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Saturday, June 02, 2007

A president named Fred?

Posted by: Jambo / 11:22 PM

Lance Manion (is that a 70s TV tough guy name or what?) has a great piece on why Fred Thompson should not be taken seriously as a presidential candidate:

The Mo Dowd Approved knock on Hillary is she is ambitious. She shouldn't be President because she wants to be President. Don't they all?

Well, sure. But Hillary wants it too much. How can we tell she wants it too much? Why, she's actually worked hard all her adult life to be qualified and competent to do the job.

By that standard, if working for the job is a sign you don't deserve it, then not working at all for it must be proof that you should have it and therefore Fred Thompson is the candidate, of either party, who has most earned the job by doing nothing to earn it.

Since he left the Senate, after a single term, Thompson has half-assedly pursued a second-rate acting career and diligently piled up big bucks as a lobbyist.

Ah, but while all the other candidates were busy working at being United States Senators or mayor of the most important city in the nation, or at serving as governors of out of the way backwaters like Massachusetts and New Mexico, Arkansas and Wisconsin, or at founding and running their own organizations for political and economic change, Fred Thompson was doing the more important work of building an image as a movie tough guy.

And image is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know when you walk into the voting booth, at least as far as the beautiful minds of our elite Press Corps are concerned.

Fred Thompson is a tough guy, declares Newsweek's Howard Fineman, as if being a tough guy was the qualification for President of the United States as opposed to the leader of a street gang. How do we know he's tough? Why, says Time's Mark Helperin, we know Thompson's tough because he's played so many tough guys well on TV and in the movies.

This is what it takes to be President, according to one of the most influential journalists in America: The ability to be passively accepted in a part someone else has written for you, someone else has directed your performance in, someone else has dressed you for, someone else has photographed to make you look like what you're playing, and someone else has edited to make sure only the very best of what you said and did makes it onto the screen, proves you are what you appeared to be and that then qualifies you to be President of the United States.

The rest of the post that continues along the lines of "why the political media sucks" is well worth reading, too.

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a part someone else has written for you, someone else has directed your performance in, someone else has dressed you for, someone else has photographed to make you look like what you're playing

And that's different from 99% of candidates how, exactly?

By Blogger Nerdie McSweatervest, at 10:07 AM  

Jambo, I am seriously disappointed. This is one of the most intellectually weak postings I have ever read. If you don’t like Fred Thompson, then write critically about what you don’t like about him in terms of political philosophy and policy rather than some ad hominem attack on his background. Come on, what you decry in the “political media” is exactly what your post represents.

Think about it. Jimmy Carter worked at being governor in an out of the way backwater. While I agree with a lot about him from a political point of view, and believe he is a great ex-President, he sucked as a President. Harry Truman was a machine hack politician and haberdasher. From an historical perspective, he is one of the great Presidents. Thompson has about as much real experience as Jack Kennedy, and more than Barack Obama. Rudy Giuliani was a prosecutor, got elected Mayor, and happened to be in office on September 11. I’ve heard a lot of conflicting opinion on whether he did a good job or not.

Frankly, they are all “qualified” to be President. The point is not how long they served in the Senate / House / Governorship / Mayor’s office / Dogcatcher / television / haberdashery / movie studio / CIA / Vice Presidency / candidacy-for-something. The point is, what do they believe in, and how consistent are they in that belief? Are they honest in a fundamental core way? Do I believe in their core stands, and from a policy point of view do I support their world view?

Were your post about the political media, I could agree with you. But, you have turned it into an attack on Fred Thompson. Like I said, if you want to critique Fred do it, but do it legitimately. What you say about him here and why he shouldn’t be President is just ad hominem B.S., just as the critique of Hillary. Manion’s not talking about Thompson or Hillary; he’s talking about poor analysis.

I expect better from you.

By Anonymous therealrepublican, at 11:56 AM  

I didn't think that the Republicans could put up a bigger dilettante for president than Ronald Reagan, but they just might do it with Fred Thompson.

By Blogger Spot, at 9:45 PM  

Hey, don't sell me short TRR, I bet I've written lots of things way worse than that! But if anything I thought I would get criticized for just phoning in a post since I didn't really write anything, I just posted an excerpt from some other blog. Be that as it may your comment made me wonder if we were reading the same post. I didn't think I said much about Fred one way or the other. My point (or Lance's really) was that the Washington press corp has a stupid standard for what candidates to take seriously. Personally I think Thompson would make a better president than some of the Rep candidates and a worse one than others. But I think it is ridiculous that he gets "tough guy" status because of acting roles he has had. What could possibly be more vacuous than that? Yet the guys who write that crap essentially get to set the conventional wisdom about candidates.

As for experience of other candidates you are right, Thompson has no less time in office than Edwards or Obama but he is instantly a top tier candidate to the press rather than a joke (you know, like any time a Democratic actor talks politics) for reasons that have nothing to do with government service or policies. Obama gets star treatment because the political speeches he makes and his life story inspire people to think he would bring a welcome change to government and be a leader that could unite the country. Agree or disagree whether this would happen, but that is why he is popular. To a lessor degree the same is true of Edwards with his "Two Americas" talk. It resonates with a lot of people politically. Personally I think Thompson is a big phony. Remember the red pick-up he rented to campaign in when he really drove around in a big Cadilac when he wasn't on the trail? Yet for some stupid reason he is a more talked about candidate than someone with a ton of relevant experience like Chris Dodd or Bill Richardson. And by the way, how many stories were there that said Obama should wait for 2012 before he ran or questioned his level of experience? In the early days it was about every third one. When are we going to see those about Thompson? Answer: we're not, because the press has already decided he is "presidential."

As for JFK, sure he had limited time in office when he ran but he also had that little thing about saving his PT boat crew under fire that made people think, yeah, maybe this guy could be a leader. And to be fair I think it cuts both ways. W's father often got dismissed as a light weight even tho he may well have been the single most qualified man (on paper at least) to ever hold the office. I didn't like the guy but he was VP, congressman, head of the CIA, ambassador to China and the UN, and something of a war hero himself.

By Blogger Jambo, at 11:47 AM  

Jambo, I’m glad to see that you’re back to your articulate self. You are absolutely right about the media. Gosh, when you have important stuff to worry about like Brittany Spears’ haircut, and how Paris Hilton looks in orange, why waste time writing about Iran? I still think you guys are being a little hard on Fred T. All pols try to project an image, and if the image is ready made from some movie parts, so be it. He was a staffer during the Watergate hearings and reportedly asked the question that revealed the secret taping system. So, he’s not stupid, or vapid. I’m not saying that I support him (not saying I’m not, either), just that we should not dismiss him just because he has or has cultivated an image.
I never thought about it, but you’re right about actors. John Wayne, Charlton Heston, RR never got criticized when they made political comments. George Clooney and Sean Penn really get dumped on when they do, however.
Speaking of Republican candidates, are you at least a little worried that some of them during last night’s ‘debate’ suggested that nuking Iran would be okay? I am. I don’t know who Ron Paul is, but I liked his response against preemptive war.

By Anonymous therealrepublican, at 2:48 PM  

Charlton Heston... never got criticized when [he] made political comments.

Are you nuts?

By Blogger Nerdie McSweatervest, at 10:58 PM  

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