-By Melanie Morgan
Can you see it? Can you feel it? The excitement over Fred Thompson’s potential candidacy for president is capturing the imagination of conservatives across the nation.
The “Run Fred Run” phenomenon is important to talk about not because of Thompson himself, but more because of what it says concerning the mood of this nation and the public’s frustration with a lack of leadership in both the conservative movement and the Republican Party.
The allure of a Thompson for President campaign is even evident among some Reagan Democrats who are weighing in on the blogs – and feeling the heat from their liberal colleagues for even considering the notion of crossing party lines.
Unlike the current crop of declared Republican and Democrat candidates, who have spent years plotting and scheming about how they could win their way to the White House, Fred Thompson is truly being drafted to run by people who are sick of abandoned principles and lack of a moral center.
When moments like this occur, occupants of the political and media establishment seem to shudder with convulsions. It ain’t pretty, but it isn’t surprising.
In the June 13 edition of The Politico, Kenneth P. Vogel writes about the efforts of potential GOP rivals to “deflate” the Thompson campaign before it is even launched.
Vogel’s column in The Politico should be the canary in the coalmine for Republicans. Why? Because it demonstrates the current crop of Republican presidential candidates haven’t figured out that their problem is not Fred Thompson’s potential candidacy. The problem they should be addressing is the failure of the current candidates to connect with the American electorate.
Fred Thompson’s campaign would not even be a blip on the radar screen if not for the fact millions are fretting about our current choices for the White House.
Columbia University journalism professor and Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen has demonstrated the media establishment’s discomfort with the Thompson boomlet as well.
Writing an op-ed piece titled, “We Knew Both, And Thompson Is No Reagan,” Cohen whines about Thompson’s lack of accomplishments while in the U.S. Senate.
If Thompson’s name came up in some sort of free association game, he would be a genuine stumper: Thompson and what? There is no Thompson Act, Thompson Compromise, Thompson Hearing, Thompson Speech or Thompson Anything that comes to mind. No living man can call himself a Thompsonite. … Instead, Thompson came and went from the Senate as if he was never there, leaving only the faint scent of ennui.
What a pity Fred Thompson doesn’t have more to show for his time in the Senate!
Let’s see, what are the members of this current Congress best known for?
John McCain, Ted Kennedy and Jon Kyl are the co-authors of the current amnesty-for-illegal-aliens bill under deliberation. That piece of legislation is a real political winner. The shamnesty bill is killing Sen. McCain’s presidential aspirations, driving down Ted Kennedy’s approval ratings within the Democrat Party, and has ignited a backlash against Sen. Kyl in his home state of Arizona.
Would it please the members of the old-line media if Thompson had made a name for himself authoring such a piece of legislation?
I suspect it would, only because they are too stupid to see what everyone else in America recognizes – no one wants the damn bill.
The other major item under consideration by Congress is the war on terrorism.
Perhaps Richard Cohen and the whiny Washington wonks in the press bureaus would be happier if Fred Thompson were better known for telling our troops in Iraq that they had “lost.” That’s what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has become famous for. Gee, I wonder why Sen. Reid’s approval ratings are now at 19 percent. Hard to figure, huh?
Instead, Fred Thompson has ignited a fury of interest in his potential candidacy because since leaving office he has spoken articulately on the issues of illegal immigration (he wants to stop it) and the war on terrorism (he’s determined to win it).
Thompson’s plainspoken candor and basic conservative principles have led many to see similarities between him and Ronald Reagan.
That comparison irks those who are predisposed not to like Thompson. But there is something insincere about the Thompson-bashing that’s going on.
Consider this assessment offered of Ronald Reagan’s candidacy during his first term:
But in a somewhat larger sense, the president seems to cast no shadow. It is true that he has an economic program and some startling congressional victories to prove it, but Wall Street, not to mention Main Street, has not seemed to notice. There is next to no confidence in the program, no sense, say, that things would be worse if there was no Reagan program. It just does not seem to matter.
If those words used to describe Reagan sound similar to the words being used to critique Fred Thompson, they should.
Both of those passages I’ve cited were written by Richard Cohen in his columns – 25 years apart.
Right now Fred Thompson’s candidacy is like a Rorschach inkblot.
People see what they want to see, and time will tell if Thompson is the kind of conservative leader many of us are hoping for.
But it speaks well of Fred Thompson that the best arguments his critics can come up with are the same tired and hollow complaints they lodged against Ronald Reagan a quarter of a century ago.
Melanie Morgan is chairman of the conservative, pro-troop non-profit organization Move America Forward and is co-host of the “Lee Rodgers & Melanie Morgan Show” on KSFO 560 AM in San Francisco. Morgan is co-author of “American Mourning,” which tells the stories of American heroism in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her personal website is www.MelanieMorgan.com.
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