Fred Thompson’s bold moves

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Isaid that in life, tim­ing is ev­ery­thing. And it could be that for­mer Ten­nessee Sen. Fred Thompson’s en­try into the 2008 pres­i­den­tial race, ex­pected in early Septem­ber, will prove to be timed per­fectly.

Ac­cord­ing to a just re­leased poll from the Pew Re­search Cen­ter, 52 per­cent of Amer­i­cans have a neg­a­tive re­ac­tion to the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign thus far and only 19 per­cent have any­thing pos­i­tive to say. And the main com­plaint of the dis­grun­tled 52 per­cent is that the cam­paign sim­ply started too early.

This could be Mr. Thompson’s “rope-a-dope.” Re­call this ma­neu­ver of Muham­mad Ali’s in his fa­mous “rum­ble in the jun­gle” in Zaire with then heavy­weight cham­pion Ge­orge Fore­man. Mr. Ali leaned back on the ropes in the early rounds, his fore­arms up cov­er­ing his face, and let Mr. Fore­man pound him­self to ex­haus­tion. Mr. Ali then stepped up, fresh and strong, and knocked Mr. Fore­man out.

Mr. Thompson has been sit­ting on the side­lines while the large field of an­nounced can­di­dates on both sides have been traips­ing from de­bate to de­bate in a cam­paign be­gun ear­lier than ever.

When Mr. Thompson an­nounces next month and for­mally en­ters the race, his tim­ing alone might be ap­pre­ci­ated by a pub­lic won­der­ing why they have been forced to start lis­ten­ing to can­di­dates more than a year and half be­fore they’ll go to the polls to vote.

In a Wash­ing­ton Post poll con­ducted two weeks ago, only one in five Repub­li­cans say they are “very sat­is­fied” with their can­di­dates. And al­though the De­moc- ratic field is more set­tled (al­most half of Democrats say they are “very sat­is­fied” with their can­di­dates), the neg­a­tive rat­ings for their front run­ner and likely nom­i­nee, Sen. Hil­lary Clin­ton, re­main at al­most 50 per­cent.

So, Fred Thompson, a sea­soned ac­tor, may re­ally know how to re­spond on cue. With Act One, Scene One played out, he may en­ter the stage in Scene Two and wake up the au­di­ence.

And, from what the Wash­ing­ton Post’s David Broder re­ports, it may be more than just tim­ing that wakes up this au­di­ence.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Broder, who re­ported on a two hour in­ter­view he re­cently did with Mr. Thompson, the ex-sen­a­tor and ac­tor is go­ing to be bold. He’s got a nice life as a star in the pop­u­lar “Law and Or­der” TV se­ries, a beau­ti­ful young wife and young chil­dren, and is not run­ning for pres­i­dent out of some ego-driven need.

He is step­ping up to the plate out of a sense that there are things that need to be said that aren’t be­ing said, and that, if elected, he’ll have a shot at get­ting th­ese things done.

Any­one who has been read­ing what I have writ­ten th­ese last few months knows my in­credulity that the mas­sive en­ti­tle­ments cri­sis fac­ing this na­tion has not been part of the cam­paign dis­cus­sion. It’s been like hear­ing the so­cial di­rec­tor of the Ti­tanic an­nounce shuf­fle­board times as the ship is go­ing down.

It sounds like Mr. Thompson is ready to put the facts on the ta­ble be­fore the Amer­i­can pub­lic and, yes, fas­ten your seat­belts, tell the truth.

He’s go­ing to talk about Medi­care and So­cial Se­cu­rity and what we need to do to tighten our belts and get our lives back un­der con­trol. And he’s go­ing to talk about na­tional se­cu­rity and weigh in as a tra­di­tional val­ues can­di­date.

This kind of hon­esty and can- dor is only pos­si­ble with a can­di­date for whom the truth is more im­por­tant than the job. And it sounds like Fred is ready.

Mrs. Clin­ton, who in all like­li­hood will be the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee, has just re­leased her first cam­paign ad. In the short video, she lays out her cards about what her cam­paign will be about.

First, she’ll run against Ge­orge Bush. Sec­ond, she’ll tell the Amer­i­can peo­ple they can rely on her to fix their prob­lems. Ac­cord- ing to her ad, we’re all “in­vis­i­ble” to the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The ad couldn’t help but re­mind me of an ex­change that oc­curred at the time when Mrs. Clin­ton was mak­ing her first push at Hil­lary-care dur­ing her hus­band’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. It took place be­tween then Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, and Paul Starr, who was one of the crafters of the Clin­ton plan to na­tion­al­ize health care.

Mr. Starr was pitch­ing the gov­ern­ment-as-mother-hen view of the world that de­fined Hil­lary then and, as ev­i­dent in her new ad, de­fines her now.

Mr. Gramm said to Mr. Starr, “Don’t tell me that you care as much about my grand­chil­dren’s health care as I do.” Mr. Starr replied, “Ex­cuse me, sen­a­tor. But I do care about your grand­chil­dren’s health care.” Mr. Gramm then re­joined, “Then tell me, what are their names.”

No, Sen­a­tor Clin­ton. The pres­i­dent of the United States can­not be and should not be our mother.

Free­dom is for adults. It sounds like Fred Thompson is about to re­mind us all of this im­por­tant truth.

Star Parker is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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