If I hear one more Republican say that Fred Thompson is “Reaganesque” because of his acting background and communications skills, I am going to scream. We have finally disabused the liberals of that silly notion, and now many Republicans are mouthing it too.

Surely you must remember the critique of Reagan from the 1980s through the Clinton era, to wit: He was a shallow man who did what his staff told him to do. Unlike the “deep thinkers” of the Clinton administration, Reagan was intellectually lazy, BUT as an actor he read his lines cleverly and never missed a cue. His policies were never as popular as him, meaning that he “ flim-flammed” the public for eight years and got by with superior acting skills.

Now, we know the rest of the story. The publication of Reagan’s diary, speeches and old radio scripts  show a man very much in charge of his own administration. Reagan himself noted that “People said I was a great communicator. I think the real truth is that we communicated great ideas.”

And that brings us back to soon-to-be candidate Thompson. He will not be successful because of his communication skills and Hollywood training. Republicans who believe that are part of our party’s identity crisis. That was not why Reagan was successful. Thompson WILL succeed if he provides a plausible agenda for Americans to embrace, ideas that will help make a difference in their lives by making government more rational and responsive. THAT is how Reagan succeeded. He communicated great ideas.
Today’s candidates should take note.