Saturday, June 09, 2007

Fred Thompson: Lights, Camera, Ass-Kicking Time

By Jabulani Leffall
Jun 8, 2007

There are any number of reasons why people love Fred Thompson and why he should win the 2008 Election should he run for President of the United States. But for right now, let’s start with why he is especially unique.

Fred Dalton Thompson is perhaps the best example of what it takes to belong to an exclusive fraternity of people who have been through the revolving door leading from politics to Hollywood and back. But unlike the late-great Jack Valenti, he wasn’t just a lobbyist in a nice suit and unlike Ben Stein, he’s not merely a speechwriter who went on to say “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller,” hock eyedrops and challenge you to win his money on television.

And although Thompson is being compared to the so-called “Great Communicator” Ronald Reagan, you don’t have to dig through old black and white movies or Cold War era revisionist history texts to find him. You can catch him on cable and network TV re-runs probably right up through the election. Lastly, unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, well let’s just say he’s unlike Arnold.

Fred Thomspson has a serious chance to win the hearts of the American people because for more than 30 years, he has lived out his act. He’s actually made a great living playing himself. He’s been a prosecutor in real life and a prosecutor on television’s Law & Order. He’s been a senator on the silver screen -- Born Yesterday – and an actual U.S. Senator from Tennessee. He’s also been a rear admiral, a director of the CIA, a high ranking FBI agent and a White House Chief of Staff but to his credit, anyone can do those jobs.

And to think, he could have just been another cranky attorney telling you to get off his lawn but now he may well be the most complete candidate out there even though he hasn’t “announced” that he’s running. But, really, he left Law & Order on May 30 and has been on the talk show circuit ever since so unless he’s prepping for a roll as a retired actor and senator who almost ran for president, he’s given the public every indication that he’ll hit the campaign trail this summer and autumn.

It all began in 1977 when the story of a Tennessee Parole Board scandal, which Thompson helped expose, later became the subject of a 1983 book, Marie, written by Peter Maas. Roger Donaldson, a director, copped the film rights to the book and in the course of doing research in Nashville, interviewed Thompson among others and was apparently so impressed he asked him to play himself. Since then all he had to do was show up and talk in that heavy southern drawl, a baritone molasses that brings to mind your grandpappy and just screams authority figure. He’s the real deal and also knows how to handle himself on and off camera. Let’s see how he stacks up against front runners from both parties:

Thompson and the Donkeys

Fred Thompson vs. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Thompson has also been a U.S. Senator so Hillary can’t pull the lack of experience card out on him. Given his voting record and the fact that he always stays in character, he edges Hillary out in the sense that he is not a carpetbagger or panderer who bristles up when challenged and backs his way out of previously established positions like Hillary did with the Iraq War. Scandals? Please, Thompson was as co-chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee in its investigation of a little thing called Watergate. But Hillary will dig and she will go there after digging. But in the end the public will find that Thompson’s association with the Garn-St Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982, which in part caused the Savings & Loan crisis in the late 80s is a far cry from what Whitewater eventually unearthed. Hello!

Fred Thompson vs. Barack Obama

A lot of people talk about how articulate and good looking Obama is. They talk about his youthful vigor, his audacity of hope, the courage that will keep him from lighting up a square (cigarette for those not familiar with ghetto talk) when his wife is not looking. He’s lauded as a Kennedy-esque vision in black. The truth of the matter is, that neither the staunch conservatives, nor the former Dixiecrats, nor the patronizing-ass northern white liberals who bought his dinner plates to hear him speak are going to vote for him. Let’s face it, he’s black. Mainstream America says it’s ready and people chant, chant, chant until they close the curtain and go down the list and pick somebody white. Let’s face it, Obama probably won’t be a hit south of Chicago, west of New York and east of California and that’s the area where people actually still vote. He might’ve had a chance with the condescending-ass Hollywood limousine liberals but chances are that guys like Kevin Costner, Alec Baldwin and Bruce Willis are going to say: “I worked with Fred, I like him, he can’t be all that bad considering the other choices. Let’s see Fred Thompson or black dude. Think I’ll go with Freddie boy!”

Fred Thompson vs. John Edwards

This probably presents the biggest challenge for Thompson as he will be going head-to-head with someone who is neither a woman nor a person of color. Edwards is a good ‘ol boy south of the Mason-Dixon line just like Thompson is. You also can’t count out the fact that Thompson’s wife, while not a stripper as MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough intimated, is still hot enough to host E! News Daily and despite her credentials in the Republican party, is too cute to be taken seriously and can’t stand up against a woman who has fought cancer. Hate to put it in such shallow terms but you can’t beat a cancer survivor with a doped-horse, a full-house, three of a kind, first and goal or anything else -- it’s impossible. The only way Thompson pulls this out is to have his people focus on Edwards’ status as a loser. Not only did he lose in the primary to John Kerry, he lost as a vice presidential candidate in the general election and went on to lose cool points getting expensive haircuts and championing efficient energy while living in a energy vaccum of a mansion like the homie Al Gore. In the debates, Thompson can just bring it back to his status everytime Edwards makes an eloquent point. He can even get folksy with it: “C’mon ya’ll are you going to believe Fred ‘Big Daddy from down home’ Thompson or this loser.”

Thompson and the Elephants in the Room

Thompson vs. John McCain

For a longtime the former P.O.W. thing was really working for McCain. Who doesn’t support the troops? They dodge bullets and landmines while we sit on our asses, eat crispy chicken sandwiches and write about people we don’t know behind the sublime but anonymous glow of a computer screen in the middle of the night. Then he decided that supporting the troops also meant supporting the “troop surge” and it’s hard to say that you take no prisoners in the “war on terror” when someone actually took you as a prisoner in the war on “Reds.” Not a good look dawg. And consensus builder, consensus schmilder. The GOP is looking for a bullheaded polarizer with all the ol’ boy “heh, heh, heh” of Bush but just without the George W. part. A true conservative, Thompson fits that mold. McCain, meanwhile, as The State newspaper in South Carolina suggests, suffers from “guilt by association” with Ted Kennedy and Dianne Feinstein on immigration.” Being a white man sandwiched between the “Greatest Generation,” and “Baby Boomers,” Fred Thompson would likely be tough on all brown and black people as well as big on small government and bullish on tax cuts. Sounds like a winner to me. Sorry John, maybe vice president? Probably not.

Thompson vs. Rudolph Giuliani

This is a no-brainer. You can’t invoke 9-11 forever. It’s like Chris Rock once opined, why is this guy a superhero for doing his job, going on television calming people down, assessing the damage and getting out there so that his city could see he gave a flip. And even if you concede that what he did is commendable, it was seven years ago. Here’s another reason: the rule of the WASP illuminati shadow government establishment is one Catholic per bicentennial. We already had JFK. Plus, after he put away all of his brethren from the “old country,” support from the Gotti boys might be out. Besides, this cat can’t leave the Tri-State area and pick up votes. No one cares about him once you get out of the Holland Tunnel. But here’s the key: Old people vote but when they’re not voting, they’re watching procedural dramas. Fred Thompson in a landslide. Because, the old lady from Brooklyn who always pokes her head out the window while you’re trying to serve your crack to dope fiends in peace; the old lady that you wish would pass on or get put in a nursing home so you can take over her rent controlled flat; the old lady who would’ve voted for a fellow Brooklynite – Giuliani - when she went to the library in Crown Heights, is only going to remember the nice man from Law & Order. Because she can’t remember, Giuliani, Thompson, why her son isn’t calling and her drug prescription information.

Thompson vs. Mitt Romney

Okay, so what do we got here? There’s an Actor-Senator, a woman, a black man, a Catholic adulterer, a rich white pretty boy tort lawyer, a Vietnam-War-Hero-turned-Iraq-War-Zero and a Mormon. Chances are that there are many people who might put a woman and possibly but not probably an (clearing throat) African-American before a Mormon at the polls. But if you go in order from last to first on the list at the beginning of this paragraph, the choice is pretty clear for any mainstream American being honest with themselves who wants a candidate who they think or know can win.

Time will tell whether Academy Award Winner Al Gore jumps in to mix it up or if some red herring, planned terrorist threat or Osama Bin Laden mixtape hitting the streets will shake things up. However, given American culture’s obsession with actors and the propensity for those actors to make the smooth transition in politics, Mr. Thompson might have his hand on a Bible on the steps of some white building come January 2009 and it won’t be because he was so remarkable. It will be because Americans for all their hypocrisy political correctness and fickle consumer nature are the truest when they get in that booth and no one can hold them accountable for their natural fears and prejudices as well as affinities and preferences. Did you hear that? I think that was the Law & Order bell. And……scene… cut…print.

Why Are They Famous is a biweekly analysis of celebrities and other figures in the public eye.

Copyright © 1998-2006
View this story online and more

No comments: