent and capable president and could care less about how fun the guy is to drink with.