The New York Times catches a whiff of Fredmania, and lays out a fairly straightforward look at his potential candidacy. Fred’s main problems are a shortage of experienced campaign personnel–most of whom have already committed to other candidates at this point– and cash:

“I just wonder how he is going to start this late and have the campaign infrastructure, local organizations on the ground in the early states and raise the money,” said Charlie Black, a senior Republican strategist who is backing Senator John McCain. “Celebrity doesn’t pay for an airline ticket to Des Moines.”

And those are serious problems; no matter how much Fred! shows up on Technorati, a lack of ready corporate funds and multi-thousand-dollar donors is going to cramp his style.

But you didn’t click the headline to read about that.

…at a private meeting a few weeks ago with House Republicans, he answered questions about his reputation as a man about town during his eight years in the Senate, a period when he was single after his divorce from his first wife. Mr. Thompson was asked bluntly if any activities from his first marriage or his time in the Senate would come back to haunt him or his backers.

According to those attending, Mr. Thompson assured them there were no problems, but conceded that when he was single, “I chased girls and girls chased me.” Mr. Thompson is since remarried, and he and his wife, Jeri, have two young children.

Well! Having met Senator Thompson once, I know he has a great deal of charisma, but I wouldn’t have pegged him as a “babe magnet”. Nonetheless I had known that he had been “romantically linked”, as the tabloids say, to country-music siren Lorrie Morgan, the sultry lass pictured on the Hot Air homepage (and daughter of old time countrypolitan crooner George “Room Full of Roses” Morgan). Miss Morgan seems to bear Fred no ill will; she spoke well of him to Larry King in 2004:

KING: Didn’t you also go out with Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee?

MORGAN: Yes, I did.

KING: Who now is the star of Law & Order?

MORGAN: Yes, he is.

KING: Fun guy. Lifetime bachelor.

MORGAN: Yes. Well, no he’s married.

KING: Now he’s married?

MORGAN: Now he’s married. And has, I think, a little girl.

KING: Nice guy.

MORGAN: Very nice guy. Very down-to-earth. And just a great guy. One to be proud to call a friend.

So, will Fred!’s Senatorial extracurriculars make a difference? As his star rises, I’ll bet there will be some gossipworthy revelations in that department, but I suspect they would have to be pretty lurid to have any impact. There may be admiration, there may be jealousy, there may be disapproval. But I’ll bet even the most austerely religious voters will overlook a stretch of serial monogamy from a single Senator–especially if that Senator has the decency to blush about it. And as long as nothing too weird, creepy, or caddish emerges.

Because, setting aside our particular doctrines and ethics, we all know that how a man treats women says a lot about his character. Whether or not this is an issue will depend on whether Senator Thompson conducted his affairs as a gentleman, or whether we are instead talking about some priapic D.C. soap opera starring Fred the Rampaging Bald-Headed Sex Monster.

But somehow I don’t think Miss Morgan would have put up with that sort of thing.

UPDATE: CONTENT WARNING–for immature audiences. Ace has started up a “Cool Facts About Fred Thompson” thread. These tend to get more than a little saucy, so proceed at your own risk.