This silly charade known as the presidential primary campaign is seldom sillier that when the chattering class assures us that Fred Thompson has seriously damaged his chances of winning the GOP presidential nomination by waiting too long to enter the fray.
Moreover, they chortle, his decision to avoid joining the current slate of Republican hopefuls in the upcoming televised New Hampshire debate Wednesday night shows that he doesn't really understand the need to fall into line and observe the rules for campaigning as laid down by the all-wise media elite which assumes that they are running the show and making the rules.
How, they ask, can he pass up a chance to appear on a televised debate (read "disorganized mob scene") and explain what he stands for in a series of ten second sound bites? As others have observed, what Thompson has bypassed is a boring media event with a mini audience, choosing instead to appear on the lively Jay Leno show the next night and make his points to Leno's 6.3 million viewers.
Thompson is showing us how well he understands the utter absurdity of an elongated primary season crammed with presidential hopefuls of both parties, all squandering massive amounts of money while jockeying for a top spot months before the first primaries and more than a year away from the presidential election.
It's a silly charade, as I said, and Fred Thompson not only knows it but has shown his amusement — if not his contempt — for this expensive side show conducted by and for the media ring masters and the political junkies who comprise their audience. They need, after all, something else besides Paris Hilton to prattle about from time to time.
So as the experts assure us that Thompson has ruined his chances by waiting too long to join the marathon, by simply standing aside and letting his rivals spend money as if there was an endless supply of it and go at each other's throats, exposing their candidacies to needless damage, he's unscarred and way up there in the polls without lifting a finger.
In other words, Fred Thompson has proven just how shrewd a political tactician he is.
Now, however, comes the hard part. Shrewdness and calculation are no longer enough to make Fred Thompson a credible candidate. He now needs to hit the ground running and show his supporters that he is exactly what they believe him to be — a skilled and credible communicator of solid conservative principles in the Reagan mold capable of inspiring a war weary electorate fed up with unfilled promises and wary of candidates who promise much and deliver nothing of substance.
The minute he comes out of the starting gate he must emerge at full gallop, breathing fire. Nothing less will suffice. A suspicious somnolent electorate will no longer respond to run-of-the-mill political rhetoric — to promises of genuine reform often heard but never fulfilled.
They want to hear a rallying cry urging them to join a crusade to make America once again what it once was — Reagan's shining city on the hill, a nation capable of doing whatever needs to be done no matter how hard it is or how long it takes. And a nation that believes in itself and the bedrock principles that have made us the world's wealthiest and most successful super power.
If you listen carefully to Fred Thompson when he speaks of his vision of what America can and must be what you hear is nothing less than good old solid time-tested common sense, delivered in his wise-old-grandfather manner. Wisdom from a very wise man. It's very reassuring to the individual listener, but totally uninspiring to a jaded mass public which demands action instead of nostrums, a slumbering public that needs to be rudely awakened and told their house is on fire. Don't whisper your wisdoms to them, shout them from the house tops and give them a fire hose. Otherwise they won't listen.
A weary public needs to hear the blare of trumpets, the rattle of sabers and the call to battle if they are to be enlisted in Thompson's army. Muted promises and reassurances will no longer suffice.
It is said that in order to win the presidency a candidate needs to have a fire in his belly, He also needs to ignite a fire in hearts of the voters.
Light the fire, Fred.
Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist and World War II Marine who writes for NewsMax.Com. He is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s.
He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska. He is also a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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