Fred Thompson’s Red Pickup Truck

FRED THOMPSON’S RED PICKUP TRUCK….Noam Scheiber thinks that before long, everyone will have heard about the phony everyman schtick that Fred Thompson employed during his 1994 Senate campaign:

By the time Fred Thompson decides whether or not to join the presidential fray, you will have heard the story of his red pickup truck at least a dozen times. The truck in question is a 1990 Chevy, which the famed statesman-thespian rented during his maiden Senate campaign in 1994. The idea was that Thompson would dress up in blue jeans and shabby boots and drive himself to campaign events around the state.

Bob Somerby begs to differ:

[W]e’ll take a wild guess — no, you won’t “hear the story of his red pickup truck at least a dozen times” in the coming weeks. That’s because of an obvious fact: As a general matter, the modern press corps recites these tales only when they cut against Dems.

We’ll see. But in fact, the red pickup is even phonier than Scheiber and Somerby make it sound. Not only was the truck rented, but Thompson didn’t even deign to drive the thing himself. Here is Michelle Cottle describing a Thompson campaign event a couple of years later when he was running for reelection:

Seated in the audience is a childhood friend of mine….My friend stands talking with her colleagues as the senator is driven away by a blond, all-American staffer. A few minutes later, my friend gets into her car to head home. As she pulls up to the stop sign at the parking lot exit, rolling up to the intersection is Senator Thompson, now behind the wheel of a sweet silver luxury sedan. He gives my friend a slight nod as he drives past. Turning onto the main road, my friend passes the school’s small, side parking area. Lo and behold: There sits the abandoned red pickup, along with the all-American staffer.

Basically, he just drove the thing the final few hundred feet before each campaign event, and then ditched it for something nicer as soon as he was out of sight of the yokels. Quite a man of the people, no?