NEW YORK – Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) says he's just testing the waters. But, his coy Leno appearance and surging poll numbers point to his potential as the new Republican showrunner. The Brandwagon believes that his sleepy-eyed Southern charm, deep voice, steady political opines – and burgeoning Christian Right props – mark him as the new man to beat in 2008. Perhaps this is why supra-conservative pundit George F. Will decided to take a preemptive first strike on the patriarchal former U.S. Attorney/Watergate Co-Counsel/Lobbyist/Actor/U.S. Senator in his weekly Newsweek intelli-screed.
The wrath of Will is an important nuance for American political junkies. Conservatives are frustrated Bush's management of the Republican Party. As the early days of tax cuts gave way to unfettered earmarks, unmanageable foreign conflict, and nationa erosion of public confidence in the Republican Party's ability to perform, Conservatives hanker for the halcyon days of Ronald Wilson Reagan. Is Sen. Thompson the "Papa Bear" that Conservatives crave? Maybe.
However, Sen. Thompson faces some serious challenges in his quest for the world's most exclusive address. First, the front-loaded primaries require the quick development of comprehensive political infrastructures in very expensive states. Second, a near-term decision by the potential candiate to stake his claim and get in the race in order to build a national team. And finally, the Thompson "campaign" will need to define the good senator's "brand" with all deliberate speed. While Sen. Thompson is almost always referred to as "Law and Order actor Fred Thompson," Reagan campaigned as the Governor of California. Sen. Thompson needs to take some advice from the Great Communicator, set the T.V. persona aside and re-emphasize his fourteen years of public service, and make a concerted effort to play down his better-than-Reagan Hollywood résumé.