[Cross-posted] Fred Thompson announced his candidacy for President of the United States, on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show a few nights ago.
A great analysis appears in the Murdoch Press, where the conclusion is that the former senator from Tennessee stands a good chance, not because of his political views (closer to those of Sen. John McCain than his other opponents), but because he is a celebrity who looks the part.
The Tonight Show audience in Los Angeles was delighted with Mr Thompson’s announcement, though it was noticeably silent when the Iraq war was discussed.
Applause returned when Thompson noted that the United States had spilled a lot of blood for other nations’ freedom, an idea that still has resonance in that nation.
This shows the division that must come in the US: a country known for defending and promoting freedom, yet tired of sacriﬁcing its own in a war that its own President warned would be a lengthy, tiresome ﬁght when he was campaigning in 2004. Yet Americans do have their pride in their history and what they stand for. And rightly so.
For those torn between a pro-war and an anti-war position, which the one Tonight Show audience seemed to demonstrate, Thompson may offer a third way. Toward the end of his interview, he hinted that the War on Terror, under him, would have more allies: he would try to unite all the good guys against the bad guys. France was a powerful example, as Thompson cited how Nicolas Sárközy, before his win in the Presidential Election there, came to the US to meet President Bush. He returned to France saying that he would be more pro-American. The French elected him.
Sárközy’s win wasn’t anywhere near that simplistic, but in the age of sound bites and people getting their news from late-night talk shows, it was a skilful move. In Thompson-speak, it means: let me get other countries involved so we don’t have to sacriﬁce as many of our boys and girls.
It is a tricky third position to be in, but it may appeal to some voters who feel that the pull-out position of Sens. Clinton and Obama is unpatriotic at worst or risky at best. There is always a difﬁcult ‘What if?’ that comes from any withdrawal, especially given that the US still holds the peace together in Korea with its base there, and maintained a lot of troops in West Germany during the Cold War—so why not the Middle East? Those who are internationalists may see a point. It will deﬁnitely appeal to the pro-war brigade.
The staunch members of the anti-war brigade will not welcome Thompson, regardless of a third, intermediate solution.
Nevertheless, this tact highlighted several things about Thompson: he is a gifted actor and once he was a skilled lawyer. (Lawyer-haters might not have a choice this time around: Clinton, Obama, Romney, Edwards and Giuliani all have practised law.) He has an image that has been fuelled by his Hollywood appearances. A southern accent makes one look down-home—and his choice of URL, fred08.com, also looks very personal. He knows how to use his words, and to use them well. All these ingredients make him a powerful opponent to the Democrats.
Posted by Jack Yan, 12:07
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