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Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

Big guy's down, little guy's still ticking

Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2008, at 9:36 AM

Don't misunderstand. I respect ex-candidate Fred Thompson as a person and a politician.

But I also highly respect U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, now of the Nashville district but who represented Bedford county in 1994 when he ran for Al Gore's open Senate seat.

Much was made during that campaign of how different the two men are/were. Cooper is short of stature, bookish and was visibly uncomfortable doing the necessary "gladhanding" while Thompson came across as a big ol' good old boy with a tough, dominating image, slapping everyone's back, and driving a pickup truck across the state while speaking with a deep, gruff voice.

Former Gov. Ned McWherter was quoted as saying he felt Cooper's image in comparasion to Thompson made him unelectable.

Fast forward nearly 14 years.

Cooper returned to Congress a few years later with help from a highly creative ad, which poked fun at that image and showed off a family which appeared quite lively, and a weak opponent. Today he's a highly respected difference-maker.

Thompson, who some pundits say was ineffective as a two-term senator, found success on a TV soundstage but seemed unable at times to explain to Republican primary voters exactly why he wanted to be president. The drive just wasn't there. And the image morphed into what I think was an undeserved tag of "lazy." (Maybe he's worn out from helping raise two very young children at age 65...)

Ironically, in a situation where so many candidates often put on an act, the true actor may have been too true to himself.

I suspect we'll hear from Thompson again. He has a lot to offer, whether portraying someone else on-screen or helping our country in real life. Put him in the right position and he'd be effective as a leader, although I'm not sure what that position is.

Now Cooper's in Washington, although in the House chamber instead of the White House. Thompson's in D.C., too -- as a resident. Nothing more.

But in this round, substance wins over style.


Comments
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Former Senator Thompson just basically occupied a seat when he was in the Senate. He sponsored no major legislation or any legislation that I can remember. He was simply very ineffective. I think he thought he was going to enter the Presidential race as the 500 lb. gorilla who would push all other contenders aside. In the end, the voters decided that he was not the answer.

Old Fred projects a very down to earth, homespun charm, but in reality, he is really a Washington insider profiting for many years as a lobbyist. Hey, he's an actor.

It doesn't surprise me that he dropped out of the race--after all, it is hard work. He can go home and take a nap now.

-- Posted by volfanatic on Wed, Jan 23, 2008, at 10:05 AM

Fred did not like being in the senate. It wasn't the hard work (just ask some of his staffers), he hated the pace and the meaningless stuff that goes on in any legislative body. I think the fact that he was essentially drafted into the race by the party's right (or federalist) wing left him with little time to put together an effective campaign. He also had contract obligations with NBC that left him coming in late. Not a great recipe for a successful run. That and the fact his mother fell very ill in the last two weeks in Nashville left us where we are.

As far as his time in the senate no senator really does that much in the first few years. He did write an extensive paper on government waste that was probably the "go to" reference for several years. He also co-chaired the senate investigation in to China's influence in the Clinton administration. The other chair was John Glenn. Glenn was pretty obstructionist when Fred would try to pursue a lead during the investigation. Glenn later bumped an astronaut on a shuttle mission and became the world's oldest astronaut at the request of the White House. Draw your own conclusions.

Anyway we're left with what we have. The party's Reagan federalist wing is left to struggle once again.

-- Posted by Tim Baker on Wed, Jan 23, 2008, at 10:52 AM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.