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Fred Thompson Sez Kerry Wants the Best Things for Our Country

Reported by Marie Therese - September 16, 2004 -

On Big Story with John Gibson September 14, 2004 between 5:22 PM and 5:26 PM EDT, host John Gibson interviewed actor and former Republican Senator from Tennessee, Fred Thompson. Thompson starred this year as the District Attorney on the perennial favorite "Law and Order". The two men commented on the new Kerry strategy, Operation Fortunate Son, which targets the President's Vietnam era draft records. This Democratic approach was developed in response to the wave of Swift Boat ads that have called into question Sen. Kerry's war record, fitness to lead the nation and trustworthiness as a candidate for the Presidency.

Thompson, who narrated the Bush film bio at the Republican National Convention, said he believes that Operation Fortunate Son "is not gonna be what turns independent voters on and it's a bad thing for the country."

John Gibson allowed Thompson to speak at length and give his opinion regarding the Kerry campaign.

THOMPSON: I think the Democrats have failed to learn the lesson that the Republicans belatedly learned with regard to Bill Clinton. With President Clinton with all these problems and all these scandals and all these things and we were hot after him [for] a long time. A new scandal every night. We said 'By George, we got him this time.' And we'd look at the polls and it hadn't hurt him a bit in the polls and what we didn't understand was that, although they disapproved of the President in part, they disapproved of his adversaries - someone attacking a sitting President - just as much. In that case it was us and they certainly disapproved of the media. Now here you have the DNC at the same time as CBS comes out with these documents. CBS is stonewalling. You ask them a question: 'Did you talk to the family of this person who supposedly wrote this document, before you ran this story?' They won't even answer the question. They're saying the burden of proof is on other people to prove that they're false. This is a leading news organization saying this. They get in deeper and deeper and deeper. So, what an excellent time, the DNC thinks, to revive the Bush National Guard story. I think it's a circular firing squad over there."

Gibson asked why Kerry would ignore Bill Clinton's advice, which was to stay off the topic of the Vietnam war and stick to the economy.

THOMPSON: "I think that probably some insiders over there are so mad and so angry - they are smarter and prettier and have more sophisticated, nuanced positions on everything, are more intellectual, and yet they still can't quite get the point across. And here, Bush keeps Lucy [of "Peanuts"] and the football, ya' know, they keep missin' it, and Bush keeps scorin' it. There's a lot of anger out there and, I think, that they think that their manhood's at stake with regard to some of 'em, and they're doing irrational things and they're launching out. Instead of putting Kerry in a position where he looks Presidential - and he's a very smart, articulate guy - he wants the best things for our country, I think, deep down inside, the way the rest of us do, and talkin' about the future and things of that nature."

Ya' know, they keep going back to 'we're gonna be meaner and tougher and uglier that the Swift Boat Veterans.'"

Comment

Contrary to his usual interview style, John Gibson permitted Fred Thompson to speak without interruption or overtalking.

With regard to Mr. Thompson's observations about the Republicans and Bill Clinton, this is the first time I recall one of them admitting that they were "hot after him." It gives some credence to Hillary Clinton's apprehensions that there might have been - if not a right-wing conspiracy - at least a Republican conspiracy to get her husband. I especially liked Thompson's image of the entire RNC leadership waking up each morning, checking Clinton's poll numbers and being perplexed, befuddled, depressed and disturbed at their stubborn refusal to go down.

Mr. Thompson missed an important difference between the administrations of Bill Clinton and George Bush. In the Clinton era Americans were angry with the Republicans because they were attacking the President in good economic times. Our incomes were rising. Our portfolios were getting fatter. The deficit was coming down. Clinton came very close to getting a Israeli-Palestinian peace. It was hard to be angry with a President like that and the Republicans looked like spoilers out to kill the golden goose.

Now, it's a little different. Massive deficits, declining incomes, millions of jobs outsourced and lost, bankrupt state budgets, a mounting death toll in Iraq with civil war on the horizon, beheadings, car bombings, torture of prisoners. I can see why many Americans would be very angry with George Bush.