Acting Like a President

Most politicians who make it to the White House have also become masters of the art of performing

Illustration by Barry Blitt for TIME

When some Republicans look at former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, what they see is the glory that was Reagan. "Fred Thompson, like Ronald Reagan, has the ability to bring conservative principles to the Oval Office," promises a draft-Thompson website. But there is another resemblance: Thompson, like Reagan before him, belongs to the Screen Actors Guild.

Political scientists speak of the communications skills of Reagan, Thompson and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but that is a tad solemn. Better to call what they do by its simple, professional name--actingso long as we acknowledge that most successful leaders have done their share of performing...

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