More on Fred Thompson, the Actor Who Would be President

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Yesterday, I wrote about how Law and Order star and former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson is currently third in GOP polls. A Slate article today points out that Thompson is the Republicans’ “therapy” candidate — depressed by the imperfections of supposed frontrunners McCain, Giuliani, and Romney, Republicans are turning to the man who looks appealing and makes them feel good. Slate paints him as the Republicans’ Barack Obama. (Feel the excitement at draftfredthompson.com.)

But like with Obama, there are questions about whether Thompson has the substance to back up all his style. Thompson’s experience consists almost completely of eight years in the Senate — he has no other governing experience and his Washington work before coming to the Senate in 1994 was as a lawyer in the Watergate hearings and eighteen years as a lobbyist. Oh, and he was in The Hunt for Red October and Die Hard 2. And Sex in the City!

But the Republican base has shown a willingness to overlook a lack of prior experience when choosing presidential candidates. In fact, the comparison to George W. Bush is particularly apt. Thompson is from the south and wins hearts, not minds, based largely on folksy charm and “man’s man” swagger. He doesn’t have any foreign policy experience, and he enters (or returns to, I suppose) the national consciousness as something of a blank slate. So should we call off the contest and hand Fred Dalton Thompson the Republican nomination?

Not just yet. In a major break from the GWB formula, Thompson is under fire from none other than James Dobson for not being Christian enough. Originally, Dobson said he wouldn’t support Thompson because he wasn’t a Christian. Thompson’s people fired back that Thompson had been baptized in the Church of Christ (phfft, as if baptism is the standard; one must be a veritable foot soldier for Christ if they want to succeed in today’s GOP), prompting Dobson to respond that Thompson does not talk about or live his faith enough. Dobson said instead that he liked Newt Gingrich, who has a past full of indiscretions and truly awful moral behavior, but confessed his sins and confirmed his faith to Dobson early this year.

So give that a shot, Fred. Divorce your wife while she is in the hospital with cancer, remarry just months later, fail to make child support payments, then cheat on and subsequently divorce your second wife to marry an aide twenty years your junior. Then tell James Dobson you’re sorry about it all. You’ll be a lock.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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