Last week, the latest in a string of political glad-handers traversing the Palmetto State in search of the White House made his second visit to these parts with an appearance at Alex’s Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant.

Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) spoke before a reasonably enthusiastic and racially non-diverse crowd (I’m not counting the employees) at the popular eatery before heading down to Sun City Hilton Head in Bluffton.

According to The Post & Courier, the former Law & Order star (and in the interest of fairness, I must say this is my favorite TV show) was quick to start off his remarks with an acknowledgement that it was good to be back “in God’s country again — part of my old neighborhood … [where] we still believe in law and order around here.”

He did not just say that, did he?

Thompson declaimed to the crowd, “With me, what you see is what you get. It’s always been that way.”

I wonder if he was making reference to disgraced President Richard Nixon’s assessment of him as “dumb as hell” when Thompson was chief GOP counsel to the House and Senate Watergate Committee, because I sure was.

Anyhoo, he went on, “I was a conservative yesterday, I’m a conservative today, and I’ll be a conservative tomorrow.”

Thompson brought up his 100 percent pro-life voting record, but I’ll give him that one since his first marriage to his high school-aged girlfriend was of the shotgun persuasion.

Thompson had quite a few more pearls of wisdom for the crowd. According to the Associated Press, Thompson said, “We don’t need to invent new ideas because proven ideas haven’t been around for a long time.”


Or this, “Keep taxes low and quit spending our grandchildren’s and their grandchildren’s money!”

I get more than a little tired of this sort of verbiage because having served in the U.S. Senate, Thompson knows or ought to know what a big load of garbage these kinds of statements are. Then again, the faithful keep lapping it up.

And then there was my personal favorite Fred-ism on foreigners: “On illegal immigration, enforce the border, secure the border, and enforce the law.”

Okey-dokey Fred!

Thompson did address the elephant in the room — the U.S. involvement in Iraq — by commenting, “I’ve got a plan for bringing our troops home from Iraq: win the war, then bring the troops home from Iraq!”

It amazes me that people swallow this nonsense and come back for more.

The Post & Courier quoted an Isle of Palms resident who said she was filming Fred’s appearance and that “I think the country could rally behind another actor.”

Now, given that the lady in question is a resident of that hard-scrabble world that is the Isle of Palms and expectations out there are quite different from the majority of Charlestonians, I was nonetheless stunned by the sheer vapidity of her statement.

Then I realized she was only responding to the vacuousness of her chosen candidate who has decided that it’s not only easier to debate symbols rather than issues, but it’s also far more successful than addressing the electorate as sentient beings.

We get the heroes we deserve, and unfortunately, this has become doubly true of our elected leadership.

Simple talk about complex issues will not a better South Carolina make.

Demand better, like the commercial told you years ago.