The American Prospect has already been there and done that but the New Republic wants in on this action, so here you go. It’s behind a reg wall so I can’t quote too much; suffice it to say, the diagnosis is part Daddy complex, part Napoleon complex, part whatever the hell it was Champ was feeling for Ron Burgundy in “Anchorman” when he said, “I miss your musk,” and part good ol’ fashioned teh ghey:
Certainly, the Thompson talk in both cyberspace and the traditional media is a study in hero worship, with grown conservatives swooning like cheerleaders smitten over the manliness of the varsity quarterback. There is much rejoicing about the senator’s growling voice, his studly cigar habit, and his physical size. My favorite bit of macho Fred-worship making its way around the Internet is a widely circulated joke about the title of the recent film 300, in which a small troop of Spartans holds the line against the massive Persian army: “If Fred Thompson had been at Thermopylae, the movie would have been called 1.” (Reading posts like this, it’s unsurprising that, according to USA Today, 64 percent of Thompson’s supporters are male, the highest percentage for any presidential hopeful.)
Credit Sullivan at least for a little creativity in this area — in his formulation, it’s Fred who’s the gay one, notwithstanding his long and celebrated list of distaff D.C. conquests.
The piece goes on to claim that Fred might not be “manly” enough for the hard work required of a presidential candidate given his reputation for laziness and suggests that it’s not really Fred himself whom Republicans want to gay it up with but rather his character on “Law & Order.” So why link it? Because there’s an honest to goodness bit of news in there. They say “trophy wife”; I say cherchez la femme:
[L]ate last year, after fellow Tennessean and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced that he would not run for president, those closest to Thompson once again began whispering in his ear about bigger, better things. Perhaps the most influential of these whisperers has been Thompson’s second wife, Jeri Kehn Thompson.
If Thompson’s first wife put him on the path to law school, it’s widely acknowledged that his second wife is the one driving his presidential run. Blonde, bodacious, and 24 years younger than her husband, Jeri is often sniffily referred to as Thompson’s “trophy wife,” but she is clearly more than that. A one-time Senate staffer and spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, Jeri is regarded around Washington as politically shrewd and fiercely ambitious on behalf of her spouse. In the wake of Frist’s announcement, Jeri promptly contacted Republican p.r. veteran Mark Corallo about serving as her husband’s spokesman and raising his profile inside the Beltway. More recently, after lefty filmmaker Michael Moore took a public poke at Thompson, challenging him to a health care debate and criticizing his penchant for embargoed Cuban cigars, Jeri brought the issue to her hubby’s attention and urged him to call up a friend with a video camera and record his now-famous 30-second Web response. (In it, a cigar-chomping Thompson says he’s too busy to meet with Moore, but wryly warns him to watch his step lest his “buddy Castro” decide to toss him in a mental institution as he has other documentarians. “A mental institution, Michael. That’d be something you oughta think about,” intones Thompson with a meaningful arch of his brow.) Last month, at a reception for party bigwigs and top donors that preceded the GOP gala in Richmond, Jeri diligently stood in line to meet and greet every person in attendance. “She’s been one of the key players,” confirms Tom Ingram.
The more I read about her, the more I think it’d be cooler to land Jeri for a Vent than Fred.