Fred Dalton Thompson dies of lymphoma

Former U.S. Senator, Senate Watergate Committee minority counsel, actor and presidential candidate Fred Thompson has died of lymphoma at the age of 73.

I was initially a very motivated supporter of Sen. Thompson's presidential campaign in 2008, but switched my support to John McCain after a conversation with Sen. Thompson on the Terry Schiavo case. Mr. Thompson, who had to make a difficult decision in a similar case with regard to his own daughter, couldn't see that the present system deprives terminally ill patients who cannot speak for themselves of protection against potentially predatory relatives who have a financial stake in withdrawing life support from them. He was also unable to see that while a thriving subspecialty of law focuses on the representation of such relatives in the initial proceedings I a lower court, comparatively few challengers to their claims have attorneys competent in that specific area of the law- and yet that once that lower court renders its verdict, challenges based on fact are thereafter precluded.

But I always respected the man, and valued his contribution to our civic life as much as I enjoyed his career as an actor in TV and movies, most memorably as Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch on "Law and Order." He frequently portrayed figures of authority in the U.S. government, carrying his real-life gravitas into his performances.

He will be missed by a grateful contingent of the American public he served so well.