It's said that in life, timing is everything. And it could be that former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson's entry into the 2008 presidential race, expected in early September, will prove to be timed perfectly.
According to a just released poll from the Pew Research Center, 52 percent of Americans have a negative reaction to the presidential campaign thus far and only 19 percent have anything positive to say. And the main complaint of the disgruntled 52 percent is that the campaign simply started too early.
This could be Thompson's "rope-a-dope." Recall this maneuver of Muhammad Ali's in his famous "rumble in the jungle" in Zaire with then heavyweight champion George Foreman. Ali leaned back on the ropes in the early rounds, his forearms up covering his face, and let Foreman pound himself to exhaustion. Ali then stepped up, fresh and strong, and knocked Foreman out.
Thompson has been sitting on the sidelines while the large field of announced candidates on both sides have been traipsing from debate to debate in a campaign begun earlier than ever.
When Thompson announces next month and formally enters the race, his timing alone might be appreciated by a public wondering why they have been forced to start listening to candidates more than a year and half before they'll go to the polls to vote.
In a Washington Post poll done last week, only one in five Republicans say they are "very satisfied" with their candidates. And although the Democratic field is more settled (almost half of Democrats say they are "very satisfied" with their candidates), the negative ratings for their front runner and likely nominee, Sen. Hillary Clinton, remain at almost 50 percent.
So, Fred Thompson, a seasoned actor, may really know how to respond on cue. With Act One, Scene One played out, he may enter the stage in Scene Two and wake up the audience.
And, from what the Washington Post's David Broder reports, it may be more than just timing that wakes up this audience.
According to Broder, who reports on a two hour interview he just did with Thompson, the ex-senator and actor is going to be bold. He's got a nice life as a star in the popular "Law and Order" TV series, a beautiful young wife and young children, and is not running for president out of some ego-driven need.
He is stepping up to the plate out of a sense that there are things that need to be said that aren't being said, and that, if elected, he'll have a shot at getting these things done.
Anyone who has been reading what I have written these last few months knows my incredulity that the massive entitlements crisis facing this nation has not been part of the campaign discussion. It's been like hearing the social director of the Titanic announce shuffleboard times as the ship is going down.
It sounds like Thompson is ready to put the facts on the table before the American public and, yes, fasten your seatbelts, tell the truth.
He's going to talk about Medicare and Social Security and what we need to do to tighten our belts and get our lives back under control. And he's going to talk about national security and weigh in as a traditional values candidate.
This kind of honesty and candor is only possible with a candidate for whom the truth is more important than the job. And it sounds like Fred is ready.
Clinton, who in all likelihood will be the Democratic nominee, has just released her first campaign ad. In the short video, she lays out her cards about what her campaign will be about.
First, she'll run against George Bush. Second, she'll tell the American people they can rely on her to fix their problems. According to her ad, we're all "invisible" to the Bush administration.
The ad couldn't help but remind me of an exchange that occurred at the time when Clinton was making her first push at Hillary-care during her husband's administration. It took place between then Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, and Paul Starr, who was one of the crafters of the Clinton plan to nationalize health care.
Starr was pitching the government-as-mother-hen view of the world that defined Hillary then and, as evident in her new ad, defines her now.
Gramm said to Starr, "Don't tell me that you care as much about my grandchildren's health care as I do." Starr replied, "Excuse me, senator. But I do care about your grandchildren's health care." Gramm then rejoined, "Then tell me, what are their names."
No, Senator Clinton. The president of the United States cannot be and should not be our mother.
Freedom is for adults. It sounds like Fred Thompson is about to remind us all of this important truth.
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