Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Star Turn By Senator Thompson Could Result In Leading Role In White House

It’s hard to understand America’s love affair with movie stars, but clearly, it’s to the advantage of former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson as he toys with his inevitable entry into the next presidential sweepstakes.

True to form, the national news media – obsessed as usual with the horse race aspects of the campaign – gauge his success by his charisma and his instant name recognition. Mr. Thompson’s undeclared candidacy is the best evidence of how rare “real” reporting has become in the coverage of presidential candidates.

Lost in the coverage about Mr. Thompson is any hint of his track record as a senator or his success as a legislator.

While it would seem that this would be where the rubber meets the road traveled by his now iconic red pickup truck, we’ll read and hear much more about the 1990 Chevy truck than we will hear about the real measure of his years as a U.S. senator – his legislative history.

Listening to present and former local elected officials who dealt with him in those days, there’s admiration for his folksiness and story-telling but few compliments about the effectiveness of his office. To most, his detached view of legislative duties led to a staff that seemed tentative and unfocused.

There was a tendency in those years for his staff to give him the “star treatment,” refusing to take him news that they thought he wouldn’t want to hear. A visit to his office was preceded by a choreography fit for a movie set, and normally, if you could clear the hurdles to get on the calendar, Mr. Thompson would be found smoking a cigar in his rocking chair.

He routinely left policies up to others (in those days, it was usually to the much superior staff in Senator Bill Frist’s office). He was normally more interested in swapping war stories and telling humorous tales about political rivals than discussing the subject that provoked the request for a meeting in the first place.

As a result, his name isn’t attached to any grand legislation or any great reforms, but despite that fact and for what one of his Republican colleagues called his “cavalier attitude” about his duties, he seems destined to be a front runner for the Republican nomination.

Perhaps, in time, the news media will delve beneath the surface on him - and others in both parties. There are great issues to be debated and weighty decisions to be made, and voters deserve to know more about the candidates than vehicles, religious affiliations and the number of times they’ve been married.

But, as long as the focus stays on the political theater of it all, it gives home court advantage to a man so accustomed to being on the stage.


Anonymous said...

I recall that Fred was on the losing end of a 99-1 vote on some Good Samaritan legislation. Fred's lone nay vote was due to the fact that this legislation was beyond the scope of the Senate's responsibilities.

The red pickup is not the root of Fred's appeal. Fred can read and follow the Constitution. He is sensitive to the plight of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. He isn't a gun grabber like Rudy.

You lefties can continue to maintain that Fred is lazy and doesn't have much of a record of accomplishment in the Senate. I happen to like the idea of a lazy legislator. That likely means more income left in my wallet.

Isn't Fred the guy that brought down Gov. Blanton, not to mention President Nixon?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and in the interest of fairness, I suppose you are going to give similar scrutiny to Senator Clinton's record too. Right?

Anonymous said...

I thought the "b-b-but Clinton" defense only worked on Fark. Congrats, 10:40! You're living the cliche!

Anonymous said...

The red pickup and the hokie act will not help him, just like the phony red flannel shirt didn't help Lamar nationally.

After 8 years of a detached, uninvolved, uninformed President, I would think they nation is ready for someone involved, policy oriented, and a thinker.

Smart City Consulting said...

Anonymous: It's always curious the way some folks drag every discussion to the doorstep of one of the Clintons. While we're not a big fan of hers, Senator Clinton isn't our senator, never was, never will be. Fred Thompson was. We saw him in action (or inaction), and at a time when the voters seem to be looking for someone more intellectually curious and energetic, he feels to us like more of the same. That was why we decided to blog about it. We witnessed it firsthand, and the way that his constituents paid for his inability and lack of interest to get anything done.

Anonymous said...

Look, you can swap Sen. Clinton's name with Sen. Barack Hussein Obama if it makes you feel better. I should have anticipated the ad hominem attacks for suggesting that Sen. Fred's record be compared to that of the Democrat frontrunner's Senate record.

Lighten u you socialists! If that nutjob Kucinich was the frontrunner, I would have suggested him instead of Clinton. Dragging "every discussion to the doorstep of one of the Clintons." Geez Louise. She may not be your Senator, but she could be your President!

Regardless, we are at a critical juncture where all of us Memphians should pull together. We need to make sure that the FDT Presidential Library is located at the University of Memphis instead of in Nashville.

Smart City Consulting said...

Could you turn down the volume and the personal attacks? You sure have a lot of opinions about us without even knowing us.

We're talking about Fred Thompson. We're not talking about anybody else. If you can keep on topic, that would be major progress.