Skip to comments.Humphrey: Does Fred Thompson need a 'coonskin cap?
Posted on 08/25/2007 10:48:08 PM PDT by SmithL
Tennessee voters have often exhibited a fondness for political symbols Estes Kefauvers coonskin cap or Lamar Alexanders plaid shirt, for a couple of historical examples that havent always played well to a national audience.
This is something that Fred Thompson may want to consider as Tennessee fans urge him to climb back into his famous red pickup truck for a presidential campaign, as reported last week by the Associated Press. Right now, its parked and rusting at his moms house.
Of course, he first might want to consider making a decision on whether to run. But Thompson fans figure thats just a formality.
And, come to think of it, some guy who is decidedly not a fan (and not from Tennessee, either) apparently has the same opinion, filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission to contend that the actors actions amount to a bona fide candidacy, not just testing the waters. That would be a violation of federal election rules.
As a practical matter, by the time the FEC gets around to investigating and acting on such a complaint, the 2008 campaign will be history. So we might as well move on to the serious matter of symbols or, some might say, gimmicks.
Back in the late 1940s, E.H. Boss Crump, head of a Memphis-based political machine, took out newspaper ads attacking Kefauver as a communist sympathizer and depicting him as a furtive cartoon creature bearing some resemblance to a raccoon maybe crossed with a weasel.
Whereupon Kefauver went to Memphis and famously declared, I may be a pet coon, but Im not Boss Crumps pet coon. And thereafter, the coonskin cap became Kefauvers symbol.
It worked great in Tennessee. He was elected to the U.S. Senate over the Crump candidate and went on to some fame at the national level, including the Democratic nomination as vice president in 1956.
But the coonskin cap didnt play all that well in Washington and elsewhere beyond the Volunteer states borders. The way some tell it, the cap was used to depict Kefauver as something of a backwoods bumpkin.
The bespectacled senator, rather scholarly in appearance, did not exactly mesh with the image of Davy Crockett, later famously depicted with coonskin cap by actor Fess Parker.
A couple of decades later, Alexander having lost one race for governor after being depicted by critics as a rather elitist stuffed shirt donned a red-and-black plaid shirt to create a new image as a regular guy.
Tennessee voters loved it, and he walked across the state to victory in his second gubernatorial try.
Then Alexander tried to take plaid national, running for president and putting an exclamation point behind his first name Lamar! for further exciting image enhancement.
In steps along the presidential way, national media types hooted and made jokes about the Paul Bunyan shirt or lumberjack candidate. Alexander, stung by the criticism, ditched the shirt, but it was too late. The plaid presidency was not to be.
Thompson who, like Alexander, had Tom Ingram as a symbolic presidential adviser also had an image problem when he launched a Senate campaign in the early 1990s. That is, he came across as a silk-stocking Washington insider lobbyist and lawyer.
So he put on a pair of cowboy boots and blue jeans and swapped his Lincoln Continental for a red Chevy pickup. (Initially, it was rented.) He was a good ole country boy now, and Tennessee voters, naturally, loved him. Thompson won in a near landslide.
His adoring Tennessee fans, while rushing to donate money to his current quasi-campaign, figure all Thompson needs to do is to hop into a pickup truck and start touring the country.
There was thus a bit of consternation, if not dismay, when Fox News recently showed Thompson touring the Iowa State Fair in a golf cart, wearing Gucci loafers. Ooops. You can almost hear the cry: Bring back the pickup!
Granted, a red pickup would surely present a better Fredish image than a golf cart. But it could also have a downside. Just the logistics of national Thompson trucking would be formidable.
More significantly, though, a pickup would likely be seen as an obvious gimmick by every celebrity comic and commentator in the nation, who thereupon would try to outdo one another and the blogging bunch in ridicule.
As in, Fred Thompsons redneck gas-guzzler campaign stalled today in River City. And so on. Sad to say, but those out-of-state folks would be bound to prove they wont fall for the same stuff sold to those Tennessee bumpkins.
But, if he goes ahead with the idea, he might as well wear a plaid shirt and a coonskin hat.
And the bumper sticker on the back should read: Fred!
What a truly a worthless piece of bunkum.
Say what you want about Tennessee voters. They were smart enough to tell algore to take a hike.
If he won his own home state there would have been no need to count hanging and pregnant chads in Florida in 2000.
In retrospect, I shudder about how history might have been different.
I’ve got me a cousin from Tennessee, and the last time she shot herself a ‘coon she done took out an endangermated species.
I gots to call her, but for some reason the rates are cheaper on the weekends.
Just wait til this gets on back to the trailer...
The Vols figured out Algore wasn’t one of them. Never had been.
Fred’s message, his appeal to the voter base is definitely trust, down home honesty, wisdom — someone who doesn’t put on airs. Someone who’ll tell the truth even if we’re reluctant to hear it. No nuancing, no PC baloney. These days, the world is small and incredibly dangerous, and we can’t stick our heads in the sand and hope Jihadists will discover they’d rather sell Avon than blow up NY. If we abandon Iraq, enemies won’t be content to follow us home and open up a Quickie-mart, they’ll nuke NY or smalltown Idaho. Fred needs to be himself, that man we saw in the Moore video, and he needs to do this 24/7. (Let’s see Hillary counter in jeans. Hip huggers and a bare navel.)
This Tennessee voter thanks you. It is also notible that we sent Harold Ford, Jr. home in the last Senatorial election, and the Tennessee Waltz corruption sting has resulted in numerous guilty pleas for bribes and other corruption by State Legislators. It's a long row to hoe, but Tennessee is slowly cleaning up the corruption of it's politico's at both the State and Federal level, but there is a LOT more to do....
FWIW, I saw the first Thompson '08 bumper sticker yesterday......
(Lets see Hillary counter in jeans. Hip huggers and a bare navel.)
I hope you realize that you just ruined my breakfast.
Eeeewww, I just grossed myself out.
(Lets see Hillary counter in jeans. Hip huggers and a bare navel.)
Just show up at a NASCAR race every once in a while and you'll win in a walk.
I’d rather see Al Gore in a skunk suit ...
Bucktoothed Viszlas? Zsa Zsa would not be amused!