Posted by: Amelia | September 11, 2007

Citizen Fred: The Über-Everyman

Is “über-everyman” a contradiction in terms?  I don’t know, but it certainly seems to be what Fred Thompson is going for.  Michael Scherer has a piece in yesterday’s Salon dissecting Fred Thompson’s campaign rhetoric, which included this illustrative quote:

“Let’s get right to the chase,” [Thompson] told a crowd in Sioux City on Friday. “The main question that you have a right to know from me is why I’m running for president. And the answer is pretty simple. I’m just like you are.”

The Scherer piece mostly focuses on Thompson’s professed lack of any previous presidential ambition, but that quote in particular tripped a wire in my brain.  Back in 1996, a pre-Daily Show Jon Stewart had an HBO special in which he talked about Bob Dole, then the Republican candidate for President:

STEWART: Why is it that whenever somebody wants to be elected, suddenly they become us?  Suddenly they want to be played as the common man.  Bob Dole’s been in the Senate for 35 years – he wants to be president, and now he’s…

STEWART (AS BOB DOLE): Citizen Bob!  I’m the common man, I’m just like you.

STEWART:  You go to Hooters?  Wow!  Don’t be the common man, be better than us!  You want to be President?  Be better than us.  Lead us!  We don’t know shit, we’ve been swept away by the Macarena, what the fuck do we know?  Be better than us!

Our candidates do need to be accessible, and they do need to understand the problems of everyday Americans.  But Bush has shown that choosing a President based on who you would want to have a beer with is a pretty bad idea.  Of course, it’s Reagan’s mantle that Thompson is most trying to inherit, but even there he falls short.  I hate to compliment Reagan, but the man had more charisma, name recognition, and political experience than Fred Thompson will ever possess.  The un-emperor has no clothes, people.

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