Fred Thompson's Announcement and What it says about American Politics

The way in which Fred Thompson announced his candidacy for the 2008 election represents all that is wrong in American politics. Announcing his candidacy on the Tonight Show and avoiding a Republican Debate earlier that evening was representative of the American political scene in which star power and entertainment overrides the relevant and pressing issues in the election cycle. Rather than joining in a debate with his fellow Republican candidates, he successfully overshadowed the debate with a public relations-manufactured announcement on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He even aired a commercial for his campaign during the debate, which was prior to his announcing his candidacy. The whole announcement borderlined on circus lunacy rather than presidential seriousness.

The "official" announcement came on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on late Thursday, September 6, with an official speech released on his website. As early as Friday, August 31, media outlets were reporting that former Tennessee senator and Law and Order star would announce his candidacy for the President on the Tonight Show the following week. In reality, announcing that he would announce that he would run was the real announcement of his candidacy, but the media seem to march right along to join in on his campaign's marketing blitz to make his "announcement" all that much more exciting. The media was focused on his upcoming "announcement", even though he had for all intents and purposes already announced.

What we saw here was a candidate orchestrating the media to raise his star power and receive more publicity. The media should be ashamed of themselves for being used in such a way. What they were doing was not covering news. The Tonight Show announcement was not news. That was the media being used for public relations by a political campaign. Thomspon's public relations head should be giving a firm pat on the back for manipulating the media in such a extraordinary way, but the media should be embarrassed for being puppets.

A healthy election must have issues at the forefront. In order to be a functioning democracy, the people must know what candidates believe in, how they deal with opposing beliefs, and how they plan to implement their beliefs. We do not need more sideshow shenanigans that distract us from the serious issues that our nation is facing.

But it would be wrong for us to blame the candidates for doing what they have to do to get elected. This act of the Thompson campaign is just one example of the travesty that American presidential politics has become, and it is the people's fault. We want good-looking, well-groomed, and great acting candidates. We do not want sincere and honest opinions about what should be done concerning all of the tough problems that confronts our nation. We do not even want to admit that we are facing serious problems that need to be dealt with.

Let us work to get this nation back on track by being people that reward candidates that tell us what they believe rather than remaining to be bystanders of an exciting "political" show.