Three decades ago, two young lawyers worked behind the scenes, on opposite sides of the political aisle, to investigate the corruption and deceit that became known simply as “Watergate.” One, an ideologically liberal Democrat who had recently graduated from Yale Law School, served as a member of the impeachment inquiry staff advising the House Judiciary Committee during the scandal. The other, a wise-beyond-his-years conservative Republican Southerner with a Juris Doctorate from Vanderbilt University, served as co-chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee. Little would anyone suspect in 1974 that these two could face each other for the presidency in 2008.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, these two politicos are, respectively, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Fred Dalton Thompson.
The fact that Hillary Clinton has been plotting her return to the White House since the day she and her impeached husband absconded with a goodly portion of the furniture has been the nation’s worst kept secret for the last six years. So intense is her hunger for presidential power that Republicans and Democrats alike are desperately seeking a credible alternative. An increasing number of Dems think they have found their party’s salvation in the very junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.
Republicans in general are entering panic mode over the prospect of another Clinton Administration, with social conservatives in particular voicing concerns that the only viable GOP candidates are not trustworthy advocates of their values, and the only trustworthy advocates of their values are not viable candidates. Translation: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain or Mitt Romney could beat Hillary but can’t be trusted. Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo are trustworthy on social issues but probably are unelectable. Enter Fred Thompson, arguably the most viable potential Republican candidate for President of the United States since Ronald Reagan. And for many of the same reasons.
“Politics is show business for ugly people,” Thompson has been known to joke in that dry southern drawl of his. He should know. He has been in and out of both professions for thirty years. After Watergate, Thompson established a reputation as a tough prosecutor in his home state of Tennessee. In 1977, he took on a state parole board case that ultimately brought down Tennessee Gov. Ray Blanton on charges of selling pardons. The case became the basis for a book and, in 1985, a movie called “Marie.” When the movie producers failed to find a professional actor who could play him convincingly, Thompson played himself, which launched his acting career. He then went on to star in such movies as “The Hunt for Red October,” “Cape Fear” and “In the Line of Fire.”
In 1994, Tennessee voters elected Thompson to the United States Senate seat vacated by Al Gore when Gore was elected Vice President. Thompson was reelected handily in 1996 to a full six-year term, and was prominently mentioned as a possibly running mate for George W. Bush in 2000.
In 2002, Thompson declined to run for another term, opting instead to accept a lucrative television role as District Attorney Arthur Branch in the long-running NBC crime drama, “Law and Order.” Additionally, he is now a frequent substitute for legendary radio commentator Paul Harvey.
Since leaving the senate, Thompson has remained active in government. Last year, for example, President Bush asked him to help guide the Supreme Court nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts, proving once more Thompson’s acumen in both public policy and public relations.
Fred Thompson is said to be considering a run for the presidency. Conservatives starved for another Reagan could do much worse. He is disarming and down to earth. His experience in the limelight has given him a perfect sense of timing. But most of all, he is experienced in public policy and brings to it a conservative worldview. He is pro-life, pro-family, pro-traditional marriage, pro-Second Amendment and pro-free enterprise.
And if he runs, he could not only defeat anyone the Democrats nominate, including Hillary Clinton, but his coattails just might be long enough to bring the GOP back to power in Congress.