Search results for the tag, "Fred Thompson"

May 22nd, 2007

Reverse Snob Appeal

Fred and Jerri Thompson

I used to believe that electing a president should partly be a popularity contest. Who’s the guy I’d most like to have a drink with?

The problem, of course, is that I’m never going to socialize with the president of the United States. Instead, my criteria should revolve around things that will actually or plausibly affect me, like Social Security reform, the death tax and net neutrality.

Yet the reverse snobbery of those who champion the beer primary was lost on me until I read this op-ed, by the editor of the Nashville Scene, which compares Al Gore to Fred Thompson. Here’s the nut (and here’s a quick question for this ilk: name a northeastern liberal who passes the beer primary?):

Thompson never came off looking like a cardboard cutout—the way Gore did as a presidential candidate—because there was a kernel of truth to the image. Who could imagine a teenage Gore driving a pickup along Massachusetts Avenue on his way to the privileged academic bastion of St. Albans? But young Freddie Thompson probably did kick back in a Chevy, drinking a beer with his buds, after a Lawrence County High School football game. As Tennessee columnist Frank Cagle once put it, Thompson fit that truck in a way that Michael Dukakis never fit the tank.

So I’m not misunderstood, character matters a great deal. But in electing a person whose powers include first-strike capabilities, considerations as to whether he went to prep or public school, whether his shirt is a hand-me-down or embroidered with a brand-name logo, or whether he avoids multisyllabic words because he doesn’t know many, are frivolous.

To put it another way, who would you rather have as a boss: a bombshell of average intelligence or an overweight nerd? One’s incompetence might result in your being laid off, whereas the worst that can happen with the other is that your circle of people to flirt with in the office shrinks by one person.

(Obligatory pop-culture reference, from Seinfeld:

JERRY: “So this woman you plan on hiring, is she going to be in the spokesmodel category?”

GEORGE: “Sure. I could go the tomato route. But I’ve given this a lot of thought Jerry. All that frustration. I’ll never get any work done. So I’m doing a complete 360 [sic]. I’m going for total efficiency and ability.”)

In the end, charisma and authenticity should be luxuries in politics.

Related: A few days ago, I wondered if the beliefs of a spouse are relevant in voting for a politician. Last month, I examined whether politicians should know the price of a gallon of milk.

May 6th, 2007

Fred Dalton McCain?

John McCain and Fred Thompson

Perry Bacon (who recently left Time to join the Post, where he’s been lighting up the Web site’s list of mostpopular articles) reports:

Thompson was perhaps McCain’s strongest Republican supporter, even advocating an early version of McCain’s bill that would have banned contributions from political action committees. (In recent interviews, he has complained that the enacted law has not had the effect that was intended.)

To me, this sounds strikingly similar to Mitt Romney’s position.

Perry, however, draws a different comparison: “The man some in the GOP are touting as a dream candidate has often sounded like the presidential hopeful many of them seem ready to dismiss: Senator John McCain.” Indeed, there is more than unites McCain and Thompson—hawkish interventionism, good government, campaign-finance reform, etc—than separates them.

Consider foreign policy (my hyperlink):

In a 2004 speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Thompson said that “every politician that describes Iraq as another Vietnam gives our enemies hope for success.”

“If someone says, ‘This is Vietnam,’ they’re predicting defeat,” Thompson said. “They’re predicting an early pullout. I think that is irresponsible.”

He called for “regime change” in Iran in a recent interview with the Weekly Standard, although he did not detail how that would happen. . . .

In 2000, he infuriated business groups, a rock-solid GOP constituency, by insisting that a trade bill with China include provisions that would allow sanctions on Chinese companies that sent weapons to rogue nations. He was unsuccessful.

This sounds like McCain on steroids to me.

Nonetheless, there are some differences. Whereas McCain was overtly hostile to the religious right, which consequently still distrusts him—who can forget his “agents of intolerance” and “forces of evil” remarks in 2000?—Thompson seems indifferent toward it. Similarly, against McCain’s regulatory instinct, Thompson, as a federalist rather than an ideologue, is more inclined to favor market-based solutions.