Who could have seen it coming?
Other than, like, everyone.
At 2:24 p.m. this afternoon, a message from "Friends of Fred Thompson" arrived in the inboxes of political reporters and operatives across the country.
And with that, reporters
and operatives all across the country--including, I'm guessing, those
on Thompson's payroll, who must have been sick of repeating that the
boss's one-stop-a-day schedule represented "a
lazy new kind of campaign"--breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, they thought. We can stop pretending this guy wants to be president.
Thompson's bid was so painfully and publicly half-assedthat his withdrawal is almost like an act of leadership. Yes, he was a charming, coherent conservative who showed well in debates and had gotten somewhat fired up in his final days. But from the start, no one ever really believed his heart was in winning the White House.
I like to think of him
as the Peter Gibbons of presidential candidates. Gibbons, in case
you're not a 21-to-34-year old Clinton-era cult comedy aficionado, was
the protagonist of the 1999 Mike Judge workplace romp "Office Space"
starring Ron Livingston as Gibbons and Jennifer Aniston as his
obligatory love interest. Like Thompson, who said in 1998 that he
didn't enjoy "spending 14- and 16-hour days voting on 'sense of the
Senate' resolutions on irrelevant matters," Gibbons is a likable,
laconic dude who somehow got stuck with monotonous gig that he
obviously loathes. "Ever since I
started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the
day before it," he says. "So that means that every single day that you
that's on the worst day of my life." But everything changes when
Gibbons suddenly stops worrying about pushing paper--and stops showing
up at the office--inspiring friends and colleagues to shake off the
shackles of their own workaday lives and rebel against the powers that be.
Sure, it's unlikely that a liberated Thompson will go on to deploy a computer virus to swindle money from a regional tech company. But that's no reason his story shouldn't shine like a beacon of hope for disgruntled, disinterested staple monkeys everywhere.
Also, there's now a chance that the
fourth next installment of the "Iron Eagle" series will finally get greenlighted.