Monday, May 07, 2007

Too much like McCain?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Dickerson thinks the winner of last week's first GOP presidential debate was the celebrity non-candidate who wasn't there: Fred Thompson. And I tend to agree. It was "a tale of 10 losers," as our Edward Copeland put it, with none of the candidates -- even the frontrunners, Giuliani and McCain -- standing out above the others, or, rather, standing out so far above as to put all doubt to rest and to warrant some legitimate hype. (A new poll indicates that the top three Democrats (Clinton, Obama, Edwards) would beat the top three Republicans (Giuliani, McCain, Romney) in any head-to-head match-up.)

And so the doubt remains -- along with the discontent.

Giuliani may be sufficiently authoritarian, but he's also a liberal, or at least a libertarian, or at least not a theocrat. McCain has sufficient seniority and experience, but conservatives don't like him or trust him, he's too liberal, and everything seems to be slipping away from the former frontrunner, which could explain his somewhat un-presidential bearing, his "nerves". (As Dickerson remarked: "McCain answered his first questions with such gusto that he appeared to be plugged into a car battery hidden somewhere on his person.") Romney looks the part, but he has too liberal a past, is a Mormon (which may or may not be a problem, they're not sure), and may be "too perfect and too calculating". And the rest? Well, who cares?

In evaluating the current Republican love-in with Thompson (Fred, if not Tommy), Dickerson has pointed to the Hollywood star's "past McCain habit": "[He] co-chaired McCain's 2000 presidential campaign and was his ally when the two served in the Senate". (Oops.) He also co-sponsored McCain-Feingold. (Double oops.) And now WaPo has picked up on the Thompson-is-like-McCain meme. Thompson -- whether the real person or the character he plays on Law & Order, District Attorney Arthur Branch, it's not at all clear -- is "a real Reagan-type conservative" (Dick Armey's words), and that's what Republicans seem to want -- there isn't one among the ten losers, it seems.

But -- dreams be shattered -- McCain "was far and away his best friend in the Senate," according to a former aide. Thompson may be stressing his conservative bona fides, but looking at his record and his political temperament he seems to be an awful lot like McCain. (Poor McCain. If only he'd quit the Senate in 2000 and signed on to do CSI: Phoenix or something. As the GTL remarks, Republicans "bash and bash Hollywood again and again" even as they "turn to that very same town, time after time, to find their leaders for the highest offices in the land".)

Go read Dickerson and the WaPo piece for more on the McCain-Thompson connection. And go see Ed Morrissey, who attempts to disconnect the two: "Fred and John are quite different -- and the GOP base understands that". (Okay, fine, but I'm not convinced.)

And -- if you just can't get enough of him -- check out a few of my previous posts on the celebrity non-candidate: The Fred Thompson romance, Politics and entertainment: The fact and fiction of Fred Thompson, and Imaginary politics.

(And then, again, go watch The Hunt for Red October and Die Hard 2: Die Harder.)

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