Tennessee politicians are colorful. When I was ten years old, I had an opportunity to meet Senator Estes Kefauver
who was a friend of my grandfather. My first question to the senator was, "Where's your coonskin cap?" Kefauver had made the coonskin cap his trademark in his first senate bid. While Kefauver wore the coonskin cap to irritate another colorful Tennessee politician, E. H. "Boss" Crump
, he was not the first Tennessee politician to wear a coonskin cap. That honor goes to the legendary Davy Crockett
who served as a congressman from East Tennessee. I don't know if Davy really ever wore a coonskin cap, but I sure wore one for a while after seeing the movie.
Other Tennessee politicians over the years have fashioned their own sartorial gimmicks to draw attention to themselves. U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander
who hails from my hometown of Maryville, Tennessee, traipsed 1000 miles across the state wearing a red and black plaid shirt. It worked. He served as governor – twice, and became President of the University of Tennessee before moving on and becoming a U.S. Senator. Now we come to political aspirant, Fred Thompson
Fred Thompson, a former U.S. Senator and major television actor is a strong dark horse candidate for the Republican nomination. He too, as Tennessee politicians go, strives to achieve the "goober" image. His gimmick of farm boy clothing and his trademark red pickup truck will drive most of us nuts before the nomination process is finally concluded. His history of premarital sex resulting in his high school girlfriend (now his ex-wife) getting pregnant will probably be totally ignored by his conservative constituency.
Thompson is emerging as the last great hope of the Republican Party, even though he has not officially announced. The Bush royal family, notably George P. Bush, son of governor and presidential brother, Jeb Bush, are moving their support
… and money behind Thompson. Mary Matalin, former counselor to Vice President Cheney, will be one of Thompson's key advisors.
Thompson like the TV series he is associated with will be a "law and order" candidate. He has already made strong pronouncements decrying illegal immigration and lackluster efforts against terrorism. Other than that brief premarital setback in high school, Thompson – at this point – doesn't appear to have any skeletons hidden in his closet.
Barack Obama scares the living daylights out of many conservatives – even more so than Hillary Clinton does. Giuliani, while a true national hero, has a checkered past as well as those dressing in "drag
" images floating in potential voters minds. Romney's Mormonism is a hidden issue that irks many evangelicals, and McCain is really starting to look old…
Already there are comparisons of Thompson to the revered Republican saint, Ronald Reagan.
Of course, there is a possibility that the conservative time in the sun is over. Thompson possibly is the last we see of the species for a great while. I like his name. I just wish he would get the spelling right…