Monday, May 21, 2007

Freddy T & Ali G - a Tale of Two Tennesseans

The Washington Post has a good article and a conversation transcript on its site touching on both Fred and Al. Well, good for Fred Thompson, not quite so complimentary of the other Tennessean, Al Gore who grew up recognizing Tennessee mostly from pictures viewed safely from the confines of private Washington D.C. schools. The Post captures the comparison:

Unlike his Democratic native-son counterpart Gore, who was picked apart like so much Tennessee roadkill in 2000 for his campaign-consultant-directed wardrobe transformation from dark suits to warmer tones, Thompson was rewarded for his makeover from slick silk-stocking lawyer to accomplished hayseed. In 1996, when he won election to his first full term, more Tennesseans voted for Thompson than for any other politician in state history.

Thompson never came off looking like a cardboard cutout -- the way Gore did as a presidential candidate -- because there was a kernel of truth to the image. Who could imagine a teenage Gore driving a pickup along Massachusetts Avenue on his way to the privileged academic bastion of St. Albans? But young Freddie Thompson probably did kick back in a Chevy, drinking a beer with his buds, after a Lawrence County High School football game. As Tennessee columnist Frank Cagle once put it, Thompson fit that truck in a way that Michael Dukakis never fit the tank.

Course, Thompson also tends to catch some slack because, at 6 feet 6 inches and with a charm and sense of humor that can crack even the most tightly clenched among us, he's someone men want to be and women want to be with. He's the John Wayne to Gore's professor. Gore was the prep-school son of a U.S. senator from Carthage, Tenn., spending most of his formative years not in the green hills of the Volunteer State but in the monument-dotted confines of Washington. Thompson was the son of a used-car salesman from Lawrenceburg, Tenn., who, like Thompson's mother, never graduated from high school.

Gore was always destined for the academic stratosphere, attending Harvard after his private-school grooming. Thompson was such a class clown and scholastic underachiever at Lawrence County High that a group of teachers got together to protest his being named "Most Athletic" by his classmates because they didn't want to reward the kid for being a goof-off.
And in other snippets:
A case in point about Thompson's undeniable allure: At an April 18 gathering of about 60 members of Congress, organized by Rep. Zach Wamp, a Tennessee Republican, Thompson was asked about his dating history during the nearly two decades between his two marriages. In response, the one-time beau of country music singer Lorrie Morgan offered an honest assessment of his romantic history. "I was single for a long time, and, yep, I chased a lot of women," he said. "And a lot of women chased me. And those that chased me tended to catch me."

It was vintage Thompson, and there's more where that came from. Shortly after I wrote in 2000 that Thompson bears a striking resemblance to the Klingon "Star Trek" character Worf -- high forehead, wide nose and a hairline that exposes a bald top (Google it) -- a package from the then-unmarried senator arrived in the mail. It was a picture of Worf that Thompson had signed with this message: "In the immortal words of Sawyer Brown, some girls don't like boys like me. Ah, but some girls do."

You'd never catch Al Gore or Bill Frist quoting Sawyer Brown.
There is also a transcript of a conversation with the article's author that makes for a very good read. The money quote:
But what he has going for him with moderate conservatives and independents is that he can't be labeled a GOP stooge. He backed John McCain's campaign finance reform efforts. He targeted his own party when he was investigating campaign finance irregularities from the 1996 election. In that case, he so angered the likes of Trent Lott that the Republicans capped his investigation at a single year, effectively neutering his efforts.

He's pro-gun, pro-life, pro-tax cuts, but when he disagrees with his party, he doesn't hesitate to say so. I think that's part of what makes him attractive
Intellectual honesty and operating off principal are the two critical elements for a good President. Compare Thompson's honesty with the careful wordsmithing of Hillary Clinton on the Iraq War issue. Its the vast difference between principle and ambition.

And anyone who can go after Trent Lott has gone up in my estimation by leaps and bounds. Trent Lott is the poster child for all that went wrong with GOP since about 1998.

Good article. Good transcript. Read them both.

No comments:


View My Stats