Kent Bush: Fred Thompson was smart enough to get off the political crazy train

Kent Bush
Kent Bush

Politics has come off the rails.

That really isn’t news. But as obvious as it is, it is equally sad.

Ted Cruz says only Republican voters can moderate Republican debates. Sure, I guess that makes sense if you want fawning questions delivered by sycophants who offer the candidates hugs if their questioning hurts sensitive feelings on that stage.

The Democrats are having debates with one real candidate and now the GOP is delivering debate demands for its litany of candidates who are very concerned about exactly who will ask the questions they will blatantly ignore at all debates going forward.

A reality television star who wears snapback caps and thousand dollar suits and a brain surgeon who acts as a spokesperson for a supplement company that claims to be the cure for autism and cancer are leading this field.

As a resident of Kansas for the past seven years, I saw Republicans talk about Dwight Eisenhower and Bob Dole as people who made Kansas politics great. But there is no way either man ever would have been elected in Kansas in the past decade. Both men would have been labeled RINOs – Republicans In Name Only – and would have been beaten soundly with attack ads by a much better-funded candidate from the tea party that worshipped at the altar of Charles and David Koch.

To make sure that we have had our ticket punched on the crazy train, those same billionaires will bring their political prowess to a live interview with a national cable new network. Nothing can be crazier than for them to take the stage with the Morning Joe gang from MSNBC. Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch can’t be happy about that.

No one wondered what happened to American politics more than Fred Thompson, who died Sunday.

In his acting roles, he forced the entire female workforce to walk off the job on the sitcom “Roseanne,” called Tom Cruise a monkey on “Days of Thunder” and was the conservative thorn in Jack McCoy’s side on “Law and Order.”

Thompson always kept his options open and moved pretty seamlessly between politics and show business. He won Al Gore’s seat in the Senate in Tennessee but didn’t have any desire to continue in that office and left the seat open in 2003 when his term expired.

“On important stuff, where the interests are really dug in on both sides, it’s extremely difficult to get anything done,” Thompson said at the time. That condition hasn’t changed much in the past dozen years.

He made a run at the presidency in 2008 but dropped out after he saw the writing on the wall.

Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson said in no uncertain terms that Thompson left politics because he “got tired of the crap.”

He hated the “kids’ stuff” and gamesmanship of the Washington D.C. scene. When asked what Thompson would do if he were a Senator today, Simpson kept it pretty simple.

“He would get up like a big bear and say, ‘What the hell are you bastards doing?’” Simpson said.

That is a great question.

There is no more show business in the movie or television industry in 2015 than there is in Washington, D.C. Every move those in Congress or the White House make is pure theater with little interest given to those legislation or inaction will affect and far more attention paid the donor class.

Congress would be better off with more no nonsense, common sense guys like Thompson still roaming the halls. Gone are the days of elected officials who can disagree without being disagreeable.

Men like Thompson can’t get elected any more thanks to a political climate where SuperPACs and billionaires write the rules and break them with impunity.

A favorite quote from Thompson captures that frustration perfectly.

“Some of our folks went to Washington to drain the swamp and made partnership with the alligators instead.”