Is it just me, or did the Bloomberg "news" service just release a hit piece on Senator Fred Thompson disguised as a bio on the Senator just in time for a Michael Bloomberg entrance into the race as an independent presidential candidate? On June 28th Bloomberg writers Kim Chapman and Julianna Goldman brought us "Thompson's Backers Check His 'Fire in the Belly' for 2008 Race", a piece that reads more like a long series of snide undercuts of Thompson than any serious report on his status as a candidate. The duo exploits every single detraction thrown at the Senator since his days in the Senate leaving the speculation that he is left wanting standing like the elephant in the room.
They begin by making Thompson's whole life seem like one undeserved, happy accident after another saying that the man has "ascended without much apparent effort" to his place in life. It doesn't seem to occur to our two intrepid reporterettes that making something seem effortless doesn't necessarily mean it was so. After all, Fred Thompson did at the very least pass the bar exam, not something so easily done by just anyone. (Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley, for instance, took the bar exam 5 times before he passed and his daddy, Richard J. Daley, was the most corrupt and powerful man since Huey Long and could easily have fenagled his son's sudden passing grades if he'd have wanted to, fer gosh sakes!) Someone should inform our feminine cynics that it is usually a mark of excellence when someone makes something look easy, not one of accidental "ascendance."
And, of course, they drive for the he's-just-an-actor convention by constantly using acting phrases to "cast" Thompson into a less serious light. After this "casting" call for the candidate, they run straight at the ridiculous "fire in his belly" detraction that has been bandied about to lead folks to imagine that Thompson is too lazy or noncommittal about really running for president. "The question, some of them say, is whether he wants it badly enough to endure the rigors of a campaign," the girls drone on prosaically covering the well-trod ground of so many others.
So far our two girl scribblers might be accused of being lazy themselves for not finding a single new or interesting thing to say in their piece about Thompson. It's amazing it took two of them to come up with this thing, I gotta tell you.
Next, they use the vocal support for Thompson that Howard Baker is known to have to make it seem as if Thompson is being pushed against his own will into a run for the White House. This makes Thompson seem weak enough to be cajoled by others into doing something he doesn't want to do, making him seem easily led, and again raises that possible lack of "fire" to see it all through. Neither would be a quality that would befit a presidential candidate, and that is precisely why the girls are promulgating this concept.
The girls go on to report that Thompson "declined" their requests for an interview, and with the hatchet job they are doing so far, that was a good decision it is obvious. I am sure they imagined someone else made Thompson's decision for him once it became clear he wasn't going to play their game, naturally.
Following that, our Kim and Julianna attempt to make Thompson seem manufactured with their discussion of his original campaign to replace Al Gore in the Senate in 1994. When Fred realized his true self was not getting through to his voters, he jettisoned the staid "politician" image and revealed his real self in the campaign, a move that easily won him his seat. Thompson ditched the suits and put on his comfortable blue jeans and canvassed his possible district in a red pick-up truck showing his bona fides to the potential voter base. The voters loved it and sent him to Washington.
Now, none of that seems very "lazy" to me. Thompson took charge of a consultant laden campaign and made it his own, turning it around and leading himself to victory ... and driving thousands of miles in the process. But here we have our girlie reporters going from the charge that Fred is lazy to one that he managed "his image" seemingly too zealously as if he was just creating a new "role" to act his way through. So, is he too lazy or too busy "manufacturing" an image, girls? The two charges seem fundamentally at odds with each other, I'd say.
So far the whole report seems to damn the Senator with faint praise at every turn. He's just lucky, he's lazy, he's manufactured and fake. What next, will they say Thompson says mean things about Santa Clause and the Toothfairy?
Well, maybe not any such ill will for fairies is envisioned because they instead go for his supposed "lackluster record of legislative achievement" while in the Senate. So, I wonder if we can find Bloomberg's imprinteur on any story discussing the many failures of Senator Clinton or the completely empty record of Barack Obama, both Senators with "lackluster" records in the Senate? My guess would be that a "no" is our answer to that one.
Then, our feminine pen wielders swerve back to the he-has-no-fire line of attack with a, "Some also wondered whether he had the drive required for political combat."
Of course, the girls go for the lobbying angle against the Senator, as well.
Many who support his presidential run now say Thompson's walking away from politics for a few years may work in his favor by reinforcing his image as a Washington outsider.
That message may need to be fine-tuned: Thompson, who long divided his time between Nashville and Washington when he worked as a lawyer and lobbyist, no longer has a house in Tennessee.
Alert, alert. Thompson is an eeeevil lobbyist -- last I checked, a legal and legitimate job. After all, lobbyists are representing industries that we all work for and are, in the end, representing us, too. But, I guess that John Edwards' absurd claims to represent the "other" America -- you know, that poorer one that can barely afford $400 haircuts -- is legit, eh?
The pair end their faux report with a swipe at Fred's ego, as if no man with an ego has ever run for the office of president, I suppose.
In the end, Thompson may find the prospect of a turn in the world's brightest spotlight too tempting to pass up. High-school friends and teachers in Lawrenceburg recall that Thompson showed an early hunger for public affirmation, particularly on the football field.
So, the bluster of a teenager is to be held against the desires for service evinced by the adult here, ladies?
In this report, of COURSE it is.
So, lets go over all the charges made in this hatchet job. Thompson has skated through life with everyone giving him everything on an undeserved and unearned silver platter, he is "just an actor", he is lazy, he has no "fire" for the campaign, he is manufactured and fake, he is an evil lobbyist, and he has an outsized ego.
And there you have it, folks; fair and balanced reporting from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's faux news service. And the whole time I read this mudslinging all I could say was, "is THAT all you've got?"
But remember, Bloomie isn't a candidate, either!
... and if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell ya.
One last thing I wonder about, though. Is it a good bet that Chapman and Goldman got a little sumpthin' in their pay envelopes after filing this little Thompson mudslinger for their boss Michael Bloomberg of Bloomberg L.P.? Or maybe that's a bit too cynical of me?