“Yeah, uh...Dick Wolf's office? Hey, it's me, Fred! Fred...Thompson? “Sigh!” That's capital F...R-E-D, T-H-O...
The final line from Prince's boy-toy group Vanity 6's one big hit has been ringing in my head like mad for the last 24 hours:
“Wake me when you're done. Guess you'll be the only one having fun.”
The reason? No, not a flashback to the 80's Minneapolis Fop/Pimp phase (that even I lustily participated in), but...the seeming end of a courageous, hard-fought...“Yawn!...campaign for the...“Yawn!”...presidency. Shit. I can't seem to keep my eyes open! I'm 'a take a nap. Thers, take it away while I grab forty winks:
Over at Red State one of the inmates has written rather mawkish obituary for the Fred Thompson campaign, which is a bit like shutting the barn door after the horse fell asleep in the hay watching Matlock.
The Thompson campaign has been fascinating to watch, as would be any desperate attempt to slap a saddle on Grandpa. Fascinating, but disturbing, like one of those sadistic japanese game shows. The constant equestrian metaphors alone were enough to make the sane queasy, and they still haven't stopped with them. From the lachrymose Red State eulogy linked above:...when it seemed that the Republican field needed a White Knight to ride in on a shiny steed and save it (and us) from itself, we didn't call on Newt Gingrich or Jeb Bush; we called on you.
And he promptly snoozed to the rescue in his Comfy BarcaLounger.
The notion of Shamblin' Fred as the Childe Geritol of the GOP is not merely hilarious on its face, however -- though, to be sure, it is that. The episode tells us more about Greater Wingnuttia than it does about Thompson, about whom there was never much to learn, or care about. What did he ever have to offer, anyway, this erstwhile Savior of the Party of Ideas?Appearing on ABC Radio, on the Sunday shows, and at speaking engagements, you spoke to the parts of us on the conservative end of the spectrum that weren't being spoken to by the other candidates. Immigration reform, strength in prosecuting the war on terror, a return to Federalism -- all issues for which you were the most articulate, and (it appeared) most viable, spokesman.
Oh. Dusty-assed wingnut bullshit, then. But it goes deeper than that. Examine this, from a maudlin Byron York, describing a brief moment when Fred seemed at least vaguely lifelike, startling half to death a clump of drowsy supporters:“We’re having a little discussion in the party nowadays about what that means for the future,” Thompson told the crowd. “Some people think we need to get away from the Reagan coalition, because it doesn’t exist any more.” The audience erupted into boos. “Some people seem to think that we need to be a little bit more what they called progressive… Well, I reject that concept with every fiber of my being.”
Even, presumably, the fibers that derive from Metamucil.
(SOUND OF NECK SNAPPING AS HEAD BOBS FROM DRIFTING INTO DEEPER SLEEP)
Owwww! Damn! Where was I? Oh, yeah. South Carolina was to be Papa Derf's supposed firewall. Where the big guy was to start his roll, or at least his rheumy-eyed trundle to the nomination. But alas, as predicted at The News Blog way back in April of last year, this was a vision only for delusionaries, rope-belted perfessers of “de law”, and dreamers:
Onto Mr. Thompson now. Or, "Toad" for this discussion. Leave us to peruse his appeal. This lumbering, hangdog, mountain of southern manliness! This champion of the rope-belted Perfesser Glenn Reynolds--fellow disingenuous scolds and Tennesseans both. Possessor of a honeyed, Eeyore-ish drawl, which he wraps around folksy catchphrases and homilies that'd make even Dan Rather say "Um...what the f*ck did that mean?" A "star" of Law & Order in his role as the anachronistic, imported-from-East-Bumf*ck, Manhattan D.A. Arthur Branch--antagonizing the belief suspension of every viewer of the show, save for those few flyovers who you can best bet, rooted for William Windom's Prosecutor Gilmer to triumph over Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch in "To Kill A Mockingbird".
But, but--the real selling point of the Shar-Pei faced, would-be candidate lay in something more tantalizing. It's that pathological GOP quest for someone new to slip on the smiling Reagan mask. The glamorous mask that allows one to push for the vilest, most retrograde sh*t imaginable, but get away with it because of a bit of Hollywood charm. So, as Ron Silver's too C-list these days (and too Jewish for a hateful Grand Olde Party), and Schwarzenegger can't "Hasta la Vista" the Constitution away, the mantle falls to ol' croaky Fred--who make no mistake, deftly espouses the freeper wet-dream list of poisonous policies, baked deep in a rich, gooey cupcake of message delivery for those whose addiction to political "sweets" trumps the common sense of how bad they are for you in the long run.
Alas, our "baker" is a well-known lazy son-of-a-b*tch. Reknowned for his sloth and flagging interest during his brief tenure in the Senate, and doubly demonstrative in his ponderous, galumphy performance style. Not a helluva lot of fire in that broad, prosperous belly of his. The image the right wants to sell of Thompson is that of folksy Sheriff Andy Taylor. The reality is more like Griffiths' twisted, down-home Lonesome Rhodes character--shot through with a heapin' helpin' of "Paw" from "The Hillbilly Bears".
And now that reality is even more like that of “The Hillbilly Bears”—an old, slow-paced cartoon, good for a yuk or two, but now pretty much cancelled and soon to be just as much a memory.
I'm kind of sad. Not as much as the drama queen at RedState crying tears over the death of his dream of a Fred-led D.C. Sham-a-Lot, but sad at the apparent loss of a rich, but slow-moving target like Fred.
I never got the chance to set his shameless bleat for reaction from a captive, half-asleep crowd to the tune of The Four Seasons' “Beggin” like I wanted to, or mash up one of his speeches with a fine “Paw Rugg” soliloquy on YouTube.
But in the end, all it means is that my original take on Fred was dead-on. He was nothing but a joke. A thing to be made sport of and nothing more.
To everyone except Mike Huckabee that is. Fred's staying in the race in South Cackalackky may well have drained just enough votes from Huckabee's Lawdamercy Fever Swamp to derail his campaign—much to the delight of GOP big-wigs who were anxious to geld his campaign with a half-melted spork. Staying in and campaigning as heavily (I use that word ironically) as he did in Jesus-in-my-french-toast territory may have been a calculated final act to aid the party on Fred's part, kicking the NQOCD Huckabee in the nuts—and making it the one fucking impactful bit of effort-giving on his part during his whole non=campaign.
“Thanks for playing, Fred. Johnny, what's our lovely parting gift?
“Why...Sominex! Imagine that!”
Which leaves us with three so-called “major” candidates in the GOP. Mitt Romney—the wooden suit-hanger that breathes and is reviled for triangulating more than a Phil Jackson offense, John McCain—who may actually be hated even more by GOP hardballers than Romney.
And of course, the next most popular Republican candidate in terms of actual votes, R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-
And then it's Rudolph W. (and the “W” stands for “What a fucking waste of time”) Giuliani, and his own turn at a Southern Waterloo, the Florida primary in nine (as in “9-11's where it's at, babeee!”) days. The one hanging precariously and greasy-handed off the side of a quivering bubble of hope.
How sweet the irony and justice were Rudy, an actual bastard former U.S. attorney to suffer the same fate as Fred Thompson—fellow candidate and fictional brother-in-judiciary-arms in getting his lazy ass bounced from the presidential ring once and for all.
And yes, Fred Thompson's campaign goldfish-float did indeed move me to think of Vanity Six. Although to be frank, it really doesn't take much to move me to think of the lovely Prince-powered, one-hit winders. I mean, look at this dude again:
Can you fucking blame me?