Skip to comments.Some view Thompson as next 'Great Communicator'
Posted on 08/18/2007 9:21:51 PM PDT by SmithL
WASHINGTON Hes an actor-turned-politician in the mode of Ronald Reagan, someone whos at ease in front of a camera or a crowd, a man who can charm an audience with a folksy tale or a clever turn of phrase.
But is Fred Thompson truly Reaganesque?
Reagan was, after all, the Great Communicator, a leader so skilled at connecting with his subjects that he has become the standard by which all would-be presidents are judged.
Thompsons admirers, elated over his expected decision to seek the Republican nomination for president, already are hailing his candidacy as the second coming of Reagan.
The former Tennessee senator, an ex-prosecutor who plays a stern district attorney on the television crime drama Law and Order, is expected to officially enter the race sometime next month.
Like Reagan, Thompson believes in smaller government and fiscal conservatism.
But lets put aside politics for a minute and focus on the other trait he shares with the last actor who was elected president an innate ability to communicate, to tell a story in a way that captures the publics attention.
Both men come across as strong, authoritative figures on stage and screen. Their speaking voices are fluent and resonant, though vastly different. Reagans was smooth, mellow, grandfatherly. Thompsons is deep, gruff, sometimes gravelly. Both men were blessed with the gift of gab and a flair for spinning a good yarn.
But is Thompson Reagans equal as a communicator?
Thompson does have the Reagan touch, said John Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Thompson is at ease with the camera, Geer said. Certainly, Reagan was at ease with the camera. Second, at least from what I can see so far, Thompson, when he decides to be critical of somebody or question them, he does it in a way that has less of an edge to it than a lot of current politicians, and I think that is also Reaganesque.
In some ways, though, Thompson seems less like the Gipper and more like Sheriff Andy Taylor of the old Andy Griffith Show, Geer said.
He has this kind of disarming quality about him, where he tries to use folksy kind of metaphors just like Taylor did, Geer said. But at the same time, Taylor was the most wily (man) in that entire city. Thompson is very smart as well, so he has this old country boy kind of routine that I think serves him pretty well.
Clark Judge, who worked as a speechwriter for Reagan in the White House, also sees a little of Reagan in Thompson.
Thompson has a very solid, reassuring presence at a podium and before a camera, Judge said. He comes across as someone you trust a lot. Look at him on some of his TV speeches, responses to State of the Union, that sort of thing. Hes very much someone whos talking to you.
One of Reagans greatest attributes, at least as an orator, was his ability to take written text and give it additional meaning, Judge said.
For me, it was very, very different listening to Reagan before I started working for him and then listening to him when he was delivering text that I had actually written, Judge said. He would find meaning in the text and bring it out through his delivery.
Judge said he doesnt know whether Thompson has that talent because hes never written for him. But, Thompson is a very effective communicator, which is one reason he has moved up so fast (in the polls), Judge said.
Others are less impressed by Thompsons oratory skills.
Hes no Reagan, said John Kares Smith, a professor of communications at State University of New York in Oswego, an expert in presidential and political communication and a devotee of Thompsons television show.
Ronald Reagan had an ability and a real underestimated skill of being able to touch very deep-held American myths and beliefs, Smith said. When he would talk about the city on the hill, he really could resonate with our puritan past. Fred Thompson, I dont think he has any of those skills at all.
Thompson just doesnt connect the way Reagan did, Smith said. Reagan had maybe three ideas, and everybody knew what they were. He knew people. He had a wonderful sense of humor. Fred Thompson is not known for his humor.
Reagan also was the eternal optimist and, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, used his speeches to raise peoples spirits, said David E. Johnson, a political consultant in Atlanta who worked on Bob Doles presidential campaign in 1988.
That was Reagans whole persona, Johnson said. Thats what his greatness was, very much like Jack Kennedy. Thompson, on the other hand, is more a just the facts type of person. He doesnt lift to the oratorical lengths that Reagan or Roosevelt did or even Bill Clinton did.
As evidence, Johnson cited a speech that Thompson gave to a group of Republicans last May. Some complained that the address, Thompsons first as a prospective presidential candidate, was downright disappointing.
But whether Thompson can live up to the Reagan legend may be beside the point. He doesnt have to be a Reagan clone to win the GOP nomination, Judge said.
The real issue, Judge said, is how he compares to the rest of the field.
“Folksy Fred...” Bob Dole redux.
This just in: Mitt Romney is a more effective communicator of the factors involved in executive decision making than any candidate — for a long time — including Ronald Reagan (who was likely better with political philosophy and emotional leadership).
These types of articles serve no purpose other than to create animosity among FReepers.
he should communicate better with us. like, is he going to run or not?
it will take a republican greater than Reagan to win in 08. Anyone see one on the horizon? Didn’t think so. Mirages can be very misleading.
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Fred Thompson will advance through the campaign process on his own merits. He is a good communicator and a good conservative. If conservatives like what they hear from Fred, he’ll win the nomination. FredT maybe Reaganesque, I don’t see him being Reagan-like. Enough already. There was only one Ronald Reagan.
Well, we just don’t know that yet, do we?
Let’s wait and see how it all plays out.
Right. When the time comes, you can write in Alan Keyes name. LOL
Reagan had better hair
Fred's response to Michael Moore showed he has a great sense of (biting) humor, and knows how to use it.
Come on, now, you know perfectly well, at this stage, he can’t come out and say the words.
Fred epitomizes my political beliefs, and desired political style. I’m backing him...win, lose, or draw.
If the nomination goes to someone other than FRed, Hunter, or Tancredo, I sit at home and eat popcorn while watching reruns.
“Reagan had better hair”
Reagan had hair! LOL
That won't get anyone, including Mitt, elected.
One way in which Fred reminds me of Dutch is that both men understand that for a conservative to be elected President he must build a broad coalition. Pro-life, pro-2A, pro-Constitution, pro-sovereignty, pro-defense, federalist, limited-government, supply-side, low-tax, pro-family, pro-faith; we need EVERYBODY pulling at the oars together to keep the ship moving. I just don’t think Rudy, Mitt or McCain could ever pull this off. I hope that Fred can.
I’ll vote for fred if he’s the nominee.
I’m not so sure that he’ll be the nominee.
I agree. It’s almost like watching Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. On the other hand...On the other hand....On the other hand.