Some things are more important than what we call "drive"

Via Tom Maguire (guest blogging at InstaPundit), my attention was directed to an interesting remark about Fred Thompson reported by Bill Hobbs:

The Nashville City Paper interviews a couple of national political pundits who don't think Fred Thompson has the drive to become president - and notes that some Tennessee Republicans, such as U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Knoxville), have endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president.
I think Thompson would be a great candidate, especially if Giuliani doesn't make it past the primary voters.

Naturally, I'm curious to know what might have been meant by the word "drive" so I went to the source, which was Nashville's City Paper:

Pundits, GOP insiders and organizers from Nashville to Washington, D.C. expressed excitement at the idea of a Thompson candidacy while noting the oftentimes maverick within his own party would have to find a "fire in the belly" which was not a hallmark of his previous days in politics.

"He'd have to be a world-wind of activity, and the words 'world-wind of activity' and 'Fred Thompson' haven't been in a lot of the same sentences before," said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan newsletter The Rothenberg Political Report. "He'd have to raise tons of money. He'd have to start doing that right a way."


When Rothenberg heard that Thompson was considering running for president, he reacted with "mild surprise" because Thompson had a reputation of not being "driven by politics" and not having "a fire in the belly."

In addition, Rothenberg said Thompson would have to "camp out" in early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and "meet the folks and spend time in people's living rooms for coffees."

Well, they could have said the same thing about Eisenhower, who had to be drafted. But that doesn't mean Ike lacked drive (anyone who commanded the D-Day invasion could hardly be described that way); it might just mean a distaste for the egomania so closely associated with campaigning for high office.

Frankly, I find it refreshing, and I think the country might do well to elect a president who is not "driven by politics."

Whether the political system allows for such a possibility is another matter.

The City Paper touched on another detail which might help account for what is being seen as a lack of drive:

During his time in the Senate, Thompson was chairman of the Committee on Governmental Affairs and won landslides in both his initial campaign and his re-election bid.

His history with the GOP dates back to the days of Watergate, when as a young attorney Thompson helped prosecute an impeachment case against President Richard Nixon.

Well, he was Republican minority counsel during the hearings. I don't know whether that made him a "Watergate prosecutor" in the strict sense of the word, because there never was a formal impeachment, nor did he actually prosecute any of the people convicted in Watergate.

But Thompson was certainly in the middle of everything and wrote a book about it:

Thompson, the minority counsel in the Watergate investigation, wrote a book about the experience: "At That Point in Time: The Inside Story of the Senate Watergate Committee."

Even he hadn't put pen to paper, Thompson would still be memorable for his role in the 1973 Watergate hearings, which were televised and recorded for posterity.

Thompson was the one to ask Alexander Butterfield, an aide to White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, what would become a sensational question - "Are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?" - prompting a sensational answer: "Yes, sir."

Wikipedia says he's responsible for a famous question that still resonates every time the suffix "gate" attaches itself to a new scandal:
He was the campaign manager for Senator Howard Baker's successful re-election campaign in 1972, which led to a close personal friendship with Baker, and he served as co-chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee in its investigation of the Watergate scandal, (1973-1974). He was responsible for Baker's asking one of the questions that is said to have led directly to the downfall of President Richard Nixon--"What did the President know, and when did he know it?"
I would not be surprised to find that because Thompson is the equivalent of genuine combat veteran of the worst political war this country has seen in modern times, he has a different view of the process than your typical ego-driven, hard-charging political animal.

The man has been in the arena and seen the worst of it.

What appears to be an absence of drive might indicate the presence of something much more important and in generally short supply: political wisdom.

I think Fred Thompson has sufficient political wisdom that he might be worthy of being drafted into service even if he expressed no interest in the office.

posted by Eric on 03.14.07 at 09:13 AM


When I close my eyes, I envision Thompson replacing Gonzalez as Art-Imitating-Life, or maybe stepping in for Cheney should Dick decide to spend more time with his family.

rzklkng   ·  March 14, 2007 12:30 PM

Thompson voted for McCain-Feingold. That disqualifies him from upholding and defending the Constitution.

He'll get no vote from me.

anonymous   ·  March 14, 2007 7:51 PM

I think the GOP is hungry for leadership right now. Is he the perfect candidate? Hell no, there's no such beast. We're at a watershed moment, and Thompson may be the right man at the right time - willing or not.

Kevin   ·  March 20, 2007 6:32 AM

pregnant month belly >pregnant holmes belly

belly pregnant when   ·  March 26, 2007 12:10 AM

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