Thursday, September 06, 2007

On Fred Thompson

I eschewed tonight's Republican debate but I did watch Fred Thompson's presidential announcement on The Tonight Show. I have an open mind when it comes to Thompson, so before you Fredophiles out there light into me, remember that I'm not opposed to him. I even like him a bit. Having said that, I didn't like his appearance all that much. Fred Thompson is going to be his own worst enemy. Sometimes he has all the charisma of a mushroom growing on a mossy log. That is going to contribute to both people's opinion of his work ethic (an unfair accusation that already seems to have stuck) and his likeability. His ideas are most certainly good, but remember that a lot of voters never get past the superficial. In fact, that's why so many politicians now appear on late night television-to crack a few jokes and appeal to the superficiality of portions of the electorate. On top of that, he has the slower speech of an old southerner. Again, nothing wrong with that per se, but some northerners are still going to have trouble getting past it-in fact, it may reinforce some of their negative opinions about his work ethic. I hope his campaign realizes that some of his own personality traits are going to be stumbling blocks with some voters, even as they are positives for others. My concern is that there will be voters who take his traits negatively than positively. Unless, of course, he ends every episode with the Law & Order "duhn-duhn."

Oh, just one more thought, and this one might get me crucified by the Frediacs, but Mr. Thompson, know your audience! I always cringe when I watch a politician go on Leno or Letterman and he or she is almost completely serious. There is a time for that, and late night talk shows are not that place. People want a little laughter before bed, and they certainly don't want to be reminded of the serious, humorless Bob Dole of 1996. They want to see if you have a lighter side to your personality, if you are someone they'd like to have a beer with. Don't like that? Then don't do the late night talk shows.

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