I guess it helps to get to know the enemy

by Kieran Healy on September 10, 2007

Fred Thompson provided a couple of hours worth of legal advice to the people who blew up were charged with the Pan-Am 103 bombing. Bear in mind that it’s OK if you are Republican, for any value of “it.”

What’s annoying, though, is the way something quite trivial like this — a mere curlicue on the ear of a minor gargoyle on a single buttress of the immense gothic Cathedral of WTF Has Happened Since 2001 — could have the potential to bother a Presidential campaign, whereas the ongoing renovations to said Cathedral are more or less settled doctrine, dirty fucking hippies excepted.

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The Road to Surfdom » Blog Archive » The Immense Gothic Cathedral of WTF
09.11.07 at 11:39 am



P O'Neill 09.10.07 at 4:24 pm

The story is a case study in the flaws of American political reporting, in which a procedural gotcha (“he worked for the Libyans!”) counts for far more than him being utterly unqualified to be president.


abb1 09.10.07 at 4:34 pm

But he gave them bad advice!


Barry 09.10.07 at 4:58 pm

p o’neill, that falls under the major renovations to the cathedral becoming settled doctrine clause.


lee b 09.10.07 at 4:59 pm

Kieran, please clarify: Is there anything wrong with giving legal advice to the people who blew up Pan-Am 103? I call that due process.

The second paragraph does not get you off the hook for the net-rootsy first one.


thag 09.10.07 at 5:15 pm

I was going to say something snarky about how you liberals can’t be satisfied.

As a joke.

Then before I could get in my fake-trolling, lee b in #4 beat me to the punch with a piece of real trolling.

Strange times we live in.


Shelby 09.10.07 at 5:18 pm

P O’Neill,

I can see how one might consider him a poor candidate, or ill-suited to the job, or ideologically abhorrent. But why is he “utterly unqualified” to be president, as opposed to (say) other lawyer/senators now running for the job, only with (D) next to their name?


ejh 09.10.07 at 5:27 pm

Why would anybody expect a US Presidential campaign to possess any content?


P O'Neill 09.10.07 at 5:32 pm

Thompson had so much time in his virtual campaign to come up with policy positions on the issues. And he manages something like the al-Qaeda smoking ban anecdote that left his Iowa crowd baffled? Or indeed his exhortation that “we better come up with a plan to deal with al-Qaeda.” I think Edwards and Clinton are doing better than that.

He peaked with Red October. Adam Schiff was a way better DA.


Shelby 09.10.07 at 6:15 pm

P O’Neill,

I reiterate, I can see how you may find him a poor candidate, or ill-suited. That has little to do with his qualifications; i.e. what he has done before, his previous accomplishments. Though if you think Adam Schiff should run, I’m open to that.


Matt Weiner 09.10.07 at 6:40 pm

Would a Blue Dog really have a shot at the nomination?


bi 09.10.07 at 6:42 pm

The really important questions are, of course,

(1) Did Fred Thompson commit adultery and then lie about it?

(2) Does Fred Thompson talk like a Texan?

(3) Is Fred Thompson fat?


Shelby 09.10.07 at 6:51 pm


Well, he’d sew up the Armenian vote.


c 09.10.07 at 7:16 pm

Will Thompson and his defenders agree that all accused terrorists deserve due process?


P O'Neill 09.10.07 at 7:34 pm

#13 — Speak of the Devil. Thompson said today that Osama should be killed after he gets due process, and also that —

the U.S. is a nation of laws, but judges “more often than not are the main violators of the rule of law.”

Ss I guess it can’t be due process from law breaking judges.



lee b 09.10.07 at 8:31 pm

Yes, I get the supposed point—gargoyle metaphor and all. But this post is the left-equivalent of a right-winger saying, “Obama’s middle name is Hussein. I mention that fact only because it’s symbolic of a the Dem’s softness on terrorism…”

Presumably right-wingers do not believe middle names matter. Presumably Kieran supports the rule of law. But this post and the ones about Obama are guilty of dressing up uninteresting but damaging information about the political opposition to—purportedly—make mundane political points.

Just calling ’em as I seem ’em.


Cian 09.10.07 at 8:32 pm

“Fred Thompson provided a couple of hours worth of legal advice to the people who blew up Pan-Am 103.”

I know this isn’t the point of the story, but it irritates me anyway. One of them was acquitted, the other was convicted in a trial that has been criticised by a number of senior members of the Scottish legal establishment including the Lord Advocate at the time. There are also a number of doubts about the forensic evidence, and a lot of pretty eminent people believe that they did not get a fair trial.


abb1 09.10.07 at 9:06 pm

Presumably right-wingers do not believe middle names matter. Presumably Kieran supports the rule of law.

Kieran doesn’t believe middle names matter. But presumably right-wingers do NOT supports the rule of law when dealing with the terrorist suspects.

No symmetry?


Danielle Day 09.10.07 at 9:14 pm

Honestly, you Brits. I think you are trying to be all pointy-headed and witty. However, the main post and comments just come across as obtuse. Except for some mild criticism of Mr. Thompson, I didn’t understand a word of it.



nope 09.10.07 at 9:59 pm


Matt Weiner 09.10.07 at 10:28 pm

“Adam Schiff” is the name of one of the Law and Order DA’s not played by Thompson, and also of a Representative from California who advocates for Armenian issues. Other than that, you’re on your own.


eb 09.10.07 at 10:56 pm

In a better world, Sam Waterston would run for President. As Lincoln.


Shelby 09.10.07 at 11:07 pm

Well, if we’re going into full-fantasy mode, how about Martin Sheen?


dogfacegeorge 09.11.07 at 12:35 am

“it’s OK if you are Republican, for any value of ‘it.'”

No, this theory has been falsified. “It” cannot consist of the act of tapping one’s foot in the adjacent stall.


Kieran Healy 09.11.07 at 1:50 am

No, this theory has been falsified.

Has he resigned yet?


tom bach 09.11.07 at 2:44 am

“Has he resigned yet?”

No, but he experimented in summer camp years ago.


Ginger Yellow 09.11.07 at 12:04 pm

Even if you don’t accept the dodginess of the Lockerbie judgement (disclosure: I do) it remains the fact that Fhimah was acquitted. It is simply factually inaccurate to say that Thompson provided legal advice to “the people who blew up Pan Am 103”.


Enemy mine 09.11.07 at 2:01 pm

Iran Air Flight 655 — July 3, 1988

Pan Am Flight 103 — December 21, 1988

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