August 4, 2007

Trophy Wife Or Machiavellia?

The press can't get enough of Jeri Thompson, it appears. They also can't quite get their minds settled on a narrative for her, either. They either consider her a trophy wife, or some sort of manipulative harridan, as this latest non-story from Michael Cooper and Marc Santora proves:

One Friday afternoon last month, Jeri Kehn Thompson took attendance at the testing-the-waters presidential campaign headquarters of her husband, Fred D. Thompson. Mrs. Thompson checked to see which staff members were working at their desks, said a Republican close to the campaign, and went on to chide those who were A.W.O.L.

The spot-check is just one of many indications that Mrs. Thompson, a former political consultant herself, is taking an active, hands-on role in the effort to propel Mr. Thompson, a former Tennessee senator, into a presidential candidacy.

Admirers say the role makes sense, not only because of her background working in political campaigns but also because there were things that were not being done properly that needed to be corrected. Detractors say that her role has caused friction within the campaign and that she was the reason several top aides resigned last week.

Wow. The nerve of her, checking to see if people were doing their jobs. It might almost indicate that Fred Thompson considers his wife a real partner in his campaign to be elected President -- and that she might be doing that job so that her husband doesn't have to be his own hatchetman.

The hook for this story is the reassignment of Tom Collamore, which is itself a non-story. Supposedly her efforts to assist her husband created so much friction that Collamore had to step down as the campaign's leader. The only problem with that is that Collamore was never going to run the national campaign. Collamore doesn't have that kind of experience, and Fred had always intended on finding someone with a national reputation for that role.

In any event, the trophy wife-cum-distaff Svengali rollercoaster is amusing, but completely ridiculous. Jeri Thompson has experience in national politics and is a natural asset to her husband's campaign. He'd be a fool to ignore that, and Fred is no fool. Perhaps one of these days, the media will actually give us a balanced look at Jeri Kehn Thompson. Until then, why not just focus on her husband -- you know, the one actually running for office?


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Comments (23)

Posted by starfleet_dude | August 4, 2007 10:23 AM

It's not a good idea for a spouse of a candidate to have too much of a hands-on role in a campaign, because objectivity can be a problem. Bill Clinton realizes that and doesn't have the sort of close involvement in Hillary's campaign that Fred's wife does.

Posted by filistro | August 4, 2007 10:24 AM

Yes, just imagine how tolerant the Republicans would have been if if Hillary had gone to Bill's campaign office, taken attendance and read the riot act to malingerers.

To quote Robbie Burns:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

Posted by Steven Donegal | August 4, 2007 10:26 AM

If Mrs. Thompson will be a major force in her husband's administration, isn't it fair to focus on her as well as her husband?

Posted by billhedrick | August 4, 2007 10:43 AM

The reason (IMHO) Bill isn't involved with Hillary's campaign (in contrast to the large role Hillary had in Bills campaign) is because Bill enjoys the party life he has now. Also there is an age factor and a "been there done that." He's had 12 years away from the Presidential campaign, and whether you like him or not, you can understand why he doesn't wanna do it again. Conversely, you gotta think that if he had done more for Gore, Gore might have won.

Posted by cirby | August 4, 2007 10:48 AM

"Yes, just imagine how tolerant the Republicans would have been if if Hillary had gone to Bill's campaign office, taken attendance and read the riot act to malingerers."

...and who said she didn't?

Please note that she held many important policy and advisory posts, each at least as important as running her husband's campaign. Do you honestly believe, considering her past actions and temperament, that Hilary sat back and didn't interfere with the campaign?

Why do you think the nickname "Billary" came to be, after he took office? Hillary was well-known for sticking her nose into pretty much every aspect of her husband's office- to an embarrassing degree.

Posted by Retread | August 4, 2007 10:52 AM

Er, except that Fred! isn't actually running for office, yet.

/snark off

This story is an example of no publicity being bad. Fred got some coverage and most working adults were probably thinking, 'yeah, there's usually a couple of people in my office not doing their jobs.' I know I was.

If you don't already know about him, read Rich Galen's column. There is a link to his blog, too. He's recently hired on with Fred's team.

Posted by bulbasaur | August 4, 2007 10:56 AM

The democrat narrative on any issue can be thought of as a gelatinous blob that sort of oozes around the news cycle for something to glom on to. It takes increasingly sedimentary form as it's handled and passed around the bubble.

The essential feature, of course, is that reality nowhere comes into play.

Posted by filistro | August 4, 2007 11:05 AM

cirby, you totally make my point.

In fact, your post fairly drips with contempt:

Why do you think the nickname "Billary" came to be, after he took office? Hillary was well-known for sticking her nose into pretty much every aspect of her husband's office- to an embarrassing degree.

So what makes you think many people won't feel exactly the same about Jeri Thompson's behavior ?

It seems to me the safer course would be just a tad more discretion... especially at this early stage where crucial first impressions are being formed.

Posted by Jazz | August 4, 2007 11:13 AM

I find myself left wondering why this is even getting any virtual ink in the blogosphere from either side of the aisle. The MSM? Ok, I can see that. Any story with pictures of Fred's wife immediately move copy or increase hit counts. With no offense intended to her, let's face the facts... the woman's easy on the eyes. Plus, if they can work in the "trophy wife" angle, which may or may not hold any water depending where you draw the age line for trophy wife status, that has that bit of nasty, desperate housewives kind of flair that the MSM loves.

But from the blogosphere's point of view, what traction is to be gained from covering stories like this on either side? If you're a Democratic supporter, it would be fairly foolish to complain about her involvement given the history of Hillary Clinton as previous commentors have already noted. And from the Republican side, the reverse is true. Hillary was (and still is) such a hated figure among the Right wing that turning around to *defend* Fred's wife's involvement in the campaign (because, let's face it, this would definitely pave the way for a very "active" first lady a' la' Hillary) smacks of hypocricy.

If she is as qualified to work on national campaigns as the information claims, just make sure that she's on the payroll and being tracked and accounted for like any other worker and leave it at that. It takes the whole "wife - campaign aide - cum 1st Lady" question out of the forumula.

Posted by FedUp | August 4, 2007 11:24 AM

And the problem here is... ??? Anyone remember whathisname... John... John Edwards... or, was that Elizabeth? Who's in charge there?

Posted by filistro | August 4, 2007 11:29 AM

Good questions, Jazz.

I think this is part of a "define the candidate, then reinforce the definition" game, which is as old as politics.

It's devastating, too, because it always targets some personal characteristic that will resonate with every voter, even the most politically uninformed.

Best of all, there's no need at all for it to be true.

Thus, once Gerald Ford was defined as "clumsy" (though he was probably the most athletic president in history) then every picture of him setting a foot wrong served to reinforce the image. And every time Chevy Chase fell down a flight of stairs it remained (apparently) howlingly funny.

Same with Josh Edwards. The $400 haircut, which has destroyed any chance he might have had as a serious contender, would not have gotten traction at all if he had not first been skilfully defined as vain and lightweight.

If Fred Thompson can be defined early on as a tool in the hands of an ambitious younger wife (and people are working hard on it already) then everything Jeri Thompson does in the future will reinforce that image, and it will torpedo the Thompson campaign.

As I said, just a bit more caution and discretion early on would help them to avoid this dangerous trap.

Posted by filistro | August 4, 2007 11:30 AM

JOHN Edwards....

Posted by Devil's Advocate | August 4, 2007 11:44 AM

The Media's criticism of Republican wives is getting to be obnoxious.

Sadly, they would all notice the bias immediately if any of this were said about Elizabeth Edwards or Obama's wife.

But, this is the typical liberal mantra.

Devil's Advocate
Copious Dissent - Your Daily Dose of Liberty

Posted by cirby | August 4, 2007 11:54 AM

"So what makes you think many people won't feel exactly the same about Jeri Thompson's behavior ?"

Many people will hate everything she does, no matter what she does. If she took no part in the campaign and just showed up, people would be bitching about how she's a useless trophy wife. If she did a lot of things, but not work on the campaign, she's be "a Hillary wannabe with no political savvy." If she healed the sick with her touch and raised the dead, they'd complain because she was practicing medicine without a license.

She's apparently a smart and talented woman with a good personality. Why not use her for the campaign, since the Left is going to hate her anyway? It would be a good deflector for a lot of the liberal rage that's going to be oozing out over the next year and a half.

Posted by filistro | August 4, 2007 12:05 PM

cirby, I really don't see anybody doing much complaining about Laura Bush. Even liberals seem to love her.

(I certainly love her, though I have no use at all for her husband and his neocon cronies.)

Peggy Noonan says Laura's appeal is the fact that she doesn't appear to have "hungered for the job".... she does her duty with grace, responsibility and good humor, but gives the impression she'd really rather be back home in Texas, reading books and enjoying her family.

In the same column (this week's column, in fact) Noonan gives what I consider to be a definitive statement on First Ladies:

Candidates for the first lady's job have to find a balance. It's delicate. Strong is good, aggressive not. A person who cares, yes; a person who pushes an agenda, no.

Posted by athingortwo | August 4, 2007 1:33 PM

Captain Ed, trying out for the role of the Great Oz, commanding us thusly:

"Pay no attention to that (wo)man behind the curtain!"

Ed - you're trying to have it both ways, as a couple other posters have already noted. On the one hand, it's supposedly a non-story that the candidate's wife has mounted a palace coup to completely take over his Presidential campaign, and that most of Fred's faithful campaign servants have been quitting or getting fired right and left before he's managed to even get to the point of announcing when he's going to announce that he's going to someday announce something worthy of being called an "announcement".

On the other hand, you say what a great asset Mrs. Fred is and that she really OUGHT to be running the show ... and the implication of that is, in the great tradition of BJ and Her Thighness, Mr. & Mrs. Fred will eventually run the country as a "TwoFer".

The FredHeads can't have it both ways, and since Toto has already pulled the curtain aside, it's either TwoFer Part II, or bust.

Frankly, TwoFers aren't very attractive as governing executives ... pretty much implies that we get less than a full load with the front half of the TwoFer.

Posted by athingortwo | August 4, 2007 1:42 PM

The new FredHead campaign slogans"

"Vote for Fred! And get one Jeri Free!"

"Vote for Fred! He's less than meets the eye!"

"Vote for Fred! If you don't Jeri's gonna kick yur ass!"

and my favorite of all:

"Screw Fred! Vote for Jeri!"

Posted by Bennett | August 4, 2007 3:31 PM

I think that whenever anyone runs for President of the United States, pretty much everything should be fair game, except possibly the candidate's minor children if he or she has any. It's the most powerful job in the world and we're stuck with whomever we get for at least 4 years. So let's see and hear it all.

This article doesn't seem like a hatchet job to me anyway and at least it's actually about the Senator's campaign. Like somebody said once (don't remember who) "Politics ain't bean bag".

Posted by richard mcenroe | August 4, 2007 3:57 PM

"Yes, just imagine how tolerant the Republicans would have been if if Hillary had gone to Bill's campaign office, taken attendance and read the riot act to malingerers."

...and who said she didn't?

Aw, c'mon Cirby! EVERYONE knows Hillary just sat around the White House kitchen, trying to get her breath back after Bill cheated on her...

Posted by Ray | August 4, 2007 4:48 PM

Mrs. Thompson is actively involved in her husband's life? She's a "a former political consultant" and is "taking an active, hands-on role" in her husband's career? Good, because that's what married couples are supposed to do; help each other in their public and private lives. Let the press bring up these kind of "controversies" as it makes her even more attractive to the general public.

Posted by hermie | August 4, 2007 7:14 PM

First they make crude remarks about her a 'stripper poles'; then they call her a 'trophy wife'; and now the story is that she is trying to take over the campaign.

Considering that Jeri Thompson had been a political consultant well before she married Fred, I think that to not take advantage of her expertise would be even more foolish.

Posted by jaeger51 | August 4, 2007 7:23 PM

So what's new? Remember, this is the unbiased media. We've just had seven years of Bush is the stupidest idiot that ever lived, can't talk or tie his shoes without help...and he's also capable of implementing a master plan for world domination including completely faking 9/11 with no leaks.

Posted by Thomas Jackson | August 5, 2007 5:38 PM

Hmmm, somehow the hit pieces on the Thomas campaign smell of desperation on the part of the dhimmierats. Thompson offers voters a clear choice between the Hildabeast and her Lady MacBeth role in government and Thompson conservative principles.

This clearly must not be allowed to happen. So when do we get the hit piece on Thompson's dog; parents; and religious beliefs?

I winder where all those articles were when the Clintionistas proclaimed the Hildabeast as co-president didn';t have time to report on her representation of the Black Panthers; her college thesis; or her failure to pass the DC bar despite being told how brillant she was despite her non-record of actually winning in court.

Just more examples of why no one bothers with the MSM.

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