Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"...a style more John Wayne than Jimmy Cagney."

Michelle Cottle, at the venerable and liberal New Republic, is not entirely satisfied that Fred Thompson is up to the challenge of running for President. The article contains much information about Thompson's background and prospects from a source not predisposed to wish him success. His laid-back image is viewed negatively by some, but those who support him (like me) view it very favorably:
Looking back over the sweep of Thompson's life, you get the picture of a nice, decent guy fortunate enough to have had a string of helping hands propel him along the road to success. "Fred's charmed," says Ingram. "I mean, from Lawrence County, which was [back then] a Democratic stronghold, to his relationship with Howard Baker, to representing Marie, to finding himself playing himself in her movie, to asking the pivotal Watergate question about the tapes ..." Here, Ingram pauses and backtracks a bit to assure me: "He's very serious. He's very thorough. But he's also been at the right place at the right time with charmed results." Far from undercutting his presidential prospects, this laid-back reputation fuels the seductive story line of Thompson as a Natural Born Leader - a man who excels because of his intrinsic worthiness, not any grinding ambition. "It's part of his appeal," says Tennessee Representative John Duncan, co-chair of the "Draft Fred" committee. "I don't think people like people totally obsessed with politics." "He gives the impression of a man who has things in perspective," agrees Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's lobbying shop. "It's been my impression that workaholics don't work out in the White House." ....
Update: 7/19 - Ed Morrissey didn't like the New Republic article at all. He takes more offense at its portrayal of conservatives than what it says about Thompson. He's right about that, but, considering the source, its treatment of Thompson wasn't bad. An excerpt from his post:
Cottle writes somewhat derisively about how his first wife had to help him mature, which shouldn't be much of a shock, since they got married at 17 - and having a son and daughter-in-law go through a similar situation, it's not surprising that getting married and having babies matures someone. What should be considered is the fact that Thompson went through college and law school while doing so, which isn't easy now and was tougher back then.

The article basically consists of one unsupported hypothesis after another. She accuses Stephen Hayes of having a "particularly intense man crush" on Fred because he wrote this: ""As we spoke, I was struck by the fact that Thompson didn't seem to be calibrating his answers for a presidential run. On issue after contentious issue, I got the sense from both his manner and the answer he gave me that he was just speaking extemporaneously." Cottle also reveals a certain lack of humor when discussing an Internet post that joked, "If Fred Thompson had been at Thermopylae, the movie would have been called 1." Had Cottle had a sense of humor, she would have realized that the joke pokes fun at the sweeping enthusiasm surrounding Fred.
The masculine mystique of Fred Thompson

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