Fred Thompson

What Kind of Loser Is Fred Thompson?

|

Memes grow up so fast these days. Over the course of a few hours last night, the liberal blogs (inspired by Ana Marie Cox) agreed that Fred Thompson is this year's Wesley Clark. From Matt Yglesias' omnibus post:

I agree that Thompson's luster is likely to fade. But what happened with Clark is that it seemed like he'd be a strong candidate—military background, southerner, etc.—but then it turned out he was really bad at campaigning. Thompson's actually campaigned before and it seems he was pretty good at it. If he stumbles, it'll be for some other, not-especially-Clark-like reasons.

This is mostly right, but the Thompson movement isn't much like the Clark movement. Republicans like Thompson because they hate their other candidates. Democrats liked Clark because they wanted to compete with the GOP on national security issues without actually working out stances on the Iraq War and the "war on terror." They approached the problem by… fetishizing candidates with military experience. This was confirmed in an American Prospect cover package called "Real Soldiers," which boosted John Kerry and Wesley Clark as the guys who could give Democrats instant wartime credibility. (This hinted at how little liberals understood about Vietnam vets' anger at Kerry, but whatever.) Mike Tomasky plugged Clark this way in a story called—of course!—"Mr. Credibility":

Whether Clark runs or not…. his mere presence on the national stage, his coming out of the closet, as it were, as a functional Democrat who opposes the administration's war aims and who just happens to have been a NATO commander, could instantly make the Democratic Party more plausible on foreign affairs than it's been at any time since a general named George Catlett Marshall was containing communism and rebuilding Europe with a president named Harry Truman. "I think it's safe to say," says former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, "that the supreme allied commander of NATO has a certain credibility on military affairs that is not usually associated with members of the Democratic Party."

As poorly as Clark did, Democrats never gave up on the rationale behind his candidacy. In 2006 they recruited a bunch of ex-military candidates—the "band of brothers"—to contest Republican seats. Most of them lost, but Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Penn.) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) got in, and Democrats pushed them to the front of the press box to argue their position on the Iraq War. The result: "credible"-sounding Democrats who still haven't confronted the post-9/11 national security orthodoxy with a vision of their own. And who just approved more funding for the Iraq War.

So Thompson isn't really like Clark. He has the right positions for the GOP base, he doesn't irritate whole chunks of the party, and he's better at expressing the party's message than their frontrunning candidates. In other words, he's Barack Obama.

Advertisement

NEXT: When Your Detainees Absolutely, Positively Need To Get There Overnight...

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Plus, he has thousands of people who think he’s the New York City DA. That can’t hurt.

  2. In other words, he’s Barack Obama.

    Nah, he actually has said at least two things of substance. Obama is a hallmark card walking, no substance of yet.

  3. Well now the GOP knows who the left fears as a candidate.

  4. He’s also one of the biggest Bush cheerleaders in the race. Yippee….

  5. “In other words, he’s Barack Obama.”

    There’s his campaign slogan: “Fred Thompson, the white Obama”

  6. For Thompson to be Wesley Clark, Clark would have had to run against the military, the way career-lobbyist/Senator Thompson is running against “Washington.”

  7. “credible”-sounding Democrats who still haven’t confronted the post-9/11 national security orthodoxy with a vision of their own. And who just approved more funding for the Iraq War.

    Yep.

  8. Everybody runs “against Washington,” even Presidents seeking a second term. That’s why they have ranches.

  9. On the other hand, the American people would never elect an actor as president.

  10. True, Cab, but not everybody makes that the central theme of their public persona, as Thompson did when he rented the truck, and is trying to do again.

    Would Thompson be the first lobbyist to become president?

  11. I find it humorous that Reason would suggest someone else is a loser.

    The Lib party is the biggest bunch of losers around

  12. No wonder your president has to be an actor. He’s got to look good on television.

  13. Ana Marie Cox — wasn’t she the one who was staining Monica Lewinsky’s dress? Or was she the one that had anal sex with Congressmen for cash?

    I can never get those Washington socialites straight.

  14. Would Thompson be the first lobbyist to become president?

    No, Abraham Lincoln made his money as a lobbyist. I’m sure there presidents before him that did too.

  15. joe, true on the whole “rented truck” thing.

    Thompson wouldn’t be the first lobbyist to become president, just the only one that admitted it.

  16. I didn’t know that, tarran. Are you talking about Washington, or Springfield?

  17. I find it humorous that Reason would suggest someone else is a loser.

    The Lib party is the biggest bunch of losers around

    Nuh Uh! Your a loser!!!

  18. Yeah, a lawyer employed by railroads fits the definition of 19th century lobbyist fairly well, and I don’t remember specifically, but it would surprise me a little if ol’ Abe didn’t ply his trade in D.C. at all. Of course, a larger percentage of the lobbying action in those days took place at the state level, so it could be that he never lobbyed in Washington.

  19. Springfield, for the transportation industry (railroads mainly). Back then, the state legislatures were where the money was.

    He even turned down the governorship of some western territory to stay in Illinois.

    When he was running for president, though, his platform was that he wanted to implement Henry Clay’s vision of big government subsidising big business, which would be a lobbyist’s dream.

  20. joe,

    You’re slipping. The correct response is, “Lincoln was a Republican.”

  21. “This hinted at how little liberals understood about Vietnam vets’ anger at Kerry, but whatever.”

    I’m a liberal, and a Vietnam vet, and I was not angry at Kerry, even though I felt that both as a protester and as a senator he was driven far more by ego than anything else. John Kerry volunteered for combat duty, something I surely did not do, while George Bush volunteered for government-funded draft evasion. And conservatives made George their hero. Go figure!

    As for Thompson, he was an eight-year flop in DC. Unlike LBJ and WJC, he never mastered the art of both chasing tail and doing politics at the same time. And when you see him on the Tube, doesn’t he look, you know, old and fat?

  22. John Kerry volunteered for combat duty, something I surely did not do, while George Bush volunteered for government-funded draft evasion.

    GW Bush volunteered to fly very dangerous fighter jets. A funny way to evade the draft.

    He also asked to be transferred to Vietnam, but was turned down because they were drawing down the fighter corp in Vietnam and didn’t need him there.

  23. Just wait until it comes out that he has an illigitimate child that he fathered with a married woman the he doesnt claim in public.

    yeah…thats real Presidential material! NOT.

  24. “GW Bush volunteered to fly very dangerous fighter jets.”

    Only one F-102 was shot down during the entire Vietnam conflict and was in service from 1956 to 1976. It had a high incidents-per-flight-hour ratio, but low casualty rate. Perhaps it would have been more dangerous for Bush because he never had the training that other officers had.

  25. Only one F-102 was shot down during the entire Vietnam conflict and was in service from 1956 to 1976.

    They weren’t used much in-theater – they were pure interceptors, not good for most of what needed doing.

    It had a high incidents-per-flight-hour ratio, but low casualty rate.

    That’s plenty dangerous enough for me.

    Perhaps it would have been more dangerous for Bush because he never had the training that other officers had.

    Odd, then, that he had such good fitness reports.

    Not much of a fan of many things he’s done as President, but I do struggle with people who bag on his volunteer service as a fighter pilot. Especially since so many of them go apoplectic if anyone questions Kerry’s “three band-aids and you’re out” 7 months in Vietnam.

  26. “That’s plenty dangerous enough for me.”

    It’s plenty dangerous enough for the Senator’s son, too. And for the hundreds of people on the waiting list that he jumped ahead of.

    My father avoided the draft by joining a Marine Reserve battallion, where he worked with very dangerous automatic weapons and explosives. Like Dubya and the former Texas House Speaker who described pulling the strings to get him into the fighter squadron that was known as the “Champagne Division,” lots of draft dodgers picked “much less dangerous” over “much more dangerous.”

    To be completely accurate, there is a relevant difference – my father didn’t support the war, while Bush was known even back then for his strong advocacy for sending other people there. But regardless, let’s not send the Memorial Day Parade program back to the printers, just to include an “Ode to Reserve Volunteers from the 60s,” mmm-kay?

  27. RC,

    I don’t know for sure, but I’d be extremely surprised if the casualty rate for F-102 pilots flying over Texas was even remotely close to that of soldiers on the ground in Vietnam.

  28. Republicans like Thompson because they hate their other candidates.

    Odd, he was the “I wish” name I heard the most from Republicans for quite some time before the current mob made hints of running.

    Granted, all I have is what people I know have told me and passing mentions on television/radio for about 2 years now. Where are you getting that someone else is higher on the wish list?

  29. crimethink,

    The casualty rate for any group of pilots is lower than for infantry soldiers.

  30. Fred Thompson is nothing like Wesley Clark. Fred Thompson loves his country.

    http://www.fredthompsonnews.com

  31. Oh, look, another Republican chickenhawk spitting on a veteran.

    Must be campaign season again.

  32. Typical liberal comeback, turn poor little Wesely into a victim.

  33. FDT is only good if scripted with a producer and camerman like when he was on YouTube attacking Michael Moore. He doesn’t want to campaign or be part of the debates because then people would see him for what he is — the GOP Senator who got steamrolled by Glenn on China and is spineless. The man won’t even allow the press to ask questions after he speaks and eyewitness accounts have him rambling and mumbling in his speeches live. No wonder after underwhelming speeches he wants to campaign on the Internet.

    He is another flip flopper and was for CFR before he was against it. He was for Bush before he said Bush has the “B” team on Iraq. He was pro-choice before Frist had him become pro-life to run for a full term when he replaced Sen Gore for two years.

    By all accounts he was lazy in the Senate and Clarke will never be considered lazy. His campaigns in TN were the good ole boy type campaigns in the pickup truck. That is not going to play in a lot of US.

    Affront to Clark to compare FDT to him.

  34. Wow Eddie, you are a great mind reader!

    FDT is only good if scripted with a producer and camerman like when he was on YouTube attacking Michael Moore.

    Is that what he was doing at the Watergate hearings too? I have heard that Senate hearings are just a big stage show, but never took that literally.

  35. Fred Thompson is a war loving ignorant racist. He is 100 times worse than Bush could ever be. If he is voted in as president, this world will be worse than it is now. Southern Baptist? Enought said.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.