Poor, desperate Republicans!
They're in a blind panic. A myriad of scandals, ranging from vote-selling to sexual peccadilloes has exposed them as the hypocrites and liars that they are. Junior Bush, the "leader" of their party, is the most reviled chief executive in 30 years. The war that they browbeat a gullible and frightened public into accepting is going badly. Prospects for the GOP in 2008 are dim indeed.
Enter Fred Thompson, the former senator from Tennessee. Thompson has apparently been drafted by the mucky-mucks in the shadowy GOP power elite as their savior.
On the surface, it seems like a good choice. After all, before Big Fred announced this week, the crop of GOP presidential hopefuls was...shall we say, meager? Each candidate is flawed in major ways that will make the Republican "base" (a combination of the greedy rich and the pathetic ignorant) uncomfortable. Rudy Giuliani is good at shrieking about terrorists and crime, but he's a cross-dresser and cavorts with homosexuals. John McCain's rants about chasing people to "the Gates of Hell" might have played if it weren't for the rumors that Karl Rove started about McCain's mental stability. Mitt Romney is a Mormon which doesn't sit well with the ignorant Evangelicals. The rest of the nobodies that fill out the slate is the usual Republican combination of xenophobes, religious extremists, and racists. (The one exception is Ron Paul, who appears to have enough integrity to buck the party's support for the war. He has about as much chance to win the nomination as does Senator David Vitter of winning Husband of the Year.)
So, in desperation, GOP kingmakers have turned to Fred Thompson. In many ways, Fred is ideal. He has never expressed any strong convictions, and is therefore able to shape his message for maximum appeal to the public. He has a folksy way of speaking reminiscent of Ronald Reagan that will comfort that part of the base that needs a father figure. And, most importantly, he's in on the game, having spent many years as a Washington lobbyist, so the corporate pirates need not fear any populist claptrap spilling out of his jowly, slack-chinned mouth.
The next step is to crank up the image machine. Look for lots of ads with Thompson waxing eloquent about how Americans need to unite, about how together we can get through this dark time, about how America is still strong and great. Soaring background music. Black-and-white photographs of Daddy Fred peering out of sunlit windows, or at his desk with his shirt-sleeves rolled up, or riding a horse with a shotgun across the pommel of his saddle.
We've seen it all before. It's the same thing they did for Junior in 2000 and for Reagan in 1980. Lots of image, minimum substance. Fred is the designated Daddy; the man that will lead them with the power of his convictions and morality.
And it will work. At least, it will work for the most hopelessly ignorant of the Republican base. Never mind that Fred's performance in the Senate was less than stellar. Never mind that he came into the race reluctantly and selfishly. Never mind his reputation for laziness and apathy. None of that matters. "He shares my beliefs," the yokels will say, nodding solemnly as he drawls out placations and folksy adages.
The big hurdle that Fred and his puppetmasters must overcome (and it is HUGE) is Junior. When they selected Junior to be their sock puppet in 2000 they assumed that they could control him and that he had at least a minimum of competence. (After all, his father is still a respected power broker). But Junior has been unable to meet even their minimal expectations. He has implemented many of their goals (war in Iraq, regressive tax cuts, rollback of environmental regulations) but has been so ham-handed about it that some 60+% of the American public got wise. Bad form, Junior!
It all could have been so easy, if Junior could have managed even a smattering of competence. How they must rue the day that they picked such a flawed human being to be their figurehead! Even with Cheney whispering in his ear, Junior couldn't pull it off.
Well, one just has to laugh. It will be very amusing to watch the Thompson campaign try to thread the needle, distancing Fred from the colossal disaster of the Bush administration, while still advocating for most (if not all) of its policies. For my part, I hope Thompson gets the nomination. That way, those of us who despise the Republicans and all that they stand for can take their most cherished image, the Ronald-Reagan-on-a-horse father figure, and smash it once and for all. Let them put their best foot forward, so that we can expose it as the sham it has always been.