Friday, April 20, 2007


Fred Thompson, the wild card candidate for the GOP Presidential nomination, has a great column in the National Review today concerning the Virginia Tech Massacre and wrongheaded policies that create "Gun-free Zones." While reading this, it occurred to me why Thompson has led many on the political Right to swoon over him. It comes down to a simple use of the language.

So Virginians asked their legislators to change the university's "concealed carry" policy to exempt people 21 years of age or older who have passed background checks and taken training classes. The university, however, lobbied against that bill, and a top administrator subsequently praised the legislature for blocking the measure.

The logic behind this attitude baffles me, but I suspect it has to do with a basic difference in worldviews. Some people think that power should exist only at the top, and everybody else should rely on "the authorities" for protection.

Look at that sentence in bold: "The logic behind this attitude baffles me." I guarantee you that 99 out of 100 politicians would have worded that sentence as "The logic behind this attitude is baffling." By added the personal pronoun "me" Thompson reminds us all that he is in fact a human being that has beliefs, morals, ethics, etc. He's not just made up of a bunch of focus-group created bullet points but in fact has a view of his own. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, with Fred Thompson, there is a there there.

You may see this as a stretch, but it's the little things in communication that mean a lot. A simple thing like using "I" and "me" statements instead of disingenuous "we" and "Americans" shows a human side to a man trying to succeed in a political world where they are very few real men left. Deep psychological stuff, I know, but it's my take and I stand by it, and I will accept history's verdict.

RELIAPUNDIT ADDS: Rhetoric is extremely important. It's one reason Governors get elected more than Senator. Governors - who must be clear and decisive in their jobs - tend to speak plainly; Senators - who are merely members of an elitist debating club - tend to orate.

And it is rhetoric that got Lincoln nominated and elected - specifically the COOPER UNION SPEECH.

Fred has the ability, perhaps, to do the same as Abe did. Lincoln was a former one-term Congressman who has recently Been defeated in a Senate race (though he won the popular vote). In that race, and in the years since, Lincoln proved himself an invaluable speaker on behalf of the Republican party - mostly in what was then called the West.

The Cooper Union speech made Lincoln famous in NY and led to appearances on behalf of state races in the east. These appearances made a huge difference for the GOP, and gave Lincoln national credibility. (MORE HERE.)

Fred is as homely as Lincoln was, and as warm and as folksy. And he's a sharp-minded lawyer, too. But - without a resume which radiates GRAVITAS (like Rudy, and even McCain) - he needs stage and a moment to really pound out a winning speech - AS REAGAN DID FOR GOLDWATER. Reagan's A TIME FOR CHOOSING speech (in 1964) made him the leader of the conservative movement.

The setting and the message of the Thompson announcement has to be BIG: Perhaps he should do it at West Point; or perhaps to our troops in Baghdad. Or even... at Cooper Union.

And it has to be a speech about leading a MOVEMENT and the GOP, and not just running for office.

Without a COOPER UNION moment, Fred is just another homely face - more real than his fellow lawyers pretty-boy Edwards and the loquacious Obama and the shrill Hillary - and even more real that the lawyer/MBA Mitt - combined. But still, just another lawyer/politician wannabe. And like Edwards, Obama and Hillary, one who lacks any executive experience.

I think he has the ability to pull it off. We'll see if he can. Time will tell.

1 comment:

Pastorius said...

I'm rooting for Fred Thompson. My senses tell me he is the only electable GOP candidate. And, from what I know of him, I love the guy.

He's wrong on Global Warming though.