Wait… What?

9 comments June 1st, 2007at 05:54pm Posted by Eli

Looks like David Brooks is all aboard the Fred train, although Newt is still his first love.

[T]he divide that engages Thompson most is not the ideological one between liberals and conservatives or between this or that brand of conservatism. It’s the divide between concentrated power and decentralized power.

Thompson’s core theme is that there is a disconnect between the American people and their rulers. He campaigns against concentrated Republican power almost as much as he does against concentrated Democratic power. Though a Republican, he’s able to launch a reasonably nonpartisan attack on the way government has worked over the last 19 years.

This suspicion of concentrated power in general and Washington in particular is not some election-year conversion for Thompson. It stretches back his whole life. He began his career, remember, investigating the Nixon White House. As Stephen Hayes reminded us in The Weekly Standard, as a young staffer on the Senate Watergate committee, Thompson asked the question that revealed the existence of the White House tapes.

He went home to Tennessee and became a protégé of Howard Baker, whose party apparatus has always had a folksy, country vs. capital ethos.

As a senator, Thompson investigated the Clinton campaign finance scandals (poorly), and established a reputation on one issue above all others: federalism. He was the only senator who voted against something called the Good Samaritan law because he thought it centralized power in the national government. He was that rarest of creatures — someone who not only preached federalism to get to Washington, but practiced it after he arrived.


He tells party strategists that there is a tide in the country against the way Washington does business, which he is best positioned to ride. He says the 2006 election was not primarily about Iraq, it was about corruption and pork-barrel spending.


Fred Thompson’s political skills are as good as anybody now running, but his challenge is going to be building a concrete agenda on his anti-Washington message. It will be translating his Goldwater risorgimento philosophy into policies on energy, health care reform, Islamic extremism and education. For if there is one thing the last 30 years have taught us, it is that campaigns that are strictly anti-Washington do not command 50 percent of the vote because they don’t address the decentralized global challenges that now face us.

Perhaps, as my friend Daniel Casse notes, what the G.O.P. needs is Newt Gingrich’s brain lodged in Fred Thompson’s temperament.

What I found most remarkable (yet unsurprising) about this glowing profile is the fact that Brooks somehow neglects to mention that this stalwart anti-corruption crusader who has been suspicious of Washington “his whole life” was a corporate lobbyist for 17 years.

I’m sure he was only lobbying Congress to vote their consciences and uphold the highest ethical standards.

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers


  • 1. elmo  |  June 1st, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Thompson asked the question that revealed the existence of the White House tapes.

    Now that is irony!

  • 2. Ruth  |  June 2nd, 2007 at 5:37 am

    Also note that the same Fred Thompson that voted to convict Clinton for obstruction of justice is asking for Scooter to be pardoned, calling his obstruction of justice innocent. Fred is a GOP’er, they can’t be trusted with the laws.

  • 3. PoliShifter  |  June 2nd, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Thompson would be a disaster for America. But I have this very ill feeling in my stomach that he will be able to fool people and lull them into a state of feeling good about themselves and America in the manner that Reagan did while continuing the disasterous economic and political policies of Bush (also started by Reagan…the idea of spending the treasury on the military just to break social security, medicare, etc)

    On another note Eli, I nominated you for Thinking Blogger Award

    I’ll leave it up to you if you want to play around or not.

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