Is Fred Thompson Live or on Memorex?

The LA Times recently carried an article about actor and would-be Republican Presidential candidate Fred Thompson. The article questioned whether a 19-year old TV roll as a hate-spewing bigot will hurt him if he decides to run. The blog Whizbang calls the article a "stupid smear piece". However, it seems more a story about why such "stupid" worries happen in the first place.

The Times wonders if clips of the show - taken out of context and downloaded to YouTube ad infinitum - might prove embarrassing during a possible run. Sure, that sounds stupid, but it's a valid fear in an age when voters can't tell the difference between life and Memorex. Republican strategists are little worried and probably have every right to be.

Are They Live or on Memorex?

When voters can't tell the difference between real people and TV characters we're in trouble, but that's not where the trouble ends. Our electorate also expects candidates to have detailed opinions or plans about every conceivable issue. You're a catfish farmer? "What's your position on EU price supports for imported catfish." You make shoelaces? "Imported Brazilian shoelaces are killing us here. What's your bailout plan" Your pet project provides sleeping quarters for wayward deep-space aliens? Well, you get the idea.

Voters also expect total consistency on every issue, regardless of whether new questions reveal aspects the candidate has never considered. None of us are ever totally consistent no matter how hard we try, nor should we be. Absolute consistency suggests a serious deficiency of critical thinking skills and an aversion to tweaking your opinion on complex issues as the situation evolves. Show me a candidate who refuses to consider new information or look at the same problem from different angles and I'll show you a glossy 8x10 of a smirking cowboy.

We expect angelic morals and "presidential" behavior devoid of any human characteristic. We want political robots of infinite capacity who magically make decisions completely simpatico with our own without having ever made the tiniest misstep.

You forgot to pay Social Security taxes for the kid down the street who mows your lawn? Why, you're a non-tax paying scofflaw who isn't fit to set foot in the White House.

Cutting Our Noses Off to Spite Our Faces

That totally unrealistic expectation powers the tsunami of gotcha episodes that put the fear of Zeus into regular people who think of running. Some who decide not to run have the smarts and talents we need to solve issues larger than catfish subsidies or flag-burning amendments. Through our ham-handed demands, we've cut the viable field of candidates down to an ever-shrinking pool of idiots, gangsters, and self-aggrandizing bints, equally hated by right and left.

We've cut our noses off to spite our faces.

Just what the hell are we doing?

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, May 08, 2007

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