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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Law & Order: Campaign version

It may come down to the ultimate trivia question of the 2008 campaign: who is the best actor in the field. On the Republican side, you have Fred Thompson, star of small screen who plays men of character, and Myth Romney, who plays a conservative.

Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch
is about to join the already crowded GOP field, raising the heart rates of conservatives longing for another actor to save their party. Tall, with rugged looks and a deep voice marked by a southern twang, Thompson appears ready to vault into the top tier of what many view as an uninspiring field.

Romney, whose leading role has been as an absentee Massachusetts governor, thought he had cornered the movie star market with the perfect hair, good suits and the ability to say whatever words are placed in front of him.

In many ways, Romney's acting credentials are more impressive -- he played a liberal in his race against Ted Kennedy in 1994, a moderate running for governor against Shannon O'Brien in 2002 and a full-throated conservative four years later.

The early line says Thompson's arrival spells trouble for the Man, the Myth, the Legend in his own Mind. After all, Thompson has a more impressive resume, including US Senator and the Man Who Blew the Lid Off Watergate.

Oh sure, he has his own problems: his red pickup truck is more Hollywood prop than actual vehicle of choice. And he may be forced into competition (a phony one at that) a little too soon for his organizational preferences.

But Thompson's greatest strength -- for now -- is that he's someone else. He's not McCain. He's not Rudy. He's not Mitt. GOP faithful have kicked the 10 sets of tires -- particularly the top three -- and have found them wanting.

That indeed spells the greatest potential for bad news for the man from Utah-Michigan- Massachusetts-New Hampshire who has been trying to win hearts and minds.

Giuliani will always have the mantle of leadership during 9-11; McCain a respected senator and heroic prisoner of war. Romney at best can claim credit to "saving" the corrupt Salt Lake City Olympics. As this blog and many others have repeatedly noted, his record as Massachusetts governor was that of doublespeak coming in between lengthy absences from the job.

But Thompson will undoubtedly find things a lot more difficult as the real deal candidate rather than the Hamlet-like savior pondering his fate. His fellow candidates, not to mention the media, will take a closer look at everything.

Law & Order fans may also be very annoyed -- what's the fate of the program (or the DA) when federal equal times requirements may force the elimination of reruns?

Thompson's move now leaves only one former Tennessee Senator pondering his political future. But, in what could make the TV actor nervous, this one has an Oscar on his mantelpiece.

And what about Myth? He's got his own video performances to share with the electorate.

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