Fred Dalton Thompson (born Freddie Dalton Thompson; 19 August 1942–1 November 2015) was an American lawyer, lobbyist, character actor and former Republican Senator representing Tennessee from 1994 to 2003. He was also an unsuccessful candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
- Where I stand doesn't depend on where I'm standing.
- I often say after eight years in Washington, I longed for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood.
- I'm not above acting like a seal every once in a while and waiting for the next fish, I just don't want to do it all the time.
- (full quote in context) Asked why he had not done more debates, Thompson replied "Standing up here 10 in a row, you know, like a bunch of seals waiting for somebody to throw you the next fish, is not necessarily the best way to impart your information to the American people. I'm not above acting like a seal every once in a while and waiting for the next fish, I just don't want to do it all the time."
- Ryan Sager (September 14, 2007). "Mr. Sunshine State". The New York Sun. Retrieved on 2007-09-21.
- The average 20-year-old serving us in Iraq knows more about their country's national security than the average 20-year political veteran serving in the Congress today.
- This country has shed more blood for the freedom of other people than all the other nations in the history of the world combined, and I'm tired of people feeling like they've got to apologize for America.
- Some of our folks went to Washington to drain the swamp and made partnership with the alligators instead.
- I thought Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. I think this platform originally came out as a response to particularly Roe v. Wade because of that. Before Roe v. Wade, states made those decisions. I think people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with. That's what freedom is all about. I think Roe v. Wade hopefully one day will be overturned, and we can go back to the pre-Roe v. Wade days.
- Meet the Press, 2007-11-05
- asked if he could run on the 2004 Republican Party platform supporting an amendment to the US Constitution overturning Roe v. Wade
- We are always just one successful terrorist attack away from a nuclear disaster
- Thompson, Fred (2007-12-18). "Iowa Campaign Speech "Hands Down"". Days Inn - Manchester, Iowa.
- We can't forget the fact that although at a particular point in time we never found any WMD down there, he clearly had had WMD. He clearly had had the beginnings of a nuclear program.
- Des Moines Register, October 1, 2007
At That Point in Time (1975)
The following are quotes from Thompson's 1975 memoir:
- Thompson, Fred (1975). At That Point in Time: The Inside Story of the Senate Watergate Committee. Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co. ISBN 0812905369.
- When five men were captured in the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee early in the morning on Saturday June 17, 1972 I had just completed a three-year stint as an assistant United States Attorney in Nashville. Ironically I had resigned the day before the break-in. I was about to become an unpaid political worker- the middle Tennessee director for the reelection campaign of Sen. Howard Baker. (page 3)
Loyalty to Baker
- I was operating under the theory that, even though Baker had been responsible for my appointment, I was representing all three minority senators-Baker, Edward Gurney of Florida, and Weicker. If differences arose within the minority there was no question about where my loyalty lay and whose directions I would take, but I believed that I should try to respond to the wishes of Weicker and Gurney in every way possible. (page 25)
Perception of Nixon’s involvement and the nation
- As I reflected further, I convinced myself that Nixon had not had prior knowledge to the break-in, nor of the cover-up that followed. Even if culpability reached dangerously close to the president, I reasoned, surely his top aides would have shielded him from damaging information, not just to protect themselves, but also to allow him to tell the nation, in the best faith, that neither he nor his chief advisors were involved. (page 39)
Warning the White House about the Watergate tapes
- After sleeping late on Sunday, I was back at my desk that afternoon. I had two prime considerations. First, I wanted to be certain that the tapes were not a trap for the committee or that there was a significant bit of missing information that we lacked; experience taught me that matters of this importance do not usually fall into your lap without more complications that are immediately apparent. Second, if our information was legitimate, I wanted to be sure the White House was fully aware of what was to be disclosed so that it could take appropriate action. Legalisms aside, it was inconceivable to me that the White House could withhold the tapes once their existence was made known. I believed it would be in everyone’s interest if the White House realized, before making any public statements, the probable position of both the majority and the minority of the Watergate committee. Even though I had no authority to act for the committee, I decided to call Fred Buzhardt at home. Buzhardt was the only White House staff member with whom I had had any substantial contact. He had been unassuming and straightforward in his dealings with me. He never tried to enlist me in any White House strategy, to suggest that I relay confidential information, or to so any of the things that were probably assumed by many of the so-called sophisticates in Washington. (page 86)
Tapes and the threat of wiretapping
- In hindsight, I have come to believe the discovery of the tapes may prove to be an historic event in more than one way. At a time when the United States government acknowledges that 2 million conversations were overheard by authorized eavesdroppers in a twelve month period, and at least an equal number were being recorded by private dectecies, suspicious spouses, corporate spies, special agents, and blackmailers; at a time when people like me conduct their lives under the assumption that their telephone lines are tapped; and at a time when devices such as the bug-in-the-martini-olive are proliferating, the disastrous consequences that flowed from Nixon’s fateful decision to record White House conversations may serve to awaken the nation to the threat posed to the little privacy that remains to us. (page 92)
Off-the record meetings
- Not once did an off-the-record comment return to haunt me. For example, my relationship with Walter Pincus, editor of the New Republic, one of the nation’s most liberal magazines, developed to the point were he understood our conversations went off the record without my having to say so. I never divulged anything of great substance, but many of my comments about personalities and my own prejudices could have been extremely embarrassing had he (or others) betrayed my confidence. (page 236)
Impact of Watergate
- I looked down on a quilt of clouds, bordered on the horizon by the blood-orange streaks of the setting sun. As the steady hum of the engine drowned out the chatter around me, I realized that I would probably be thinking about the implications of Watergate for the rest of my life. For the country, and for me it had been a significant point in time. (page 263)
Teaching the Pig to Dance (2010)
The following are quotes from Thompson's 2010 memoir: Thompson, Fred (2010). Teaching the Pig to Dance: A Memoir of Growing Up and Second Chances. Crown Forum. ISBN 978-0-307-46028-8.
- Teaching Latin to someone like me in high school was somewhat like trying to teach a pig to dance. It's a waste of the teacher's time and it irritates the pig.
- My daddy always said that a man who walks around with a smile on his face all the time can't possibly know what's going on.
- I heard Senator Sam Irvin of Watergate fame say something that stayed with me: 'If you can paint a really good picture of a cow, you don't have to write the word "cow" under it.'
- Minor surgery is surgery that someone else is having
- They say that God protects drunks and children. I would add young morons to that list.
- "Dumb as hell" - Richard Nixon described Thompson as not able "to interrogate unfriendly witnesses and would be outsmarted by the committee's Democratic counsel." (see: The transcripts of the Nixon tapes published in "Abuse of Power: The New Watergate Tapes".)