Fred Gets It

If there's anyone that understands how to make use of the Internet, and more specifically the blogosphere, it appears to be Fred Thompson. Between his use of web video to respond to Michael Moore, regular columns and posts in various web venues, he's doing a good job laying the groundwork for a possible presidential run. A number of people are noticing, including Peggy Noonan.

Having watched the second Republican debate the other night, it's clear to me the subject today is Fred Thompson, the man who wasn't there. While the other candidates bang away earnestly in a frozen format, Thompson continues to sneak up from the creek and steal their underwear--boxers, briefs and temple garments.

He is running a great campaign. It's just not a declared campaign. It's a guerrilla campaign whose informality is meant to obscure his intent. It has been going on for months and is aimed at the major pleasure zones of the Republican brain. In a series of pointed columns, commentaries and podcasts, Mr. Thompson has been talking about things conservatives actually talk about. Shouldn't homeowners have the right to own a gun? Isn't it bad that colleges don't teach military history? How about that Sarkozy--good news, isn't it? Did you see Tenet on Russert? His book sounds shallow, tell-all-y.

These comments and opinions are being read and forwarded in Internet Nation. They are revealing and interesting, but they're not heavy, not homework. They have an air of "This is the sound of a candidate thinking." That's an unusual sound.

Not that Peggy didn't also point out some problems that Fred may have, but she realizes that he is making the right moves in his low level “non-campaign.”

One of his direct posts in Pajamas Media talks about how the web can make or break a candidate and can bring some reality to potential candidates.

It seems that I ought to respond, at least briefly, to all those who have expressed confidence in me — both here and in other forums. I do not take that confidence lightly.

The Pajamas Media poll is certainly good news, especially when, for a lot of politicians, encouragement to run from three relatives and an unemployed campaign consultant is considered an unstoppable groundswell. When people are saying nice things about me, I try to remember the proverb that compares flattery to a net at your feet. To be sure, the Pajamas poll results are very flattering, so let me return the favor and throw a net at your feet.

Whether or not the Internet can elect any particular candidate in any particular race, it’s clear that all of you and our many friends across the blogosphere and the Web are part of a true information revolution. That’s why so much of my effort has been focused on talking to Americans through this medium. By empowering individuals and building communities, the Internet provides a way of going around the inside-the-beltway crowd to reach people in numbers unheard of not that long ago.

Will this be a new path to the White House? Maybe, at least if there are no major stumbles along the way. This could be far more important than the members of the Old Media may realize. Or it could be far less, particularly if the 'new' media blows it and becomes an echo of the Old Media.

Thompson shows that he understands the problems of the existing partisan divide in the US and cites a couple of examples from our past that illustrate how others have put partisanship aside for the greater good. It's a shame that our present Congress can't seem to show the same kind of magnanimity as their predecessors.

It's going to be interesting over the next few months to see how presidential that Fred Thompson can present himself. It's quite possible that he'll be able to shoot right past Rudy McRomney once he announces.

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