Friday, May 18, 2007

"This Is The Sound of a Candidate Thinking"

Peggy Noonan remains one of the best wordsmiths in our language. She honed her edge as a speechwriter for Reagan during her adult formative years, always gentle, often pointed. In her Wall Street Journal article The Man Who Wasn't There, Peggy captures three critical but previously unremarked observations about Fred Thompson.

First, Peggy says that no matter the semantics, Fred is already a candidate.

He is running a great campaign. It's just not a declared campaign. It's a guerrilla campaign whose informality is meant to obscure his intent. It has been going on for months and is aimed at the major pleasure zones of the Republican brain. In a series of pointed columns, commentaries and podcasts, Mr. Thompson has been talking about things conservatives actually talk about.
What a refreshing approach. Instead of 30-second soundbite answers to questions that interest no one but Chris Mathews, Sen. Thompson is thinking, then talking, about the issues that the Republic primary voters actually care about. As a stand-in for Paul Harvey—I wonder how many candidates tried out for that job!—Fred Thompson has practice condensing thoughtful observations and opinions into short but clear and complete statements that resonate with listeners.

Second, Fred Thompson and his apparently non-existent staff are playing the Internet with skill and rhythm of which others can only dream. By achieving viral status on the 'net, Thompson has harnessed the power of thousands of individual communicators effectively supporting his effort, including many who are not yet backing his candidacy. One needs look no further than Thompson's video reply last week to Michael Moore's taunts.
Through viral replication, more likely voters have seen this 38-seconds of non-PC direct talk than have seen paid advertising by any of the formal candidates.

The effect, as Noonan observes,
These comments and opinions are being read and forwarded in Internet Nation. They are revealing and interesting, but they're not heavy, not homework. They have an air of "This is the sound of a candidate thinking." That's an unusual sound.
Third, Fred Thompson is comfortable within his skin. He has the bearing of a leader. He is a true conservative, of the non-hyphenated one-word variety, with a kindly persona. In his first Hollywood acting job, he was recruited to play himself, a role his directors say he has never left. What you see is what you get, from both the actor and the politician. This stands in stark contrast to the reality and the perception of the rest of the field, especially its present leaders, who seem preoccupied with their needs to stand tall on islands of polls.

The field of announced candidates verges on tiresome without satisfying. The professional politicos have flocked together, rushing to announce, rushing from speech to speech, rushing to scripted debates.

While the potential candidate leads his own parade, marching to a different drummer, collecting more supporters with every step.

Related Links:
Fred Thompson Talks; Washington Listens
Fred Thompson as Vice President?
"I'm not interested in being the tallest midget in the room. "
Fred Thompson Takes Virginia Tech To Task

Captain Ed sees some of the same skills

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