Thursday, May 31, 2007

By Zeus, he's running!

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Fred Thompson, that is. So says The Politico. And The Weekly Standard. And The Washington Post, which is reporting that this second coming of Ronald Reagan (or so his delusional admirers imagine him to be -- but, then, most admirers of Reagan are delusional, too) "will offer himself as a down-home antidote to Washington politics in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, running a campaign out of Nashville while promising leadership on a conservative agenda that will appeal to his party's base".

Can you feel the excitement? It's palpable. (Oh, wait, sorry. I was just sitting on a thumbtack.)

Well, the right is excited. How could it not be, what with Giuliani, McCain, and Romney running 1-2-3 in the polls, three rather undesirably candidates for GOP loyalists? See Ed Morrissey, for example, whose enthusiasm is at least admirably restrained.

Many others have responded to the news, too -- see Memeorandum -- but let me single out, as I often do, my friend Melissa McEwan, who put it so well: "While some might say that the GOP’s palpable desperation for an heir to Reagan’s throne became completely pathetic once they fixed their sights on another actor, I would argue that it’s always been completely pathetic, but now has simply just been taken to a riotous level of literalism." (Her post is hilarious, by the way.)

It's all a big fantasy, see, but it makes sense given that Republicans have made fantasyland their own. Thompson (Fred, not Tommy) is perhaps more likeable than any of the other GOP hopefuls, as Melissa suggests, but that's not saying much at all. What's all so laughable about this is that Republicans seem to be confusing the actor with the character (on Law & Order, if not in The Hunt for Red October and Die Hard 2). But who better to lead a party that lives in fantasyland than an actor?

I don't have much to add to what I've already said about Freddy T. in many, many previous posts -- see them all here, or go directly to these: The Fred Thompson romance, Politics and entertainment: The fact and fiction of Fred Thompson, Imaginary politics, and Too much like McCain? Suffice it to say that although he's been making an Oscar-caliber effort (at least by the rather low standards of Republican actors) to portray himself (as any actor might) as a Reagan conservative who is both social conservative and authoritarian warmonger -- that is, who is very much in line with the party base -- the record (i.e., the truth) is rather more nuanced than the performance would have the delusional gaping-mouthers on the right believe (because they oh-so want to believe, because they oh-so need to believe).

Fred Thompson may be sincere in his desire to seek the presidency, but nothing smacks of Republican desperation quite like the excitement his presumptive candidacy has generated.

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