Why Fred Thompson?

Kevin Drum notes the whiff of desperation around the possibility of a Fred Thompson run for President.

This is a perfectly good question, though one to which I have only conventional wisdom to offer. Basically it’s this: Thompson is a guy whose political record in the Senate was a big zero; whose only real claim to fame is being a character actor on TV and in films; who has done nothing to distinguish himself this year except deliver a few vaguely Reaganesque pastiches in a nice baritone; who is apparently not Christian enough for James Dobson’s taste; who has no known issues that he really cares deeply about; and whose most famous quality is his laziness.

That sure doesn’t sound like the resume of a guy who’s going to rescue the Republican Party to me. The fact that so many people are talking him up seems like it says more about the suicidally desperate state of the GOP than it does about the actual presidential prospects of Fred Thompson.

I’m forced to agree with Drum here. Although, to be fair, the Democratic front-runners aren’t exactly that inspiring, either. Both Clinton and Obama have rather thin resumes for someone aspiring to the Office of the Presidency, as well–no significant executive or managerial experience, no significant diplomatic experience, no significant foreign policy experience. Indeed, Barack Obama–although an unquestionably intelligent and capable person–has gone as far as he has largely on his eloquent speaking voice, his natural gravitas, and relative good looks (for a politician). In other words, pretty much the same qualities as Fred Thompson.

Let’s face it: as Dr. Emmett Brown eloquently put it, “The President has to look good on television.” For a lot of people, merely looking and sounding the part of President goes a long way towards actually being a good President. In a world where qualifications and experience mattered more, we’d all be discussing the Bill Richardson vs. Tommy Thompson matchup.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, The Presidency, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.


  1. Bithead says:

    I seem to recall being told that nomination of Reagan was a ‘desperate move’, too.

  2. Patrick McGuire says:

    It has nothing to do with his resume. It has everything do to with his quality as an individual. He answers direct questions with a straight answer (no hesitation, no talking points, no political speeches), he isn’t afraid of confrontation, and he has little or no tolerance for stupidity.

    My kind of man!

  3. carpeicthus says:

    The answer seems pretty easy to me — he’s actually conservative. Kind of a hole there waiting to be filled in the primaries.

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    The answer seems pretty easy to me — he’s actually conservative.

    Not according to his voting record, he isn’t.

  5. Tlaloc says:

    I was actually the one who wrote to Mr. Drum asking him to explain his comment, and I have to say I don’t buy his reasoning. Pretty much everything he said about Thompson can be equally said of Reagan and we all know how the right deifies him.