Fred answers the "fire in the belly" question

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At a campaign stop in Burlington, Iowa, earlier today, Fred Thompson answered a question from a voter about whether he truly has the desire to become president. He pointed out the financial and family sacrifices he has made to make this run, as an indication of his desire to be president, but he also says he's not consumed by personal ambition. Thompson is running because many people wanted him to run, and because he thinks he has "the background, the capability, and the concern" to serve as president.

It's such a good answer, and it so captures what I like about the man's character and attitude that I've reproduced the entire answer below, but I've bolded the bits that I especially like.

[THIS IS A BEST-EFFORT TRANSCRIPT OF THE SPECIFIC QUESTION AND ANSWER] Q: My only problem with you and why I haven't thrown all my support behind you is that I don't know if you have the desire to be President. If I caucus for you next week, are you still going to be there two months from now?

...In the first place I got in the race about the time people normally get into it historically. The fact of the matter is that others started the process a lot earlier this time than they normally do. I think it was for some of them when they were juniors in high school.

APPLAUSE

That is a very good question, not because it's difficult to answer, because, but I'm gonna answer it in a little different way than what you might expect.

In the first place, I wouldn't be here if I didn't. I wouldn't be doing this if i didn't. I grew up very modest circumstances. I left government, I and my family have made sacrifices for me to be sitting here today. I haven't had any income for a long time because I'm doing this. I figure that to be clean you've got to cut everything off. And I was doing speaking engagements and I had a contract to do a tv show, I had a contract with abc radio like I was talking about earlier and so forth. I guess a man would have to be a total fool to do all those things and to be leaving his family which is not a joyful thing at all if he didn't want to do it.

But I am not consumed by personal ambition. I will not be devastated if I don't do it. I want the people to have the best president that they can have.

When this talk first started, it didn't originate with me. There were a lot of people around the country both directly and through polls, liked the idea of me stepping up. And of course, you always look better at a distance, I guess.

But most of those people are still there and think its a good idea. But I approached it from the standpoint of a deal. A kind of a marriage. If one side of a marriage has to be really talked into the marriage, it probably ain't going to be a very good deal for either one of them. But if you mutually think that this is a good thing. In this case, if you think this is a good thing for the country, then you have an opportunity to do some wonderful things together.

I'm offering myself up. I'm saying that I have the background, the capability, and the concern to do this and I'm doing it for the right reasons. But I'm not particularly interested in running for president, but I think I'd make a good president.

Nowadays, the process has become much more important than it used to be.

I don't know that they ever asked George Washington a question like this. I don't know that they ever asked Dwight D. Eisenhower a question like this. But nowadays, it's all about fire in the belly. I'm not sure in the world we live in today it's a terribly good thing if a president has too much fire in the belly. I approach life differently than a lot of people. People, I guess, wonder how I've been as successful as I've been in everything I've done. I won two races in TN by 20 point margins, a state that Bill Clinton carried twice. I'd never run for office before. I've never had an acting lesson and I guess that's obvious by people who've watched me. But when they made a movie about a case that I had when I took on a corrupt state administration as a lawyer and beat them before a jury. They made a movie about it and I wound up playing myself in the movie and yeah I can do that.

And when I did it, I did it. Wasn't just a lark. Anything that's worth doing is worth doing well. But I've always been a little bit more laid back than most. I like to say that I'm only consumed by very, very few things and politics is not one of them. The welfare of our country and our kids and grandkids is one of them.

If people really want in their president a super type-a personality, someone who has gotten up every morning and gone to bed every night and been thinking about for years how they could achieve the Presidency of the United States, someone who can look you straight in the eye and say they enjoy every minute of campaigning, I ain't that guy.

So I hope I've discussed that and hope I haven't talked you out of anything. I honestly want - I can't imagine a worse set of circumstances than achieving the presidency under false pretenses. I go out of my way to be myself because I don't want anybody to think they are getting something they are not getting. I'm not consumed by this process I'm not consumed with the notion of being President. I'm simply saying I'm willing to do what's necessary to achieve it if I'm in sync with the people and if the people want me or somebody like me. I'll do what I've always done in the rest of my life and I will take it on and do a good job and you'll have the disadvantage of having someone who probably can't jump up and click their heels three times but will tell you the truth and you'll know where the President stands at all times.

It reminds me of the attitude that Tom Coburn has brought to his service in Congress. He would much rather be back in Oklahoma delivering babies, but, like Thompson, he is concerned about the country that we will leave to our children and grandchildren, and he is willing to do what he must to get elected and serve with integrity.

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My grousing about the "fire in the belly" MSM moron-meme is resonating* around the blogosphere. Michael Bates had talked about it here, and Anwyn linked me in this post. Even Allah admitted I had a point, but he's such a... Read More

5 Comments

W. said:

That's a good answer??? You have to be kidding me.

Fred, if you keep saying you don't really want the job, don't be surprised if becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Would you ever hire *anyone* who approached a job interview with the same lackadaisical approach?

Sheesh. No wonder he's falling so fast in the polls. Even no-chance Ron Paul is outpolling him in New Hampshire.

W., he said he wants the job. He's not out for the title or the perks and he's not going to pretend to be someone he's not to get the job, but he wants to be president because he thinks he's the kind of leader we need right now and because a lot of other people thought the same way and told him so. If he didn't want the job, he wouldn't be trudging through Iowa in the middle of the Christmas season, forgoing his income, and spending time away from his family.

Let's turn what he said 180 degrees around: Would you really want a president who had made being president his life-long goal, who was willing to makeover his personality to win the election, who cared more about the title and the acclaim than the substance of the job?

Phil W said:

Thanks for this post. It's good to read his thoughts on this. I'd hate for him to lose just because he doesn't have the flash and bang to gain the attention of some voters.

Twatch said:

I think the concern is if the inspiration for a presidential run comes solely from supporters then the campaign will drift and flounder waiting for supporters to respond when hurdles arise.

Jan Thomas said:

I agree with you Michael. I am glad to see the whole statement as the news programs have only picked up on the one part that says he is not consumed. They didn't take the time to air the whole comment. Thanks for putting that up in the blog.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 29, 2007 10:57 PM.

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