Fred Thompson’s Appeal

Robert McHenry argues that Fred Thompson has so many people clamoring for him to join an already-crowded field precisely because he seems not all that excited by the prospect of running for president. Steve Bainbridge agrees and observes that, “The idea of a guy with a life, who once said that ‘After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood,’ and seemed to actually mean it, makes an attractive change from the rest of the crowd.”

There’s a lot to that, of course. Also, Thompson combines the freshness of Barack Obama, in the sense of being largely unknown on the national stage, and the “straight shooter” quality John McCain seemed to have in 2000. People long for those things. As a campaign gets further along, however, candidates are forced to get more specific and to therefore alienate some people. Everybody likes a guy who “tells it like it is,” so long as they agree with them; otherwise, they’re just blowhards.

I would also note that it wasn’t all that long ago that we had a rising star politician with a macho swagger who was not a lifetime politician and who seemed content enough with his life that losing an election wouldn’t have bothered him all that much. In fact, we elected him president six and a half years ago.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Patrick McGuire says:

    Well written James, I couldn’t have said it better myself (not that that is saying much). The only point I would pick on is that Fred Thompson is already more familiar with the workings of politics in DC than GW was before he became president. I would like to think that GW wasn’t as prepared as he needed to be for the back-stabbing politics that helped drag him down, whereas I think Thompson is already a master of all that.

  2. Triumph says:

    was not a lifetime politician

    Huh? I guess it depends how you define “lifetime.” He was a two-term governor, a House candidate, worked on two presidential campaigns. When he wasn’t working in politics he was exploiting the connections he generated from having been from a political family.

    His Rangers tenure was also pretty explicitly done in anticipation for running for the governorship.

  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    Triumph,

    W may have decided at about the age of 40 to go into politics, but it should be clear that there was a significant part of his life that was not interested in running for office.

    Those with more presidential trivia knowledge than me can probably point to people with less time in politics than W who made it to be president (generals excepted), but I doubt there are many.

  4. Tlaloc says:

    I hope both Thompson and Gore decide to get in the race. And I rather hope both of them get thier respective party nominations.

  5. Mark says:

    I hope both Thompson and Gore decide to get in the race. And I rather hope both of them get thier respective party nominations.

    If that happens, I have 50-1 that Fred wins Tennessee…

  6. All Man says:

    “I would like to think that GW wasn’t as prepared as he needed to be for the back-stabbing politics that helped drag him down, whereas I think Thompson is already a master of all that.”

    Spare me. The only thing that has dragged GWB down is GWB. The day that citizens such as yourself once again grasp reality and start to care more for America than for GWB and the GOP then perhaps you will gain your majority back. GWB was always a study in mediocrity. Without the Bush name he would have been lucky to top out as a successful insurance agent.
    Sorry, I know you would like to think that there was some evil left wing conspiracy that was the catalyst for his fall, but you know the left, they aren’t that organized.

  7. Everybody likes a guy who “tells it like it is,” so long as they agree with them; otherwise, they’re just blowhards.

    That one goes in the quote book.

  8. boaz says:

    Thompson/Hunter
    The ticket to beat Clinton/Obama with.

  9. Triumph says:

    W may have decided at about the age of 40 to go into politics, but it should be clear that there was a significant part of his life that was not interested in running for office.

    It is true that Bush was a drunk and coke-head until he was 40–but I was counting that as an extended adolesence. Although, given Bush’s limited rational capacities I guess his presidency could still be marked by an extended puerility.

  10. carpeicthus says:

    In fact, we elected him president six and a half years ago.

    And look how well that went.