The idea of Sen. Fred D. Thompson as President sounds like a better movie then reality show, but this proposition has graduated from talk radio to the front page of the Washington Post, while he rises up the Gallop poll.
Given the man-crush that conservative Republicans have on him at the moment, blaring warning bells sound over who he really is when it counts. On the issues, he seems the typical Republican who might accidentally be moderately better on many issues, but very very bad on others.
During the Watergate hearings, Mr. Thompson, in his role as minority counsel to the Watergate investigating committee, appeared as a supporting character in Ayn Rand’s essay “The Principals,”  which analyzed the players in that melodrama. Ominously, he was not then worthy of an essay identifying men of principles; as a prospective President in a time of war, is he today?
Rand’s essay begins with an observation that could be useful in the upcoming campaign season, if only reporters in the media could resist their compulsion to make their own performance the center of the story instead that of the actual actor on the hustings.
Television has a peculiar power to reveal the essence of a man’s character, one learns more from a televised image than from a face-to-face encounter; an act that may work in a drawing room is magnified and stripped away, leaving the man naked. The camera seems to photograph, not men’s faces, but their souls. It is a wonderful invader of psychological privacy, more potent than a lie detector. Most politicians should run from a TV camera, invoking the Fifth Amendment.
While analyzing the dialogues of Jeb Stuart Magruder, deputy creep in the Nixon re-election campaign, Rand identified an unprincipled young man acting on personal peccadilloes instead of substantial clear and present danger within an environment that included domestic terrorist acts by the Left. Senator Ervin’s response to the shallow Magruder echoes in congressional hearings today.
I came up here during Joe McCarthy days when Joe McCarthy saw a communist hiding under every rose bush…and I have been here fighting the no-knock laws and preventive detention laws and indiscriminate bugging by people who’ve found subversives hiding under every bed. In this nation, we have had a very unfortunate fear. And this fear went to the extent of deploring the exercise of personal rights for those who wanted to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances…Now, I think that all grew out of this complement of fear, did it not, the whole Watergate incident?
As Sen. Schumer seems to be cribbing today from Senator Ervin then, perhaps minority counsel Thompson may have something to say on behalf of prospective-President Thompson. Rand actually credits Thompson with being “perceptive” in an effort to rebut Senator Ervin evasion of the actual environment of politically motivated bombings, arsons, and murders; however, he was ultimately ineffective because of his unprincipled fellow Republicans. Rand reports the exchange between Thompson and Magruder, beginning with Thompson’s question.
“Were you concerned about legitimate demonstrations, or were there more serious things going on in the country at that time? Up until that time had there been bombings of public buildings, for example?” In an almost patronizing tone of voice, Magruder answered: “Well I think it goes much deeper than that, not only were there bombings of public buildings, we had death threats against Mr. Mitchell’s life. We had continuous demonstrations in front of our headquarters.” The tone of voice said, in effect: “Public bombings, hell! They threatened us!”
Mr. Thompson tried again, obviously struggling to impart some political stature to a sulking juvenile: “Had there been a series of break-ins of F.B.I. offices, for example?” “Yes, sir, many.” “Was it your opinion at the time there were plans afoot to make some attempt to overthrow the Government by illegal and improper means?” “I would not go so far as to say overthrow the Government,” Magruder answered scornfully, and went on in a tone of disclosing something much more important: “I think we had some concern about them overthrowing our convention as they did with Democratic party convention in 1968.” Mr. Thompson gave up.
At this point, my hypothesis regarding Senator Thompson is that unlike other Republicans he can stay on message, hit his cues, and follow the script. But, who is going to write his script? Is he the political savior that the religious right prays for in this election?
Focus of the Family’s James Dobson has announced that Sen. Thompson must make a public demonstration of his faith, if he expects to receive support from fundamentalists. Sen. Thompson’s rhetorical response on the campaign trail to this public challenge could demonstrate who would be scripting a Thompson presidency.
Given the failings of Bush policies inspired by the political philosophy of Jesus Christ (such as Bush‘s use of the Just War Doctrine), the principle issue in the Republican primary will be the selection of a candidate focused on reality, who acting of principle can end terrorism-sponsoring Iran, and lead the repeal of punitive taxes, spending and regulations that attack individual rights at home. We can no longer dismiss as irrelevant candidate statements that their mind is focused upon and inspired by the non-existent.
 Ayn Rand, “The Principals…,” The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. II, No. 18, Jun. 18, 1973.
Image Source: Cox and Forkum
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