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Fred: A political requiem


Fred Thompson

As you know, Fred Thompson gracefully bowed out of the race for the Republican nomination last week. It’s rare to see a politician who realizes when a plan hasn’t come together. Usually politicians desperately cling to false hope, like Wile E. Coyote forever convinced that the next package from ACME is going to contain the ingredients necessary to finally catch the roadrunner.

I’m actually happy for Fred Thompson, and I’ll get into why in a minute, but first – what happened to Fred’s campaign?

Back in September of last year, there was so much buzz surrounding Fred Thompson’s announcement that he would seek the presidency of the United States. I, for one, was filled with as much excitement and anticipation as a door-to-door Pantene salesman walking up to John Edwards’ house.

For one who was tired and borderline nauseated by this particular race for the Oval Office that seemingly started during Bush’s first term – and by that I mean George H.W. Bush – Fred Thompson not jumping quickly into the fray was a breath of fresh air.

This race for the presidency has officially crossed the line where the campaign is longer than the term in the office that is being sought. It’s so bad that even the producers of Super Bowl pre-game shows are calling it overkill.

When the whisperings of a possible Thompson candidacy began, I believed Fred was deserving of our serious attention, at the very least for having the good manners to not want to spend any more time than absolutely necessary exposing us to another political campaign. Brevity is not only the soul of wit, but it’s also a trait that tends to be found among the honest, as they don’t need all the extra time to keep changing their position.

Once Thompson declared his candidacy, I was taken by his belief in “common sense arithmetic,” in which 2 + 2 = 4. I thought that would be a nice change of pace in Washington, D.C., where all too often 2 + 2 = 1,637.

But, in spite of all the giddy buildup, it was over virtually before it started – thereby rendering the Thompson campaign less like a real run for office and more like sex on prom night.


For a few brief moments, after I heard that Fred Thompson was dropping out of the race for the GOP nomination, I must admit that I was a little depressed. I couldn’t help but be reminded of lines from “Die Hard II,” a movie in which Thompson appeared:

“McClane, is this what you expected?”

“No,” responded McClane, convincingly portrayed in this version by Fred Thompson’s disappointed backers.

The only Republican candidate who once seemed viable, and who had a demonstrable record of political conservatism stretching back more than just a decade, was falling off the map.

But then I figured, good for Fred! After all, I like Fred, and nobody wants to see somebody they like pass through the sausage grinder that is the presidential election process. How much can you really like somebody if you want them to put themselves through that?

I suppose that’s why we almost always end up voting not for the candidate we like the most, but for the one we dislike the least. Liking somebody and wanting them to run for president is a paradox that Fred Thompson didn’t force us to confront for long.

The failure of the Thompson campaign to fully catch on has been blamed on many things: that he was lazy, disorganized, only half-heartedly competing and didn’t want to use any of his own money. If the axiom “we like a politician who is most like ourselves” were true, it seems that Hillary’s “want-something-for-nothing” voters would have flipped and turned out for Fred in droves.

Now we’re stuck with watching the Democrats try to strip their fake “first black president,” Bill Clinton, of that title for trying to derail who would be an actual “first black president,” and a current leading Republican who spent most of his career in Washington doing smoochie-smoochie with so many misguided liberals that he should be offered a job working the kissing booth at Columbia University’s “Put Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Mt. Rushmore” fundraiser.

Maybe Fred was just too good for all this.

Good luck in the future, Fred. The closest you’ll get to the Oval Office now might be in your next movie. Too bad we can’t say the same for some of the other candidates.