Fred the Quiet

Last year, I wrote favorably about Fred Thompson for a Beacon election symposium. Since then my fondness for him has only increased. And it's not that I've grown more attracted to his issue positions; his demeanor on the trail has been the turn-on.

The former senator isn't glitzy or done-up. He avoids showboating and is never shrill or self-righteous. He's not dull or dumb, of course, just entirely unpretentious. His words are natural, his tone easy, his presentation unhurried, with a grandfather's sense of confidence.

Most impressively, Thompson doesn't seem eager to please. You won't find him pandering on the street corner. You won't find him hollering from atop the soapbox, that bully's puplit.

So, naturally, the rat race that is 21st electoral politics rubs him the wrong way. Witness these wonderful remarks:

BURLINGTON, Iowa -- Fred Thompson said Saturday he does not much like the modern form of presidential campaigning and that he "will not be devastated" if he doesn't win the election.

"I'm not particularly interested in running for president," Thompson said, but rather he feels called to serve his country.

"I don't know if you have a desire to be president," Burlington attorney Todd Chelf told Thompson during a question and answer session raising an issue that has dogged his campaign.

"I am not consumed by personal ambition," Thompson responded. "I'm offering myself up."

This understanding of the democratic process recalls the thinking of earlier times, when politics was more than a beauty pageant and charm contest.

Thompson knows himself as a public man: it is his duty to present himself honestly, to articulate his platform with clarity. Then, he must step back and let the people do as they may. There's no bread and circus; he's no Roman patron (though he may be something of an American Cincinnatus, sort of).

We have suffered eight years of Clinton ambition, and eight years of dogmatic neoconservatism. I, for one, am tired of ideological zeal. I am sick of worldly men, regardless of their stripe.

The American republic would do well to have a drowsy administration for a while. Of all the viable candidates, Thompson is really the only one under whom federal interventionism would be curtailed, and federal expansionism slowed.

That brings to mind a nice campaign slogan: "For peace and quiet, Fred '08."

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