Friday, September 7, 2007

WHAT ABOUT FRED?

The latest entrant in the quest for the Republican Presidential nomination, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, began his campaign today here in Iowa. It was also revealed today that his given name is actually “Freddie”. He spoke in Des Moines and Council Bluffs before relatively small, seemingly bored, unimpressed crowds of Iowans, predominately retired farmers with their spouses and others who had nothing better to do. If this was the premiere of Freddie’s stump speech he had better hire some new speech writers. Laden with clich├ęs and platitudes, the part time movie and TV actor gave a less than enthusiastic, lackluster performance.

With so many Republicans having very high hopes for Fred’s candidacy, perhaps all should exercise caution before anointing him. After all, what exactly do we really know about Mr. Thompson? His resume, politically, is basically grossly unremarkable. During his years in the Senate he did not distinguish himself in any way legislatively, on committee assignments or otherwise. He left the Senate to resume his on-again, off-again acting career. What does this say about him? Maybe it says nothing but it may be symptomatic of a restlessness, lack of motivation, short attention span or a host of other maladies or quirks that are not desirable in a man seeking our nation’s highest office. Even in his youth, after acting as Senate Republican Counsel during the impeachment proceedings of Richard Nixon, when he could have capitalized on his exposure and visibility, he chose instead to leave Washington, politics, and government to follow other pursuits. Indeed, we have had a Washington D.C. for far too long populated by career politicians, men and women who have never held a real job in their lives. Mr. Thompson’s pseudo-outsider status may be an asset. His previous disengagement's from politics could possibly represent a lack of passion and it has long been widely acknowledged that Presidential candidates must be possessed by a feverish passion for that which they seek. One cannot even campaign effectively absent a burning desire, a real, visceral taste for the game.

In Des Moines today, Fred mentioned that his “preseason” is over and he is ready to get on with his campaign. That may be so but was not very well received by the Iowans present. After all he had not spent the last few months criss crossing the state, eating pork tenderloins and corn dogs, speaking in stifling church basements and Moose lodges. He was not a participant in the Iowa Straw Poll last month which, while absolutely meaningless, still holds weight with local party members - those most likely to brave a frigid January night to caucus. Yes, Fred has his work cut out for him. Will he be able to raise money and assemble a viable organization sufficiently sophisticated and effective to operate in this condensed primary season? Time will tell and it will tell shortly. If he approaches this race, handles his candidacy as just another “role”, he might initially find some traction among our TV drama saturated populace but he must begin to express his ideas and opinions regarding the real issues, challenges and complex problems our next President will confront.

Posted by Monk, our political man in Iowa, for The Brooding Cynyx

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