Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fred Thompson Tears Down "The 4th Wall"

A testament to how he is impressing the press - imagine that, a politician that takes the press seriously *and* treats it seriously, not like a campaign organ (Liberals, including Giuliani) or an annoyance (Conservatives, Traditionally).

I imagine most politicians have to put some sort of psychic barrier between themselves and the relentlessly dart-throwing media, if only to stay sane during the grueling weird endurance marathon we call "running for president." But this week, in an exchange with National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, Fred Thompson tore down that fourth wall, separating him -- a potential leader of the Free World -- and us, folks who chat for a living.

[The Rest of the Story]

Few probably would have paid much attention to a mild little essay by Ponnuru taking Fred Thompson to task for votes on a couple of issues that, as even Ponnuru noted, few if any actual voters care passionately about, such as federal pre-emption of state laws and a federal cap on attorney's fees in state tobacco cases. "But if conservatives mean what they say when they complain about the dangerous rapacity of the trial bar," Ponnuru challenged, "they ought to ask Senator Thompson a few hard questions."

Ask and ye shall receive. Much to everyone's surprise, Fred Thompson quickly dashed off a response, posted on -- a devastating, substantive, smart, wry and above all personal response. For example, on his opposition to a bill that would federally regulate lawyer's fees in tobacco cases: "Get this: Under the amendment the states would have been required to send the attorneys' bills to the House and Senate Judiciary for approval," riffs Thompson. "As I said on the floor on May 19, 1998, 'I did not come to the Senate to review billing records from lawyers in private lawsuits.'

"This discussion," Fred Thompson goes on to say, "is not an idle exercise. Republicans have struggled in recent years, because they have strayed from basic principles. Federalism is one of those principles."

It's one of those small incidents that speak volumes. Can you imagine McCain or Giuliani personally debating a senior editor on National Review's Web site? By tearing down the fourth wall, Fred Thompson announced to conservatives, more eloquently than even his words could, that he really is one of us.

Courtesy of Maggie Gallagher at Yahoo

I guess after a decade+ of fake conservatives like Bush father and son, and conservatives with bile like Gingrich, a genuine intellectual conservative that is personable is a bit of a shock to the system. Good.

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