As a registered Republican from the great state of New Jersey, I don't understand why everybody is so excited about Fred Thompson potentially coming out of the closet as a candidate. The great event is supposed to take place after Labor Day, when his exploratory committee's deliberations and weighing of his options are concluded. For the life of me, I am puzzled why the folks are so nuts about Fred.
Okay, he talks better than most of the other candidates. He has a presence on TV, having established a record as an actor on Law & Order.
But if that is a qualification, forget Fred Thompson. I say, Sam Waterston for president.
Seriously, why are we even considering him? Could it be the paucity of the talent we Republicans came up with so far?
The current alleged front-runners are Romney and Giuliani.
Romney, as you know, will say anything to get elected. He has transformed himself so many times he gives new meaning to the word flip-flop. He is the ultimate revolving door candidate.
As if that isn't bad enough, I don't get the concept of a president named Mitt. I can understand a Matt as in Matt Dillon or a Mutt as in Mutt & Jeff. But a Mitt is a catcher's mitt.
Rudy? He is another revolving door, not only on the issues but also in his personal life. One of his achievements is being a guy who can use TV to tell his wife he was going to seek a divorce.
Conventional wisdom is Republican voters are not pleased with what they have seen so far in the dueling revolving doors. They need someone else. And Fred, the movie star, is definitely someone else. I'll give him that.
The man is a revolving door candidate on steroids. He always has two revolving doors spinning at the same time.
Professionally, I never even thought of Thompson as an actor running for president. I thought of him as a Washington political and legal insider. 'Why, I still remember him sitting next to Howard Baker as the Republican counsel on the Irvin Committee in the Watergate hearings," recalled R.B. Bernstein, the historian and constitutional scholar. "In his own memoir, Thompson admitted tipping off the White House that the tapes were about to be released. That was clearly a conflict of interest. What was a minority counsel doing calling Frank Langella, I mean Richard Nixon? Hardly the kind of guy you 'd want to be president."
First, he's a Watergate leaker. Then he's a Tennessee lawyer. Then he's an actor.Then he's a senator. Then he's an actor again. Around and around he goes career wise.
His most recent spin in the revolving door is in the image-making department. He is trying to have it both ways as a serious political figure and a serious actor. No problem in the media, which he has convinced of his "star power."
In playing a role on TV, he has been doing it for the paycheck. I can't believe he has been doing his Law & Order gig just to advance his political career some day. If he is, he is even more Machiavellian than I suspected.
The thing is Thompson isn't a great actor on TV. He is okay as New York City District Attorney Arthur Branch.
He had the classic DA role. He sits in his office. Pours Jack McCoy a drink. He says something sage, something politically perceptive and cynical. Then he gives him a suggestion about what to do. That's what the DA always does, even before Thompson landed the plum assignment in the final months of his U.S. Senate term in 2002
Thompson replaced Diane Weist as the DA. It's still a mystery why. Apparently, the women members of the "Law & Order" constituency at home didn't like her as much as the ever-popular hunk Fred. Weist had replaced Steven Hill who created the role (1990-2000), and somehow incurred the wrath of legendary producer Dick Wolf, much to the chagrin of Law & Order fans such as myself.
I found it hard to take that a New York political figure like the DA would have a heavy Tennessee accent that you could cut with a chainsaw.
Every so often Fred would call in Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston since 1994) and his assistant, and say something like "I've got the mayor on my shoulder. Everybody yelling at me and I have to do some yelling at you."
That could be a clue to how Thompson, who already is being ID'd as "Sen. Movie Star (R-Law & Order)," is going to run the country. Except there is no mayor to sit on Fred's shoulder if he becomes president.
Now I realize the public likes actors in the White House. Witness the astonishing veneration of Ronald Reagan's eight years in office, a period in which some suggest he thought he was acting in a very long running movie. And then there is the current incumbent, who seems to be acting as a stand-in for Dick Cheney.
But Fred Thompson for president? It boggles the mind.
If we want a candidate who is an actor, usually it shouldn't be anyone who has a made a name for himself on a television series. TV actors don't go very far. Commander in Chief, starring Geena Davis, has already been cancelled. It's a long tradition of failure dating back at least until 1987's George C. Scott flop in Mr. President.
The one exception to the rule was Martin Sheen as Pres. Josiah Bartlet in The West Wing who served his country from 1999-2006. I would have voted for him in 2000 and 2004.
I know these are very heavy issues I am debating here. Maybe I'm all wet. Here is a way to find out.
There have been many political polls flying around the airwaves this season. Still to be heard from is the most prestigious of all. Will you welcome please, the Official Famous Kitman Poll (Est. 2007)
Who do you prefer for president (Check one)
....Richard Nixon, (I mean, Frank Langella)
.... None of the above
... All of the above
As we say in my neck of the woods, Hudson County, vote early and vote often.