July 9, 2007

The Inexplicable Charisma of Fred Thompson

Let's be honest: the field of Republican candidates for president is pretty pathetic.

Rudy Giuliani is a one-note wonder, doing his best to stoke the fires of paranoia by screaming "9/11" at the drop of a hat and under any circumstance, no matter how inappropriate. The media hasn't even really started to dig into his embarrassing personal life or the low opinion in which he is held by most New Yorkers, but his fear-mongering - of which the country has justifiably gotten sick under the Bush regime - is overpowering, and worse, dated.

The cognitive dissonance embodied in John McCain's spiraling campaign, meanwhile, is awful to behold. He squandered the straight-talking, maverick image he carefully cultivated after being tagged as one of the Keating Five, and hitched his wagon to the wrong horse, toadying for President Bush when W was at his zenith and irreversibly associating himself with both the Iraq War and the man who is likely to go down as the worst president in history. Worse, with the memories of what Bush did to him in the 2000 election in the back of his mind, he couldn't pull it off without looking like he was trying desperately to choke down a bucketful of foulness and evil. He knows he sold his soul at a tragic discount, but while it's possible to be sympathetic towards him on some level, that doesn't make him any less worthy of derision.

Mitt Romney, however, seems to have no such compunctions, but even if he somehow manages to get past the theocratic elements of the GOP base that can't stomach his Mormonism, he remains a pandering, serial flip-flopper apparently willing to do or say just about anything to be president, and people can tell that about him. He is lucky not to have dislocated something during all of the gymnastically-challenging policy reversals that have been his hallmark in recent months, and frankly, his posturing is nothing short of embarrassing.

Ron Paul, a former Libertarian, has sparked some interest because he has spoken truth to power during the early Republican debates, but the likelihood of his successful candidacy is slim to the point where people like George Stephanopoulos feel comfortable slapping him around in public.

The rest of the GOP field is a freakshow. Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee are jostling for the title of Best Man to Lead America into the 14th Century; Duncan Hunter - if he can remain unindicted - and Tom Tancredo are working hard to appeal to Pat Buchanan voters, and appear to be trying to out-bigot each other; and no one outside of Virginia has any idea who Jim Gilmore is, although that might actually end up working in his favor.

So it's not really all that surprising, when one considers the alternatives, that Republicans are yearning for a candidate who can take them back to the Golden Age of Ronald Reagan; a blunt, charismatic leader of unquestionable masculinity who can somehow turn the image of America that George Bush has reduced to rubble back into something shiny that will make them feel good, preferably without any painful self-examination. The question is, however, why they think that man is Fred Thompson, a member of the hated "Hollywood Elite," a womanizer, and apparently, a former lobbyist for abortion rights who worked to aid Richard Nixon during the Watergate investigation, but whom Tricky Dick regarded as "friendly" and "cooperative," although "not very smart."

Not exactly a dream candidate, as Berke Breathed's Opus reminds us, but standards have obviously fallen...
[Click on the cartoon to go to the original image, and click here to visit the Opus archive.]

1 comment:

Elwar said...

This Fred Thompson guy is great. It's like a taller, more well spoken version of George Bush.

What's even better is he's an actor. Just like Ronald Reagan...so he must be the same as Ronald Reagan. But fortunately we don't have to put up with the ideals of Reagan with Fred Thompson.