Animadversions.

The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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Fred Thompson scares me.

May 30th, 2007 · No Comments · Politics

It’s looking like Fred Thompson is going to enter the GOP fray over the July 4th holiday. Thompson is a formidable candidate, especially compared to the bumbling, awkward efforts of the existing GOP campaigns thus far. He’s got legit conservative chops, he’s good on the stick and - probably most importantly - he’s been out of the public eye as the Iraq War has spiralled out of control. But that’s not what people seem to be excited about.

People keep saying he’s “Reaganesque,” which strikes me as odd and mostly incorrect. Yes, he’s an actor. And he’s conservative. And he’s… uh… a dude.

Beyond that, however, I don’t see much Reagan in him at all. I think conservatives, having sat through seven-plus years of Daily Show jokes about how Their Guy is one notch above being a full-blown water-brain, are secretly looking for someone who isn’t embarrassing to send out in public. Reagan was great in front of cameras, during speeches and in debates. Even when he was saying positively crazy shit, he did it in a way that made people believe him (and that made those who DIDN’T believe him feel silly if they bothered to speak up).

Bush has (or had) swagger and what was referred to as gravitas in 2000. Especially against a spreadsheet jockey like Gore, his brand of “hehe… screw you buddy” campaigning was fairly effective. Back when we were mostly worried about coping with the fall-out from the collapse of 1800InflatablePetHats.com and the like, it seemed like a decent enough idea to vote for a guy who came across as “someone you’d like to have a beer with.” I mean, did we REALLY want eight years of Al Gore dryly lecturing us about how we needed to use less gas and find a way to provide health care to poor people we were NEVER EVEN GOING TO MEET?

In 2000, Bush was exactly what the GOP needed. A giggling, alpha-jock frat boy to beat up on any nerds that tried to mess with The Plan. Congress would do the heavy lifting and Bush would keep everyone entertained. But when faced with real problems, Bush lost most of that bravado. People no longer found his flippancy endearing because they viewed him - at best - as incompetent. Suddenly, the eyes of an angry public were on Congress and it wasn’t long before the knives came out and the entire GOP Machine went sideways on them.

Licking their wounds and (one imagines) grumbling about Bush’s manifold deficiencies as a front-man, the GOP desperately wants a guy with gravitas AND the ability to pronounce the word “nuclear” in a pinch.

And Fred Thompson looks like that guy.

He has Bush’s “fuck you” attitude and he has the ability to present it in ways that are positively withering to his opponents. He toes the company line on all of the big issues (pro-life, pro-gun, pro-tax cuts, anti-immigrant, etc.) and even when it comes to some of the… dodgier hot-buttons, he’s able to support the party’s weird stance without looking bad.

How?

By openly mocking anyone “dumb” enough to disagree:

Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto.

NASA says the Martian South Pole’s “ice cap” has been shrinking for three summers in a row. Maybe Mars got its fever from earth. If so, I guess Jupiter’s caught the same cold, because it’s warming up too, like Pluto.

This has led some people, not necessarily scientists, to wonder if Mars and Jupiter, non-signatories to the Kyoto Treaty, are actually inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their air conditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to recycle.

Silly, I know, but I wonder what all those planets, dwarf planets and moons in our solar system have in common. Hmmmm. Solar system. Hmmmm. Solar? I wonder. Nah, I guess we shouldn’t even be talking about this. The science is absolutely decided. There’s a consensus.

Ask Galileo.

That’s pretty obviously a shot across Al Gore’s bow. Imagine some time early next year, a hypothetical Gore vs. Thompson debate. Al - slimmed down and strutting as much as he’s able - starts in with his detailed presentation of global warming concerns. Thompson smirks silently behind his podium, chomping on an unlit cigar. Gore wraps up and smiles. The audience breaks into applause as the moderator tries to silence them. Thompson pauses a moment, slowly removes the cigar from his mouth, leans toward his microphone and sneers at Gore:

“Well, poindexter, that’s sure a lot of mumbo-jumbo you’ve got there.”

He turns to the crowd and continues.

“I don’t know about YOU, but it sure didn’t feel like the earth was warming when I was out moose-hunting in 18 inches of snow last weekend.”

Thompson cocks an eyebrow and shoots the crowd a knowing smile.

“But I GUESS you could worry about a little warming… assuming you ingnore MARTIAN WARMING in the process.”

Thompson rolls into his spiel about alien SUVs and how Pluto is warming up. At the end, he pops his cigar back in his mouth and shoots a perfect, shit-eating grin at Gore.

Later that night, Al Gore locks himself in his office - dejected and mystified by how Thompson’s bullying managed to overwhelm his carefully-crafted Power Point presentation. Depressed, he cautiously opens his desk drawer and stares into it for a moment. He’s sunk and he knows it. It’s 2000 all over again. He might as well just get this over with. He reaches into the drawer slowly and removes a box containing a dozen glazed Krispy Kreme donuts. In the darkened office, all you can hear are the crinkling of the donut box and Al Gore’s muffled sobbing.

And somewhere else, Fred Thompson gives a nerd a wedgie and laughs.

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