Fred Thompson, 1942-2015

In 1993, I was sent to Nashville by Esquire Magazine to write a profile of Fred Thompson, who was about to undertake a run for Senate in Tennessee. I arrived and spent a day digging through the archives of the city’s two newspapers to find out whatever I could about him. I knew he had been a lawyer in private practice and had become a movie actor by accident following a stint as minority counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee. I remembered having watched as Thompson asked White House official Alexander Butterfield the question whose answer ultimately led to the downfall of the Nixon administration — a question about whether there had been a secret taping system in the White House.

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Fred Thompson, 1942-2015

Must-Reads from Magazine

The Niger Ambush and the Neoconservative World

The demands of the post-9/11 world.

On October 4, four U.S. Special Forces soldiers were killed amid an ambush by Islamist insurgents in Niger. In grief and shock, Americans are starting to ask why the United States is so extended abroad, even to places like Sub-Saharan Africa where our geopolitical interests are unclear. Something went wrong in Niger. It is incumbent on both the press and Congress to seek out answers as to what happened. Without jeopardizing it, American voters deserve to have a fuller understanding of the U.S. mission in North Africa. Some, however, have used these deaths to vindicate their preexisting antipathy toward American troop commitments abroad. The impulse to posture scandalized about U.S. forward positioning is not just logically flawed; it is reflective of a misunderstanding of America’s role in a post-9/11 world.

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$32 Million? Oh, Really? No, O’Reilly

Podcast: A misconception about the war on terror.

On this week’s first COMMENTARY podcast, we stand agog at the personal $32 million payout by former #1 cable news star Bill O’Reilly and what it means about the sexual harassment scandals and the way they are changing the rules. Then we move on to simpler matters, like American foreign policy and the ambush in Niger. Give a listen.

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John Kelly Changed the Game

When Trump fights on values, he wins.

For approximately 18 minutes, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly accomplished the impossible: He got America’s journalists and political opinion writers to shut up and listen.

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Bush’s Finest Hour

More than just Trump.

On Thursday, George W. Bush delivered a speech at the “Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In The World” event in New York City. Headlines are touting the speech as an attack on Trumpism. That’s accurate, so far as it goes. But it’s clear from Bush’s words that he was aiming for (and achieved) something loftier than yet another complaint about the 45th president. Bush was making the case against the pervasive discontent that’s driven many citizens throughout the Democratic West to a politics of grievance and revenge. Trumpism is but one example.

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The Danger of the Me Too Campaign

Denunciations.

Silence, Wordsworth wrote, “is a privilege of the grave, a right of the departed. Let him, therefore, who infringes that right by speaking publicly of, for, or against, those who cannot speak for themselves, take heed that he opens not his mouth without a sufficient sanction.”

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