Royally Kranked

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Hatchet Job Of The Inane Kind On Fred Thompson

Of all the reasons not to vote for former GOP Senator & actor Fred Thompson, this should be absolutely the very last item on the list, in fact, it shouldn't even be listed at all

In this case, it's Thompson's choice of one acting role that's supposedly got the potential to cause him problems-read that as "votes"-if he runs for President, although I cam definitely see this as a possible talking point to tarnish Thompson's opposition if he runs for President

That's right, just one role is supposed to play to all the negative qualities associated with and by the GOP

Evil, racist, manipulator, huckster, qualites he played through his Evil Racist Manipulating Huckster on a three episode arc of "Wiseguy"

To suggest that Thompson would be in trouble politically because he played-apparently well enough-an extremely unsavory criminal is so logically deficient that the terms "stupidity" and "appalling" both carry the exact same rhetorical heft

It's stories like these, uncritically reported-in this case, a few replies to a blog post-that all too often are passed off as some mainstream political wisdom actually worthy of discussion. The only factor worth discussing about this story is how extremely stupid or shallow anyone is if this issue costs Thompson-should he run for President-any actual votes

Look for this sort of hysteria-even though, according to the article, it seems to have originated on at least one conservative site, which has it's reply to the LA Times article HERE

to somehow lay the groundwork for the "evil liberals will attempt to conflate Thompson the politician with Pooley the Character" meme if Thompson decides on a Presidential run, just another rhetorical device to demonize the opposition's voters

Ahhh, but there's one lively sting in the tail at the very end of this post

bypass registration with this Bug Me Not link

Will Fred Thompson's racist role have political repercussions?

Ronald Reagan became president even though he worked with chimps in B movies.

Arnold Schwarzenegger played a murderous robot, and that didn't keep him from becoming governor.

So can "Law & Order" actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) become the first presidential candidate with this credit? Thompson played a white supremacist, spewing anti-Semitic comments and fondling an autographed copy of "Mein Kampf" on a television drama 19 years ago.

His colleagues say that he was just an actor putting everything he had into playing the role of a charismatic racist, named Knox Pooley, in three episodes of CBS' hit show "Wiseguy" in 1988. "Do you call Tom Cruise a killer because he played one in a movie?" asked show creator and writer Stephen J. Cannell.

But in the age of YouTube, this performance could raise an intriguing political question: How does a performer eyeing a presidential run deal with a video history that can be downloaded, taken out of context, chopped into embarrassing pieces and then distributed endlessly though cyberspace? Some conservative political blogs are already considering the problem.

"Not only do politicians have to worry about getting comfortable with a crowd and saying something that might be caught on tape," said USC professor Leo Braudy, a pop culture expert, who has written extensively about film. "Now actors who have political aspirations will have to go through every single line of every part they played to make sure there's nothing they need to explain or apologize for."

The role is not something Thompson, who is in Orange County for a speech today, has talked a lot about in recent years. (His spokesman did not respond to several requests for comment this week.) In an appearance before the American Bakers Assn. in Phoenix last year, Thompson mentioned that he had a part on "Wiseguy," but he did not go into details. He summed up his acting career this way: "I played a CIA director, FBI director, an FBI agent, a senator, an admiral, a White House chief of staff, corporate execs and myself twice," Thompson said in the speech. "Some might say I was playing myself on each of these occasions. In each of these roles it seemed as if I had either known the guy I was playing or someone like him.

"So instead of studying admirals or generals, etc., I envisioned that I, Fred Thompson, had become an admiral or general and played myself…. The range was narrow, but I was establishing myself as the character actor for authority figures."

The idea that the "Wiseguy" role could be used against Thompson upsets Cannell.

"He was an actor hired to play a part," Cannell said. "These are not his personal views. He doesn't believe any of that, nor do I. If this is all they can find to say about him, then they've hit a new low."

The only reason this story gets published, which then gives off the absurd impression that this is a legitimate or rational reason to vote against Thompson, is where it runs online, in the "entertainment" section

In this case, both as "entertainment" value and "political analysis", this story is the rhetorical equivalent of trying to argue today that the earth is flat and at the center of the universe, it just really does come across as that deluded and divorced from reality

The part of this nerf-hatchet job describing some of Thompson's bits as Knox Pooley comes across, even with just words, as almost breathless, so make sure smelling salts and vapors are available for the "swoon at the rustle of a light wind" types in the immediate vicinity of where you're reading this

It takes only a few minutes to find the old "Wiseguy" series on Amazon Unbox. For $1.99, you can watch Thompson's first episode, "School of Hard Knox," where the actor asks a crowd at a rally whom they blame for their economic woes.

"You've asked yourself that same question, haven't you?" he says, standing in front of a banner decorated with a cross resembling the emblem of the racist Christian Identity movement. "When you've lost that job on the construction site or the loading dock, a job you've had for 20 years to someone who can't speak the language but who is willing to work for $2.50 an hour?"

He gets the crowd chanting: "Who's to blame? Who's to blame?"

"Who are these enemies?" he asks the crowd. "Some folks say it's the Jews. In fact, if I had a quarter for every time I heard that, I would be 10 bucks shy of being Jewish myself."

The scene continues. Thompson's character says: "The fact remains that it would be easy to point our finger at the bankers and the financiers, Jewish or not, for the fact that our great nation can't compete in the market place with the Asiatics. And it would be easy to blame the liberal leftist, Jewish or not, for sacrificing our working people on the altar of economic Bolshevism."

He tells the crowd that they have only themselves to blame. "We have been complacent, because we have been gullible, and we have been naive, we have allowed them to exercise their genetic need to dominate a Christian world. So don't blame the Jews for doing it. Blame it on yourselves for letting them."

He adds: "Open your mind and open up your hearts and open up your wallets and accept your birthright to a land of pure blood, pure spirit, pure belief and our divinely ordered superiority as a people."

Later in the episode, a follower gives Thompson's character a suitcase full of money and a copy of "Mein Kampf" signed by Hitler. The actor appears deeply touched.

"Only you would have the sensitivity to know what this means to me," he tells his supporter.

No, it's NOT THE ACTOR who "appears deeply touched", it's the CHARACTER HE'S PLAYING that "appears deeply touched", I mean, Goddamn, the words "Thompson's character says" were used only three paragraphs above "the actor appears deeply touched", that's an almost unfathomable laziness to flub the proper description, even if the entertainment beat is considered-not without justification in many cases-as substantive as cotton candy. Yes, "entertainment" is such a catch-all description, especially when it can encompass so many tawdry stories that have no real value other than to the people immediately involved, but all too often, these stories somehow become reported as if they were legitimate, like the media's nonstop efforts to link for Congressman Gary Condit with Chandra Levy's disappearance, then murder

Well, just because it's reported at all, even in the "entertainment" section, does NOT make this story about Thompson credible or legitimate in the least

I don't recall Spike Lee ACTUALLY throwing a trash can through a pizzeria window in real life like he did in "Do The Right Thing"

I don't recall Julie Andrews ACTUALLY levitating via umbrella in real life even though she did just that as "Mary Poppins"

I don't recall Charlton Heston ACTUALLY setting off the Doomsday Weapon in real life like he did in "Beneath The Planet Of The Apes"

To recap, the absurdity of this piece is that somehow, Thompson is actually the character he played, that the political life he's had is the actual charade, and that if Thompson successfully runs for President, it will be Knox Pooley, not Fred Thompson, inaugurated in January 2009

One website called Patterico's Pontifications asked the question recently: "How will they trash Fred Thompson?" Several respondents immediately mentioned the "Wiseguy" performance.


That's exactly why there's so much potential for partisan mischief in Thompson's "Wiseguy" role. In some ways, Thompson is too good an actor and looks too convincing in the part — a problem Schwarzenegger never had.

If Thompson's old TV roles do play a part in his presidential campaign, then the long relationship between Hollywood and politics will have entered a new era — an actor's dream and a candidate's nightmare — a world where nothing you ever said is forgotten.

So, "partisans" bent on "mischief"-read "liberal" and apparently lacking such skills as abstract thought-will push the argument that Thompson is SUCH a good actor that he can't possibly be acting, which is why he shouldn't be elected in the first place

Truly, this line of attack is so looney that the only logical sense it makes is to push as a conservative talking point to be used against Thompson's detractors, but then again, as shown by the over the top antics and rhetoric employed by such lovelies as Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church
, there may well be idiots who would vote for Thompson, but for his three episode arc as the slimiest of con artists

But there's one way, if this article was actually legitimate, that shows just how much BS is the notion that Thompson 's role of Knox Pooley will hurt him politically

Thompson played the role in 1988, and was elected twice to the Senate, once in a special election in 1994, and re-elected in 1996




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