FRED THOMPSON IS A VERY MANLY GUY. And Michael M. Rosen is a very hackish writer. His op-ed in yesterday's Politico is mind-numbing in its sheer pseudo-serious inanity. Read it and learn why:

Conservatives should like Thompson for his manliness

In his book on manliness, a topic on which he's widely recognized as the national expert, Harvard's Harvey Mansfield wrote that "a manly man asserts himself so that he and the justice he demands are not overlooked."

This textured understanding of masculinity -- i.e., that men (in the true sense of the term) act, but act for justice and on principle -- can aptly be used to understand the phenomenon that is potential Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson. The former senator from Tennessee conveys a certain seriousness of purpose married to an authentic and thoughtful expression of principle that has rapidly become appealing to many conservatives.

Thompson is actually an intellectual heavyweight

Contrary to his depiction in the media as a slacker, Thompson's contributions to the American Enterprise Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations and the State Department's International Security Advisory Board attest to his intellectual heft. His stints as a talk-radio guest host and a sometime columnist for National Review Online showcase the thoughtful, conservative ideas he's been percolating for decades. The senator's recent commentary covers everything from gun control to Hamas to the Libby prosecution to the "flying imams." Thompson appears to be a man of thought and action; his "principled manliness" transcends mere machismo.

But the other GOP contenders are all pretty manly dudes too

Without question, Big Fred faces challenges on many fronts. The recent reshuffling of his (pre-)campaign staff will only exacerbate his already late start in the contest; meanwhile, his principal competitors -- all of whom are both principled and masculine in their own ways -- haven't yet begun to counterattack.

Interestingly, back in December 2005, Rosen seemed smitten with Mitt Romney. I guess the former governor just wasn't manly enough for this "attorney in San Diego."

--Steven White