Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ultimate Hollywood-Washington Nexus

In the 1960s, boundaries between politics and show business began to blur. If Fred Dalton Thompson runs for President, they will be completely erased.

Unlike actors who ran for office and politicians who made cameo appearances in movies, Thompson has been commuting professionally for more than two decades.

First seen as co-counsel on the televised Senate Watergate hearings in 1973, he went back to practicing law in Tennessee and won a case that led to the governor’s removal for selling pardons. In “Marie,” a movie about it in 1985, Thompson played himself.

Since then, he has shuttled between acting and public service, making movies and serving as a U.S. Senator for seven years, during the last of which he began playing a D.A. on the TV series, “Law and Order.”

Last Sunday he told Fox TV he’s thinking of running in ’08.

Ronald Reagan started it all in 1964. After a lackluster career in movies, he began making a canned speech for Barry Goldwater. His Presidential candidate lost, but movie song-and-dance man George Murphy was elected to the Senate. Reagan kept making the speech and eventually became governor of California, and we all know the rest.

Reagan and Murphy proved that character actors were more likely to succeed in politics than action heroes, although Governor Arnold turned that around in 2003.

Now, in Thompson, conservative Republicans might find the ultimate character actor. He is a Bush clone, supporting the surge in Iraq, opposing gay marriage and announcing he would pardon Scooter Libby. But he knows how to look into the camera and ooze good old American horse sense.

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