13 Sep 2011

Perry Not Hurt By What Punditocracy is Calling Gaffes

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Rod Dreher discusses Rick Perry’s ability to speak out loud forbidden thoughts, like calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme, and not only survive as a viable candidate, but defy efforts at excommunication and ostracism by the establishment College of Pundits and go on rising in the polls.

New CNN poll taken over the weekend shows that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has maintained his commanding lead in the GOP field — this after many pundits, including conservatives, dinged Perry for having had a supposedly bad debate last week.

Like Your Working Boy said, Perry won that debate. No question, he was not as smooth as Romney, but it clearly didn’t hurt him. East Coast pundits really need to get over the idea that Perry’s views on the science of climate change and evolution will hurt him — not in a country in which very large numbers of people share Perry’s skepticism. Mind you, I’m not endorsing Perry’s positions, only saying that “science” is one of those culture-war issues that gets elites (both liberal and conservative) worked up, but that mean very little to most people. Whether it should matter more is another question. While I disagree with Perry on these particular points, I do think it’s generally a healthy instinct that people are skeptical of what science says, insofar as technocratic elites have a penchant for appealing to scientism (versus science) to justify liberal policy preferences (e.g., embryonic stem-cell research). But I digress.

Nor did the supposed Social Security gaffe hurt Perry — at least it hasn’t yet. Why not? A couple of reasons, I think. The lesser reason is that people may not agree with him on Social Security, but they appreciate his willingness to stake out a risky position on the issue (and, truth to tell, they may well be confident that he won’t be able to do squat about it). I think the far more likely reason is that Cowboy Rick looks exactly like the kind of guy who is going to take the fight to Obama, and take it to him hard.

Actually, ordinary normal Americans are finding Perry’s willingness to defy orthodoxy, to refuse to truckle and triangulate, refreshing, and recognizing how much that sort of courage and independence sets Perry apart from conventional forked-tongued and conniving politicians, who are willing to do and say absolutely anything to get elected.

As to science, Americans outside the establishment community of fashion are simply too well equipped with common sense to be susceptible to catastrophist theories, no manner how many studies are brandished in their faces or how grand a consensus of experts is declared by the mainstream media to have ruled on the subject. Ordinary sensible people know perfectly well how biased and medacious the mainstream media is.

The notion that some kind of vital contest is underway in high school biology classrooms between Charles Darwin on one side and Archbishop Ussher on the other continues to have an irresistible appeal to the kinds of people who want to march us all off into a glorious future in which our lives and the economy will be ruled by scientific experts, but the rest of us are perfectly well aware that Evolution typically receives only a brief and passing mention in the course of one single class session and and that high school science courses do not actually concentrate their focus on converting believing Christians into secular materialists and supporters of Gay Marriage.

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