The Fred factor, part 2

Our friend Stephen Hayes has been on leave from the Weekly Standard writing a biography of Vice President Cheney. Now that he has finished the book he has returned to his duties at the Standard. Steve returns this week in a big way to consider what Paul has dubbed “The Fred factor” in Steve’s Weekly Standard cover story “From the Courthouse to the White House?” Steve’s long report is full of interesting information and entertainment. Steve summarizes the current interest in Thompson, for example, as follows:

According to an adviser to one of the leading candidates, the rationale for a Thompson run is best illustrated–as so many things are–by The Simpsons. In one episode, Homer Simpson’s civic-minded neighbor Ned Flanders tells a large crowd of fellow Springfield citizens that they must choose someone to lead an anticrime campaign in the town.
“Who should lead the group?”
“You,” shouts a man from the crowd. The entire mob begins to chant.
“Flanders! Flanders! Flanders!”
When Flanders humbly begins to explain that he doesn’t have much experience in such matters, Moe the Bartender cuts him off.
“Someone else!”
The crowd joins in.
“Someone else! Someone else! Someone else!”
One obvious advantage Fred Thompson has is that he’s someone else.

That seems on the money to me, but so does this:

If he joins the race for the Republican nomination, and if he campaigns the same way he spoke to me last week, Fred Thompson, a mild-mannered, slow-talking southern gentleman, will run as the politically aggressive conservative that George W. Bush hasn’t been for four years. And the actor in the race could well be the most authentic personality in the field.
Thompson seems to recognize that he wins the guy-I’d-want-to-get-a-beer-with primary the moment he announces. He comes across as a regular guy–“folksy” will be the political clich


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