(Arianna/Roy: Please file under Politics, Business, Entertainment, Media, and Living Now. You can't be too sure.)
Obviously I'm missing something when it comes to the awesome charisma of Fred Thompson. Some of it is personal; I already have a father, so I didn't need Ronald Reagan. Some of it is professional; I once worked on a talk show that booked too many third-rate guests, and I had to write their padded introductions, so every time I hear Thompson described as "the star" of The Hunt for Red October, my joints cinch.
(Sean Connery is a star. Fred Thompson was in The Hunt for Red October. The way Jacob Javits was a United States Senator, while Fred Thompson was in the Senate.) (Fred Thompson was fifteenth billed on The Hunt For Red October. So he may be the dream candidate now, but if Tim Curry or Joss Ackland get in, he's toast.)
Some of my problem with Fred Thompson is aesthetic. It's those papery little plastic surgery cat scratch wrinkles on his cheeks. The first person I ever noticed them on was Gore Vidal, and I figured he must have had his facelift sometime around when Aaron Burr died, so he had an excuse. The science was in its infancy. But Fred Thompson is only 64. And his facelift looks like it cost less than John Edwards' haircut. What kind of message does that send?
Then there's the creepy fact that he was a lobbyist for General Electric before he got the high profile exposure on NBC's Law & Order. No, I don't really think there's a conspiracy here, but where there's smoke, there's Rosie O'Donnell, and there's no way America deserves eight more years of that.
(And when I say he was on Law & Order, of course I mean he was the star of Law & Order. The way Commissioner Gordon was the star of Batman.)
(Is that guy still alive? Does he want to be president?)
Also, Fred Thompson wears a big ring. And there's something about non-wedding jewelry on an ugly bald guy. Telly Savalas could kind of get away with it, but he is dead.
So what is the key to Fred Thompson? What makes him too sexy for his shirt? So sexy it hurts? Luckily, I don't have to wonder anymore. The National Review's Jonah Goldberg has figured it out.
Hold on to your accessories. Here it is, straight from today's column:
"First and foremost, Thompson's articulateness can't be underestimated. He shares with Ronald Reagan -- another actor-politician -- an ability to communicate ideas in folksy, almost conversational ways without losing important nuance or meaning... And the more he talks, the more likable and presidential he appears."
Focused -- like a laser -- on the obvious, Jonah Goldberg has taken what goes without saying, and made it his own.
And while it's nice to hear a white politician called "articulate," one is left with the question that always lingers after one reads Jonah Goldberg: You bothered to type that?
But maybe it really is that simple. The thing that makes Fred Thompson stand apart from the other fifteen or twenty Republican candidates is that he can speak. And not only speak, but communicate meaning when doing so.
If it's true, there's your bumper sticker right there. Fred Thompson: A Different Kind of Republican. His Thoughts Come Out.
Or: Fred Thompson: At Least as Smart as Koko the Gorilla.
Back on May 14th, Fred Thompson was both speaking and communicating to the Council for National Policy, and he said:
"I'm reminded of something my Daddy used to say: A man who walks around smiling all the time can't possibly know what's going on."
(Yes, he's a 64-year-old man who still calls his father "Daddy." It's a Southern thing. Like killing JonBenet Ramsey. You wouldn't understand. Just let it go.)
If the folk wisdom itself feels familiar, it's because you may have seen it written like this:
"Der Lachende hat die furchtbare Nachricht nur noch nicht empfangen."
So, see? There actually is more to Fred Thompson than meets the eye.
His father was Bertolt Brecht.
Snotty liberals dismiss Jonah Goldberg but worship Richard Pryor, who was also born in a whorehouse. Is this a double standard?
Everyone in porn, rodeo and the soaps is "a star." Why is that?