December 30, 2007

Awesome Thompson: Playing for Higher Stakes

In retrospect, one of the things that may strike people about the Fred Thompson campaign iis his contrariness—his unwillingness to "go along to get along."

I think he's trying to bring a new paradigm to political communication; one of the singular characteristics of his presence in public life is his unwillingness to play, as The Anchoress puts it, "the games that have overtaken US political campaigns. She adds, "he’s intent on holding the press—and maybe all of us—to a higher standard than we’ve become used to."

Via Hackbarth (who does a lot of blogging on the official Fred campaign site) comes Thompson's message directly to Iowans themselves:

Several things strike me about this video: (1) It is on the long side, in a good way—10 or 15 minutes, I believe [though I did not time it]. This is no conventional political ad. Thompson is not afraid to give all the reasons he feels he'll do the best job of both governing the country and winning the general election in order to accomplish that. No sound bites. None.

Also, (2) Fred struck a deft balance between criticizing the Bush administration and suggesting he'll continue the positive aspects of its legacy. He made sure to underscore the fact that the current Congress' approval ratings are even lower than Bush's are. (He didn't quite spell the statistics out, but alluded to the negative numbers; to anyone who's been paying attention, it will be clear enough.) The telling points: he mentioned Bush and Rice calling him up to consult with him—thereby setting up a link between himself and the things people voted for when they re-elected Bush in 2004—but he stated very clearly that he would communicate positively with the American people about what he would do as their leader. The obvious contrast was with G.W. Bush's, um, lackdaisical approach to selling/explaining his policies and decisions. Thompson is obviously claiming he'll do better on than critical score.

(3) There was at least one Southern colloquialism in the speech, which was a nice touch. It was "we might could," or one of those similiar constructions one hears only in Texas and the South. That sort of thing doesn't happen by accident from someone as cosmopolitan as the Fredster. More than the Bush/Carter use of "nucular," it sets Thompson up as an outside-the-beltway kind of guy—at least on a cultural level. Also, it doesn't nauseate most of the rest of us the way "nucular" does.

(4) Tedious as it was to hear Thompson mention Reagan's name—because I've been listening to political speeches for a year now, and I'm bored with the traditional allusion to The Gipper—I didn't think it was inappropriate in this particular case, because what Reagan was able to do more than nearly any other President in history was bypass the media. And furthermore, he did it in the age before blogs and YouTube.

Thompson clearly has more tools at his command, but his message to the legacy media is essentially one we've been waiting to hear for a couple of decades: "FY, NQ." ("Fuck you, next question": a phrase usually credited to the crew over at Ace of Spades HQ.)

Posted by Attila Girl at December 30, 2007 06:39 PM | TrackBack

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