Newsweek's Howard Fineman -- last seen expressing admiration for the "reassuring" "male" qualities exuded by the GOP presidential field -- was on Hardball last night heaping praise on Fred Thompson. According to Fineman, Thompson not only is "tough on defense," but he himself is "a tough guy." Fineman also swooned: "He's got a strong record on cultural issues as a cultural conservative from the South."
What, in Fineman's mind, makes Thompson "tough on defense" and gives him credibility as "a tough guy"? Fineman obviously means that as a high compliment, but what -- in actuality -- has Thompson ever done that warrants such praise for his alleged "tough-guy-ness"?
Here is Thompson's biography -- his own official, endorsed version. He's been a government lawyer, an actor and a Senator. Though Thompson does not mention it, he also has been -- for two decades -- what a 1996 profile in The Washington Monthly described as "a high-paid Washington lobbyist for both foreign and domestic interests." This folksy, down-home, regular guy has spent his entire adult life as a lawyer and lobbyist in Washington, except when he was an actor in Hollywood.
And -- like the vast, vast majority of Republican "tough guys" who play-act the role so arousingly for our media stars, from Rudy Giuliani to Newt Gingrich -- Thompson has no military service despite having been of prime fighting age during the Vietnam War (Thompson turned 20 in 1962, Gingrich in 1963, Giuliani in 1964). He was active in Republican politics as early as the mid-1960s, which means he almost certainly supported the war in which he did not fight.
It's a great little essay from Greenwald. I recommend reading it all.