Frederick Dalton (Fred) Thompson, with his candidacy to be declared just after Labor Day, is described by Republican pollster Frank Luntz as the “Six-million-pound gorilla” of the Republican primary race. At 64 years, Thompson is best known for his role as New York CityDistrict Attorney Arthur Branch on TVs Law and Order series. However, he is also a well-known politician having served in the U.S. Senate as the Representative from Tennessee from 1994 to 2003.
While his career is quite diversified, his heart is in government where he is still actively involved in the Council on Foreign Relations, specializing in national security and intelligence.
Fred Thompson born in Sheffield, Alabama, was the first member of his family to go to college where he earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy and political science before going on to earn his J.D. degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1967. His early credentials then show that him admitted to the Tennessee State Bar where he worked as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1969 to 1972 before becoming the campaign manager for Republican U.S. Senator Howard Baker. Baker primarily worked as an attorney until the early 1990s during which time he served as a special counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence.
During his time in practice he was appointed as minority counsel for the Watergate hearings and according to Fox News was responsible for getting Senator Baker to ask “What did the President know, and when did he know it?” This question is one that led directly to President Nixon’s downfall. According to historian Stanley Kutler, Fred Thompson and Howard Baker “carried water for the White House, but they were watching out for their interests, too… they weren’t going to mindlessly go down the tubes” for Nixon.
As early in his career as 1977, Thompson exposed corruption of Tennessee governor Ray Blanton when he took on the case of Marie Ragghianti the chairperson of the Tennessee Parole Board who was fired for refusing to release felons who had bribed aides of the governor. With the successful completion of the case, Blanton was found to have arbitrarily fired Ragghianti and was ordered to reinstate her with back pay. Thompson’s success in this case resulted in Blanton being toppled from power.
When control of the Senate passed from Republican to Democratic in 2001, Thompson became the ranking minority member of the Committee on Governmental Affairs.
In March 2003, Thompson was featured in a commercial by the conservative non-profit group Citizens United that advocated the invasion of Iraq, stating: “When people ask what has Saddam done to us, I ask, what had the 9/11 hijackers done to us — before 9/11,” and he has remained supportive of that invasion. In 2006 Thompson served on the advisory board for I. Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, Jr., who was convicted of lying to federal investigators during their investigation of the Plame affair. Thompson was convinced Libby was innocent and set out to raise more than $5 million to help finance the his defense, even going so far as to host a fundraiser for the Libby defense fund at his home in McLean, Virginia.
Fred Thompson believes that federalism provides a basis for a proper analysis of most issues and considers each vote on the depth of government involvement and as to if it is a matter that should be decided on the federal, state, or local level. Endorsed by U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato of New York and fourteen other current members of Congress Thompson is well on his way to be a contender in the Republican primaries. However, Thompson is not controversy free, most notably his pro-choice lobbying, allegations of utilizing his political action committee to benefit his son, and finger-pointing accusations that he worked as a White House mole during Watergate.
Another controversial factor is Thompson’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), a form of cancer and whether it would affect his performance as president. However, according to Thompson, he is in remission and currently experiencing no symptoms from the disease. Thompson’s cancer is reportedly the lowest of three grades of NHL. Overall, there is a lot to be said for Thompson who has led a full and successful life as not only a politician but also as an actor. In my opinion, he has many things in common with former President Reagan but is probably a better actor. For him, his acting career could be an advantage as it gives him instant name recognition and if you top that with his political credibility, you could be looking at a really viable candidate.
Also in his favor according to Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics is that two of the top-tier candidates on the Democratic side (Obama and Edwards) currently have eight years in the Senate which is exactly the amount of time that Thompson has belonged to the Senate. Additionally, in his favor is the fact that in today’s political arena the aura that a candidate sends off is nearly as important as experience and Fred Thompson projects both strength and seriousness, which makes people feel comfortable in trusting him. In other words, Thompson would never come out looking like a lightweight if he is put in a debate pitted against Obama, Clinton, or Edwards. Given that, it will come down to how grueling a schedule Thompson is willing to commit himself to over the next several months since he going to need to fight for the nomination if he really wants it. As for myself, I think that America could do worse than Thompson since he is enough in the center to possibly enable him to draw together members from both parties. Given my perfect choice, though, I would still prefer Ron Paul because he is man who will not be swayed by mediocrity or lobbying efforts.
[tags]Frederick Thompson, Fred Thompson, Law & Order, Presidential campaign, 2008 candidates, Republican, Ron Paul, Ronald Reagan, Edwards, Obama, Tom Bevan, Scooter Libby, Watergate, RealClearPolitics, mid stream conservative, conservative, pro-life[/tags]