Politics

Is Fred Thompson another Reagan?

He’s an actor-turned-politician in the mode of Ronald Reagan, someone who is at ease in front of a camera or a crowd, a man who can charm an audience with a folksy tale or a clever turn of phrase.

But is Fred Thompson truly Reaganesque?

Reagan was, after all, the Great Communicator, a leader so skilled at connecting with his subjects that he has become the standard by which all would-be presidents are judged.

Thompson’s admirers, elated over his decision to seek the Republican nomination for president, already are hailing his candidacy as the second coming of Reagan.

Kowtowing to the throne of big labor

Democratic presidential candidates argued Saturday night that organized labor is an essential part of the nation’s economy whose troubles mirror the deterioration of the middle class way of life.

“The only way to reinvigorate the middle class is to reinvigorate the labor movement,” Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware told several hundred union members at a labor forum in eastern Iowa.

For all the candidates, it was one stop in a busy several days leading to a Sunday morning debate in Des Moines. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York leads the Democratic field in national polls and has pulled into a three-way tie in Iowa, where the first votes of the 2008 campaign will be tallied.

Open mouth, insert foot

Say what? The 2008 presidential campaign theme could be “Oops! What I meant was …”

Just about every Republican and Democrat has flubbed an answer to a question or made a borderline inappropriate comment — some so uncomfortable they make you cringe — only to take back the remarks or seek to clarify them later when under fire.

Thompson: Nothing wrong in lobbying

On the verge of joining the presidential race, Republican Fred Thompson on Friday unapologetically defended his career as a Washington lobbyist paid to influence the government on behalf of an abortion-rights group, a leftist Haitian leader and other special interests.

“Don’t confuse the lawyer with the client,” Thompson told The Associated Press.

Long on talk, short on specifics

Republicans rushing to embrace Fred Thompson’s would-be presidential candidacy might have trouble figuring out what he would do if he actually won the White House.

On most public policy issues, the former Tennessee senator and “Law & Order” actor has offered few, if any, specifics. Even on the dominant issue of the 2008 campaign — the war in Iraq — Thompson has carefully stopped short of wading into what he would do about the conflict should he inherit it, although he has generally backed President Bush.

Gonna be a long, boring campaign

I don’t know about you, but even I– who has spent much of my adult life concerned with politics at one level or another– have become utterly disenchanted in the current, almost stultifying presidential campaign despite the fact it may produce the first woman or the first black chief executive in history.

Bush’s prying eyes in the sky

The Bush administration plans to give state and local law-enforcement and other domestic agencies access to intelligence from military spy satellites and airborne sensors.

Looked at one way, the program makes a certain amount of sense. We’ve paid for this information, a limited number of federal agencies already have it in hand, so we might as well put it to good use.

The eye-in-the-sky intelligence presumably would be used in combating terrorism, smuggling and illegal immigration and tracking assorted natural disasters like floods, wildfires and hurricanes.

The myth of Mitt Romney

With his confident style and crowd-pleasing smile, Ames, Iowa, straw-poll winner Willard Mitt Romney looks like a formidable contender for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. If he’s lucky, he can leave voters so dazzled that they ignore his record.

Rather than see stars, Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Boston’s Northeastern University placed Romney’s rule as Massachusetts governor beneath their statistical microscope. Let’s hope what they discovered is not contagious.

Working the labor vote

Peel back the label of all the top Democratic presidential contenders, and they want you to see two words in big, bold letters: “Union made.”

The candidates weren’t soft-pedaling their support for organized labor at the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO convention in Waterloo on Wednesday.

They bragged about marching in picket lines. They each touted the labor movement as the thing that won American workers better wages, shorter work weeks, better working conditions and the like.

The Iowa free food poll

And the Iowa Republican straw poll proves exactly what? That in politics money talks? But we knew that already.

Mitt Romney, who The Washington Post reckons spent $817 per vote, won with 31.5 percent of the vote. This is something less than a mandate, considering that only 14,300 showed up despite the candidates’ blandishments of transportation, free food and live music.

But it was not the decisive, clear-cut victory Romney had been hoping for, especially considering the millions he spent leading up to this highly artificial event.