Tom Paine.com has a cute piece by Paul Waldman on Republican presidental great, portly hope, Fred Thompson. Let me slice off a few chunks for ya:
"Can you smell the English Leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man’s shaving cream, or whatever, you know, after he shaved? Do you smell that sort of—a little bit of cigar smoke? You know, whatever."Sheese, what is it with the right and latent homoerotica? And with the propensity to put style over substance? One would think that even the most hardcore, reactionary Republican would pull his head out his ass and say: "Jesus, Mitt's a good lookin' rich guy, for a Mormon; Rudy's got a certain charm for a bald dude, y'know that prison-street tough skinhead look; McCain was a Navy pilot; Ron Paul's a no-tax, racist sort of guy; and this Fred Thompson smells good, gots a real purdy young wife and he's an actor on TV just like Ronald Reagan, but, y'know, everything they say is bullshit."
It will not surprise you to learn that the one who spoke those words was Chris Matthews, nor that the “mature man” about whom he was speaking was the Republican flavor of the month, former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson. Matthews’ references to English Leather and Aqua Velva, male grooming products whose status (along with Old Spice) as totemic signifiers of American manhood faded some 30 years ago, could hardly be more apt.
If there is one thing Thompson shares with the man currently holding the office he seeks, it is an understanding of the role of masculinity in presidential image-making. In 2004, the Republican convention featured a video entitled “The Pitch,” seven of the most lushly produced minutes in American political history. The voice-over was provided by none other than Fred Thompson, possessor of the GOP’s most mellifluous set of pipes. “How do you tell the story of a presidency?” Thompson intoned. “How do you tell the story so far? The story is in part, but inescapably, the story of a man.” Listen to it and you can hear Thompson pour every ounce of feeling his modest acting talents would summon into that one word.
Thompson may not have much to say about issues, but he knows image. You can already see the careful attention to detail in his just-constructed website: “I read Sen. Barry Goldwater’s book, The Conscience of a Conservative,” Thompson tells us, “and the ideas were as clear as a church bell on a cold winter night.” Conservative bona fides, check; nod to Christian religiosity, check; small-town folksiness, check. And all in one sentence.
But, like I said yesterday: [The] majority of the American people are dupes, chumps, tools, fools, true belivers, useful idiots, fellow travels and willfully ignorant.