Thursday, July 19, 2007

TNR on Thompson's Masculine Mystique

The New Republic has a cover story about Fred Thompson in this week’s upcoming issue. They say that Thompson’s secret weapon isn’t the Scots-Irish connection, but instead his “masculine mystique.” Naturally, they give Fred the Leader short shrift and Fred the Actor kudos:

To watch Thompson work a crowd like this is to glimpse the primordial roots of the Fred Fever currently gripping the GOP. Part of the appeal is obvious: A well-known actor, Thompson carries with him an inherent star quality that cannot be overestimated in our celebrity-obsessed culture. Moreover, after years of portraying a particular type of folksy authority figure, Thompson gives voters the sense that they already know who he is and what sort of leader he would be. Conversely, as a still relatively unknown political commodity, the candidate has a touch of the blank-slate phenomenon working for him, allowing savior-hungry Republicans to project onto him whichever personal and ideological traits they most desire. Underlying all of this, however, is an even more primal allure: In any given situation, Fred Thompson fundamentally seems like more of a man than anyone else around him.

If there's one thing conservatives are obsessed with these days, it's manliness. Saddled with a president they once cheered as a kick-ass cowboy but have come to scorn as weak on everything from immigration to government spending, Republicans are desperate for a competent, confident champion to make them feel good about themselves again. As Rudy Giuliani recently told a crowd of Delaware supporters,
"What we're lacking is strong, aggressive, bold leadership like we had with Ronald Reagan."

Enter Fred Thompson. More than anyone in the field--more than Giuliani, more than John McCain, and certainly more than the altogether-too-well-coiffed Mitt Romney--Thompson exudes old-school masculinity.
Along with the burly build, he has the rumbling baritone, the low-key self-assurance, and the sense of gravitas honed by years as a character actor playing Important Men.
In Thompson's presence (live or on-screen), one is viscerally, intimately reassured that he can handle any crisis that arises, be it a renegade Russian sub or a botched rape case.

Here is TNR’s conclusion:

[T]he lure of [Fred's] manly charms should not be underestimated. As Bob Davis, a former Thompson staffer now chairing the Tennessee Republican Party, puts it, "When you put your children to bed at night, and you're laying your head down on your pillow, this is a guy people would trust to protect their backside no matter what happened."

This is an especially potent lure with the Republican Party feeling so lost and fragile. Just last month, former Thompson sweetie Lorrie Morgan predicted to the Sunday Times of London that Thompson will prove irresistible to women voters: "He's majestic. He's a soft, safe place to be, and that could be Fred's ticket. Women love a soft place to lay and a strong pair of hands to hold us." Team Thompson is betting that, these days, the same may be said of the entire GOP.

Ed. note: There's a bit of Michelle Cottle's backhand in her compliments, but I think she's probably on to something. I was particularly struck by Lorrie Morgan's comments.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fred's Senate Archives Get MSM Scrutiny

CBS is looking at Fred Thompson’s Senatorial papers housed at UT. Yet another sign of the scrutiny the candidate will face. And yet another reason AppalachianPresident needs to work hard to get out all the positive aspects of Fred Thompson’s rural roots and connections.

LA Times Story on Fred's Alleged Ties to Abortion Lobby Disputed by Prominent Christian Leaders

It appears that the MSM attack on Fred Thompson has just made him stronger. Now he's got Gary Bauer taking up for him. Futher, as Rathergate proved, when conservative candidates get fired upon by the liberal media, it only makes them stronger in conservative voters' eyes.

See story here:

Could Fred's Scots-Irish Connections Be His Secret Weapon?

I’m sure this topic will get lots of play as time goes on; particularly if Fred is in the Republican nominee. It appears the name Thompson could be either English or Scottish. The preponderance of evidence found on a quick Google search indicates it’s a Scottish name. On the other hand, Bradley, his mother’s maiden name, appears to be English.

Regardless of the specific origins of his ancestors, Thompson was raised in a state where one in five citizens could trace their origins to Scots-Irish settlers coming from Virginia. In the rugged areas like the Appalachian Mountains and the foothills where Fred was raised, the ratio is likely higher.

The Scots-Irish were the poorest of the poor whites who settled that rugged country. They faced a hard life on these rugged frontiers where mass agriculture and the protection and comforts of town life were seldom seen. They had to eke a life out of the soil and face down hostile natives all the while. But history had prepared them for this kind of challenge. Prior to 1607 the Scots-Irish were simply Scots. They lived in the border regions between Scotland and England and were subject to raids by soldiers from both sides. As often happens in frontier areas, the borderlands became a wild country plagued by crime and violence. This forced the Scots to become self sufficient and to develop their own form of justice.

In 1607, shortly after becoming King of a united Scotland and England, King James VI (the 1st in Scotland) was having trouble with the rebellious Irish who didn’t appreciate being ruled over by the English. James decided to create a buffer zone between the Irish and the British. His tool: the wily border Scots who were cajoled into leaving their borderland homes in return for plum properties in North Ireland. Of course the price tag for those properties was fighting. But the Scots (now Scots-Irish) were used to that.

Around the end of the 17th century, after building the provinces of Ulster Ireland into a viable community, the Scots-Irish grew tired of being used as muscle by the English and being treated as second class citizens to boot. So they voted with their feet (again) and this time moved to America where they fled inland to remote communities- partly out of poverty (rugged areas plagued by Indians were cheaper) and partly out of a desire to get away from those damned uppity English.

In short order this rugged people had imprinted their culture on a wide swath of southern states. Men like Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston (all three of whom spent their formative years in central and eastern TN) became national political leaders and symbols of a rugged and democratic America. By the 19th and 20th centuries, these southern states had become the seed beds that populated the western states.

So what does all this have to do with the Presidential election? Simple, the Scots-Irish today constitute approximately 30 million Americans. That’s one tenth of the U.S. population. According to Jim Webb (a terrific story teller despite being a jerk as a Senator, IMHO):

The Scots-Irish comprised a large percentage of Reagan Democrats, and contributed heavily to the "red state" votes that gave Mr. Bush the presidency in 2000. The areas with the highest Scots-Irish populations include New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, northern Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, northern Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, southern Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and parts of California, particularly Bakersfield. The "factory belt," especially around Detroit, also has a strong Scots-Irish mix.

In October 2004 Webb called the Scots-Irish George W. Bush’s “Secret Weapon” in the Presidential election. Their relevance has probably not diminished over the past three years; particularly in a GOP primary. And unlike Bush, a Connecticut Yankee in blue jeans and sporting a drawl, Thompson won’t have to fake it. Fred's true blue; probably by ancestry, definitely by culture.

In Senate, Fred Worked to Protect, Promote Great Smoky Mountains

If you've never been to the Smokies, take the family and go sometime. It's beautiful. Make sure you take the winding road that leads from Pigeon Forge, TN to Cherokee, NC. There you'll see God's bounty in its finest majesty.

Today we picked up our first contributor, Tommy Olliver of East TN. Tommy's a member of the research team at and provides this article written by Fred while he was in the Senate in 2001:


Tennessee is fortunate to be the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, often referred to as the crown jewel of the national park system. The Smokies cover over half a million acres and host an astounding variety of plant and animal species. The natural beauty of these mountains and the abundance of recreational opportunities also make the Smokies the nation's most visited national park. Each year the Smokies welcome more visitors than the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks combined.

As a result, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is arguably the nation's most threatened national park. Due to the high number of visitors it receives each year, the Smokies are suffering from extraordinary wear and tear. In addition, air quality problems have landed it on the National Parks Conservation Association's list of the ten most endangered parks in the country for each of the past three years. Most shocking to me is that, according to park officials, air quality in the Smokies is so poor during the summer months that hiking on backcountry trails is more hazardous to your health than walking along the streets of Manhattan.

As chairman of the Great Smoky Mountains Congressional Caucus, I have made addressing the needs of the Smokies a top priority. Too often, the budget debate in Washington focuses on short term needs rather than on long term infrastructure deficiencies such as the neglect of our national park system. I believe the federal government has a fundamental responsibility to ensure the protection of our national parks for future generations to enjoy.

Traffic congestion is contributing to the air quality problems in the Smokies, detracting from the enjoyment of those who visit, and threatening public access. Accordingly, I have cosponsored the Transit in Parks Act, legislation designed to help the Smokies and surrounding communities deal with growing regional transportation problems threatening the park's future. The legislation would create a federal transit program, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and provide $65 million each year for the next six years to develop alternative transportation systems such as light rail, alternative fuel buses, and bicycle and pedestrian pathways. It encourages national parks to work with states and local communities to address these problems and provides federal funding to help implement meaningful solutions.

I am pleased that the Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved $4.7 million to construct a new science research center and laboratory in the park. This facility is part of a national effort to better understand and preserve natural resources and biologically diverse ecosystems, as well as to provide researchers and students with new opportunities to learn more about conservation efforts and threats to our national parks. In addition, $375,000 has been approved by the committee for restoration and repair of 77 pioneer log cabins and more than 100 historic structures throughout the park.

I am hopeful the full Senate will move quickly to approve this funding. We have also requested $300,000 in federal funds to be used in ongoing efforts to monitor ground-level ozone and other air pollutants in the Smokies as part of the East Tennessee Ozone Study.The popularity of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has placed a significant burden on its infrastructure and services. However, I am confident that we are taking important steps toward preserving this national treasure for our children, grandchildren, and the generations to come.

A footnote:

Tommy Oliver, who provided us this article, was born, raised, and lives in Southeast Tennessee. He attended UT Chattanooga, majoring in political science. He spent seven years as an after-school counselor for elementary school children and spent time working in politics on a local level. He is a regular contributor to, and also numerous Thompson related blogs and is a member of the research team at, the original site and forum of the Draft Fred Thompson committee, which encouraged Thompson to join the campaign.

Anonymous Comments Now Allowed

A bit of housekeeping... my apologies, but when I set this blog up I didn't realize that anonymous comments were disabled. I've remedied that now. Feel free to comment. As long as it's not dastardly over the top, it'll stay there.

Should Fred Thompson Rebut John Edwards' Poverty Tour Comments?

This week John Edwards is touring Appalachia to shine a light on the need to “end poverty.” His plan involves lots of government, a deadline decades away, and laudable but unachievable goals. I nominate Fred Thompson to offer the conservative rebuttal. He’s tough, smart and, most importantly, has lived in rural, poverty stricken areas. Further, Thompson's served areas in his state that are very similiar to the rural ones Edwards will visit. Thompson could offer a way whereby poverty could be reduced by less government, not more.