Sunday, March 19, 2006

Getting civil with Fred Thompson

It was the morning of July 4, 1995. I had shown up at a Middle Tennessee boat dock with my wife Stacey and toddler son Logan at the invitation of Dale Gish, a friend who owned a massive yacht (think Greek tycoon-ish). Gish had asked us to join his family, along with "a couple of other friends," to take an all day cruise up the Cumberland River, ending the day watching the fireworks from his boat in downtown Nashville. It was a welcome break for me, having spent some time trying to sort out my life after enduring a long, unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign working for Jim Cooper a few months before.
We got settled on the upper deck with Gish to began the long, slow journey down the River. After we pulled away from shore, the two friends Gish spoke of emerged from a lower observation deck that I had not yet explored. The friends were a lovely young woman and Fred Thompson, Tennessee's newly sworn in U.S. Senator.
Gish, not realizing the significance and timing of the union, introduced me to Fred and his date. For a brief moment - although it seemed like hours - Fred and I just stood face to face, staring at one another. Both were certainly not anticipating the encounter - not there, not then. But in typical Fred Thompson fashion, his facial expression turned from disbelief into a broad shit-eating grin. He stretched his hand out toward me and blurted to Gish, "I know this fella all too well."
As fate would have it, I had spent most of my waking hours during the previous 18 months attacking Fred Thompson in the public arena (on TV, radio and in print), doing all I could to tarnish his reputation as an actor, lawyer, lobbyist and politician.
Shortly after the introduction, Fred invited me to settle into an area of the boat where we could talk. I recall him saying something to the effect that "if we're going to be stuck on this damn boat together for the next 12 hours, we should at least try to be civil about it all."
During our chat we recounted some details of the 1994 race, including some of my more pointed attacks on him ("Gucci-wearing, Lincoln-driving, cigar-smoking, two-bit actor turned D.C. lobbyist who will say and do anything to get elected" was clearly one of his favorites). As only Fred Thompson could do, he managed to take an otherwise potentially volatile encounter and turn it into a pleasant - almost bonding - exchange with a recognized political arch enemy.
While I still hold fast to my belief that the better, more qualified man - Jim Cooper - lost that race, I do see why Howard Baker, the epitome of political civility, would be urging the White House to consider bringing in Fred Thompson to be the President's chief of staff.
At a time of great turmoil in Washington - from strained Administration-congressional relations to free-falling public support for virtually all of Bush's initiatives - a little dose of Fred Thompson might be good for ails the White House.
While I doubt - if he brought in Fred Thompson - that I would have any newfound respect for President Bush and all he represents, Bush would be making a smart political move having Fred Thompson help steer his ship.
I can see Fred now working his magic, pulling together a group of angry congressional leaders, sitting them down, and saying through a broad shit-eating grin..."since we're going to be stuck together in office another 24 months with this President, we at least try to be civil about it all."


Blogger Litz said...

I kinda lost all respect for Fred Thompson when I read last month that he was raising money for Scooter Libby's defense. And I really didn't have much to begin with after he was hired by the Bushies to usher John Roberts through the SCOTUS nomination.

He's just another loyalty-oath taking, Kool-Aid drinking, rubber-stamp Republibot, just like they all are. There is no future in the GOP anymore.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Wintermute said...

"doing all I could to tarnish his reputation as an actor, lawyer, lobbyist and politician"

You seem to recount this without shame.

I like this quote:

In a February 1991 article for Life Magazine, [Lee] Atwater wrote:

My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood.

8:17 PM  
Blogger newscoma said...

I'm wondering if Fred is helping out old Scooter because, and is this possible (???), he will embarrass the White House, which could bring in a new era of Moderate Republicanism.
I an so disgusted by this White House that I miss old Fred and politicians who weren't shrill and trying to scare the shit out of everyone.

5:13 AM  
Blogger Litz said...

I'm wondering if Fred is helping out old Scooter because, and is this possible (???), he will embarrass the White House, which could bring in a new era of Moderate Republicanism.

See, that's the problem in a nutshell. Everyone keeps hoping that these "moderate Republicans" will stand up, speak out, do something principled. I mean good grief, Democrats are not shy about speaking out as we see our party drifting to the right and acting at odds with our core principals.

But the Republicans simply don't do it. There is a shocking, Mafia-like control that the RNC has over its people and they maintain this party loyalty and unity of message, no matter what.

Lamar Alexander was supposed to be a moderate, remember? And yet he's in lock-step with the BushBots every single time. They all are. Every one of these so-called "moderate Republicans" has ended up rubber stamping 95% of what Bush and his gang of thieves wants to do.

Remember when the GOP stood for small government? Now thanks to the BushBots we have the government spying on American citizens, telling us what we can do in our bedrooms, snooping around our library records and our Google searches. Small government? BIG BROTHER!

Face it, it's over. There is no such thing as a "moderate Republican." They may try to cast themselves in a veneer of moderation around election time, but it never fails these folks end up being jerked to the far right, Fred Thompson along with them. Quite literally, the "party" (and I do mean the GOP) is over. The "moderate Republicans" are as spineless as the Democrats get accused of being.

Pffft to Fred Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Arlen Specter and the whole crooked, spineless lot of 'em.

5:38 AM  
Blogger tennessee political pulse said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:18 AM  
Blogger tennessee political pulse said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:19 AM  
Blogger tennessee political pulse said...

For the record.
I don't own any Fred Thompson action figures nor do I have any of his movie posters hanging on my bedroom walls. I still think he was a lousy U.S. Senator, and he is clearly a guy with a FOR HIRE sign always on display.
But I respect anyone who can get me to like them or make me laugh. And he managed to do both that day back in '95.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Litz said...

They make Fred Thompson action figures? A Law & Order Action Figure Set, perhaps?


2:33 PM  
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