Friday, September 21, 2007

Fred Thompson and the Joke-Teller Primary

When Fred Thompson officially announced his White House bid on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" it continued the trivialization and debasement of American politics.

Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his gubernatorial campaign on the Leno show and it demonstrated that he was willing to reduce the pursuit of high public office to a cartoon. Californians got what they deserved when they elected him: a cartoon Governor who betrayed his campaign promises.

The Thompson announcement is far worse since it's the pursuit of the presidency via superficial pop culture.

Presidential candidates flocking to Leno, David Letterman and Jon Stewart is a disturbing trend that should be rejected by the American people as irrelevant events. These men are mere joke tellers. They should have nothing to do with the electoral process. Yet, unfortunatley, they do.

The Leno-Letterman-Stewart expertise is asking fake questions soliciting phony answers, and if it happens to become serious or confrontational a pall is cast. It's not a venue any self-respecting presidential candidate should be in.

Explaining the Leno announcement Thompson's spokesman, Todd Harris, said "it makes a lot of sense" to "everyday normal Americans."

Is Jay Leno an "everyday normal" American? Are any of his famous left-wing Hollywood guests with their multiple marriages, arrests, children out-of-wedlock and serial bizarre behavior? There is nothing "everyday normal" about his show or the people who appear on it. Yet this is the forum Thompson chose. What Thompson and his advisers apparently don't know or don't care about is that Jay Leno has become increasingly vulgar in his monologues since he replaced Johnny Carson in 1992. For ratings. He has a special obsession, which is growing, with ridiculing the Catholic Church - my Church:

"As you've probably heard, the Pope has asked all the Cardinals to return to Rome. You know how they got them all to come back? They told them that there was going to be a performance by the Vienna Boys Choir." That's real funny, Jay.

Thompson is courting Christians and family values conservatives. Why should they respect his decision to make the most important announcement of his career on a Hollywood show hosted by a professional vulgarian? They should not. Much of what Leno "jokes" and talks about should never be heard by children.

Leno's announcer is John Melendez, who spent 15 years as a sidekick on The Howard Stern Show, where he would refer to actor Nicholas Cage as "Niggaless Cage." That kind of talk usually doesn't go over well with the voters, and why Fred Thompson would want to associate himself with such people has been a major political miscalculation.

Achieving humor with clever retorts to a late-night joke teller is not an indication that a candidate can assume the powers of the presidency and lead with strength and good judgement. In fact, it's an opportunity for slick phonies. Bill Clinton in sunglasses playing the saxophone on "The Arsenio Hall Show" is the best example.

Senator Thompson needs to contemplate what kind of candidate he wants to be. He can be a serious and determined candidate, or one who is willing to pander to Hollywood celebrities.

Any Republican candidate who courts Hollywood, seeking the approval of actors, producers and directors who are so detached from "everyday normal Americans" should be summarily dismissed by the American people.

Official presidential announcements should always strive for pageantry. The candidate behind a podium. With a panoramic backdrop, bunting and balloons. To a cheering crowd - in the home state of the candidate, not a Hollywood set. Fred Thompson utterly failed this great American tradition, and it was telling.