It is amazing how politicians we have not even elected yet can manage to so thoroughly disappoint us.
How can anyone get so confused that he could forget the name of any third federal agency or cabinet department worthy of elimination? There are so many. I bet I could name dozens. And he failed to start with the BATF!
Governor Perry is a clearly a good guy, and he has a terrific record in Texas that he could be running on, but this kind of thing simply will not do. You can’t flub in public like this and be elected president. I’m afraid it’s time to call this candidacy off.
We Republicans have got to get our act together before the New Year and get behind a viable conservative, or it’s going to be Mitt Romney.
I think I’m going to open a recession-proof new business: Professor Z’s Public Speaking and Elocution Lessons for Provincial Republican Governors Aspiring to the Presidency. Graduates are guaranteed to say “noo-klee-ar” not “nook-yu-lur.”
Byron York reports approvingly that Rick Perry (who has suffered in popularity due to his non-stellar debate performances) intends to skip some of the excessively numerous upcoming GOP debates (that not many Americans watch anyway).
Perry opened the subject Tuesday night when he told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that it might have been a mistake for him to take part in the debates. “These debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates,” Perry said. “So, you know, if there was a mistake made, it was probably ever doing one of the [debates] when all they are interested in is stirring it up between the candidates instead of really talking about the issues that are important to the American people. …”
I think myself that this is another case where Rick Perry demonstrates both independence of mind and good judgment. A competition for the smoothest and safest 30 second sound bite in what amounts to a liberal press-arranged melee of mud-slinging by Republican candidates at one another is not really terribly useful or a very meaningful test of qualifications for the presidency.
On the contrary, Perry’s ability to see through the charade and to understand what really matters and what doesn’t is far better evidence that he is likely to make sensible decisions as chief executive and commander in chief. A president’s ability think for himself and possession of sufficient courage to set aside false expectations and pointless conventions matters infinitely more than how glib he is, or how pleasing his voice. Barack Obama speaks beautifully, but he is obviously utterly and completely incapable of thinking or operating outside the Weltanschauung of the left-wing community of fashion. Obama is ineffective as president, and is trapped in a pattern of self-destructive political behavior, precisely because he lacks that kind of independence of mind and is simply a captive of his ideology.
The ability of the media to spin never fails to astonish.
They’ve managed to take the last debate (in which Republican rivals piled on Rick Perry), a meaningless Florida straw poll (which came out favoring Herman Cain), the former name of the location of a Perry family hunting camp, added some polling of their own (by CBS), and all the suckers are convinced that Herman Cain is the Republican front runner. Right!
The morale is: read the news a little less frequently and a lot more skeptically.
The bottom of an antique souvenir saucer presents the image of similarly named topographic feature in Virginia.
The Washington Post set some new sort of record for opportunistic associative campaign smear reporting, by proceeding to headline a story informing its readers at length that Rick Perry hunted deer and entertained guests at hunting camps belonging to family and friends located in rural spot, known locally decades ago as “N-word-head.”
Wikipedia identifies the origin of such toponyms and mentions their date of extinction on official US maps.
In several English-speaking countries, Niggerhead or nigger head is a former name for several things thought to resemble a black person (“nigger”)’s head.
The term was once widely used for all sorts of things, including products such as soap and chewing tobacco, but most often for geographic features such as hills and rocks. In the U.S., more than hundred “Niggerheads” and other place names now considered racially offensive were changed in 1962 by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.
Nor did “N-word-head” survive as the name of the area in which the Perry and Reed families’ hunting camps were sited. At some unknown point in the past, again decades ago, someone unknown removed and painted over the sign once identifying a rural Texas location by that name.
The Post obviously had no reason to believe that either Rick Perry, or any member of his family, had named the area “N-word-head.” The Post had no reason to believe that Rick Perry, or any member of his family, had erected a sign consisting of a rock with the “N-word-head” name painted on it. The Post had no reason to attribute any kind of meaningful responsibility for the existence or use in the distant past of that toponymic expression to Rick Perry at all. But associating a conservative Republican presidential candidate with the N-word, even so tangentially, is a way of flinging a big handful of mud at him, and who knows? Some of it might get into some voters’ heads and actually stick.
As an example of political opposition politics, or of journalism, this kind of thing is about as unethical, low, underhanded, cowardly, and despicable as you can try to get away with. I notice that the reptiles and invertebrates that wrote this contemptible story did not even sign their names to it, and I’m not surprised.
Herman Cain dramatically diminished my liking and respect for his candidacy yesterday by jumping right in and trying to make hay by using this bilge. Screw him.
Maureen Dowd compares the prospective 2012 electoral contest between Rick Perry and normal American Republicans and Barack Obama and the coastal pseudo-intellectual elites to the rivalrous friendship of Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) and Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) in John Ford’s 1962 film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”
In the film, rugged rancher and man of violence John Wayne befriends the tenderfoot, man of peace, attorney James Stewart and defends him against the outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). When the code of manhood obliges Stewart to stand up to Marvin in a gunfight. Wayne, well of aware of Stewart’s incompetence, casually plugs Marvin with his rifle from ambush at the crucial moment in the gun duel.
John Wayne chivalrously lets Stewart receive the credit for ending Liberty Valance’s local reign of terror, which carries Stewart onward into a political career ending in the US Senate. He even stands aside and allows the lawyer (who owes him his life) to marry the girl he loves.
John Ford means his film to depict his own vision of tragic Historicism, in which manly bravery and larger-than-life frontier individualism is inevitably swept away by Progress and the advance of Civilization. John Wayne’s character is obviously the better man, but he is not the man of the future. He steps aside for Stewart because he recognizes it himself.
The John Wayne character isn’t only more competent than the Jimmy Stewart character, he is wiser and nobler.
The secondary tragedy of the movie is revealed when the Stewart character who has returned in old age, covered with success and honors and still married to the girl, to the frontier town which was the original scene of events for the Wayne character’s funeral.
Jimmy Stewart tries telling the whole story of the shooting of Liberty Valance to a young reporter, and revealing that his whole career has been built on another man’s deed, and the newspaper’s editor declines to print it. â€œWhen the legend becomes fact,â€ the editor says, â€œprint the legend.”
There is no expiation in confession for Stewart. His life has been built upon a lie, and he supplanted a better man in his wife’s affections, and he knows it.
Dowd simplifies John Ford’s narrative into the conflict between the Eastern egghead and the anti-intellectual.
At the cusp of the 2012 race, we have a classic cultural collision between a skinny Eastern egghead lawyer whoâ€™s inept in Washington gunfights and a pistol-totinâ€™, lethal-injectinâ€™, square-shouldered cowboy who has no patience for book learninâ€™.
Dowd goes on to examine, and find unworthy, Rick Perry’s college grades.
Studying to be a veterinarian, he stumbled on chemistry and made a D one semester and an F in another. â€œFour semesters of organic chemistry made a pilot out of me,â€ said Perry, who went on to join the Air Force.
What a pity it is that the Egghead Barack Obama has never seen fit to release any of his college or law school grades for comparison.
The self-flattering interpretation of the political conflict between democrats and Republicans, between Maureen Dowd and the rest of the community of fashion and ordinary Americans, and potentially in 2012 between Barack Obama and Rick Perry as the conflict between the forces of book learning and the uninformed is doubtless gratifying to New York Times’ readers, but personally I think the claim of members in good standing of our establishment culture to represent learning and intellectuality has a lot of problems.
The kind of learning that most of these people boast isn’t book learning at all. It’s merely Cliff Notes summary familiarity with names and what they’re famous for.
Our establishment elite does not draw its understanding and conclusions from a reservoir of learning in the traditional Western canon. Our establishment is commonly hostile to that canon, deprecatory of its value and significance, and characteristically Philistine. Establishment judgments and conclusions come much more commonly from a consensus produced by newspaper editorials and articles in journals of opinion.
Our community of fashion is not intellectually inquisitive or critical. On the contrary, it is herd-like and conformist. And it is profoundly intellectually reactionary, being totally and entirely committed to defending late 19th century ideas revolving around Utopian ameliorism effectuated via the rule of scientific experts operating under a rubric of collectivist statism.
People who are gullible enough to believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming, people who have failed to notice Socialism’s failures, people who still think that Keynesian economics will get you out of a recession are not smart. They are dumb.
The democrat party and the American community of fashion are comprised not of Eggheads, but of pseudo-intellectuals and muttonheads.
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 â€” 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 didnâ€™t hurt him. East Coast pundits really need to get over the idea that Perryâ€™s views on the science of climate change and evolution will hurt him â€” not in a country in which very large numbers of people share Perryâ€™s skepticism. Mind you, Iâ€™m not endorsing Perryâ€™s positions, only saying that â€œscienceâ€ 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 itâ€™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 â€” at least it hasnâ€™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 wonâ€™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.
Paul Waldman, at the American Prospect, warns metrosexual, urbanista liberals that those evil Republicans are up to it again, turning to a manly, rough-spoken representative of the American West, a cowboy type, to appeal to the anxiety-afflicted white male voter. Have they no shame?
Bush may not have been much for book learninâ€™, but he appreciated the power of political iconography. The cowboy, he knew, is perhaps the most potent American archetype, the hero whose story speaks to everything many Americans want to believe about themselves and their country. And today, the newest star of the Republican party has more cowboy in his little finger than Bush had in his whole beingâ€”for better and for worse. As a candidate, Texas governor Rick Perry will be enacting a particular performance of masculinity, one that will resonate powerfully with some peopleâ€”especially white menâ€”even as it alienates others.
Within a few days of announcing his candidacy, Perry was already displaying his particular flair for the provocative. Asked for his thoughts about Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, Perry seemed to suggest a lynching, then asserted that if the Fed conducted another round of quantitative easing to boost the economy, it should be considered a crime punishable by execution. â€œIf this guy prints more money between now and the election,â€ Perry said, â€œI donâ€™t know what yâ€™all would do to him in Iowa, but â€¦ we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money, to play politics at this particular time in American history, is almost treacherousâ€”or treasonous, in my opinion.â€
It was colorful but not surprising to those familiar with Perry. As Texas journalist John Spong wrote, â€œâ€˜Treat him pretty uglyâ€™ is, in fact, the way we talk down here. Weâ€™re prone to violent imagery, typically without the intent to actually hurt anyone.â€ Perry has built his career on being more conservative than anyone else around, and in a particularly Texan fashion. If thereâ€™s one recent bit of heroism heâ€™s proud of, it would probably be the time last year when out jogging, he shot a coyote that he said was menacing his dog. (What, you donâ€™t pack your .380 Ruger when you go for a run?) Today, it seems that every other story about Perry (see here for an example) is illustrated with that photo of him hoisting a pistol in the air, mouth open in a whoop, as though he were Yosemite Sam in a suit.
The intimation of violence in Bushâ€™s rhetoric was always vicarious; he might say â€œbring â€™em onâ€ about Iraqi insurgents, but he wasnâ€™t the one facing the fire. With Perry, you get the feeling heâ€™s personally itching to fight. Perry also comes by his cowboy image more honestly than Bush; he actually did grow up on a farm in a tiny Texas town. He is confrontational and combative where Bush portrayed himself as a â€œuniter, not a divider.â€ This is enabled by the fact that unlike when Bush was governor, Texas under Perry is almost a one-party state, so appealing to Democrats isnâ€™t necessary. To get a sense of how Perryâ€™s swagger goes over with some folks, consider this illustrative anecdote. You may have heard the story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted and executed for murdering his daughters by setting fire to their house, a crime of which he was almost certainly innocent. As Politico recently reported, when the campaign of Republican Senator Kay Baily Hutchinson, who was challenging Perry in a 2010 gubernatorial primary, considered raising the issue, they tested it with focus groups. One voter memorably told them, â€œIt takes balls to execute an innocent man.â€ Bred in the Southern culture of honor, where masculinity is forever tenuous and slights must be avenged quickly to save face, Perryâ€™s willingness to use violence, in rhetoric or reality, is close enough to the surface to be visible to all.
Violence and the culture of honor have always been key themes in cowboy mythology, which is less a construction of history than a production of the American entertainment industry. It was essentially invented by Buffalo Bill Cody, whose Wild West show toured the country and the world beginning in 1882. Actual cowboys may not have had duels at high noon, but the image of the lone gunslinger taming the lawless frontier was too compelling to worry about historical accuracy, and the popularity of Westerns only rose until its peak in the 1950s. â€œLast week eight of the top ten shows on TV were horse operas,â€ reported Time magazine in a cover story in March 1959, when there were no fewer than 30 prime-time Westerns airing on the three networks. Of the heroes of these shows, the magazine said, â€œTheir teeth were glittering, their biceps bulging, their pistols blazing right there in the living room; it was more fun, as they say in Texas, than raisinâ€™ hell and puttinâ€™ a chunk under it.â€
Why were cowboys so compelling at that moment in history? Consider the changing status of the American man in postwar America. As more and more breadwinners moved from the farm or factory into office work, upper-body strength no longer seemed so critical to personal or national success. If you were pushing papers all day, it wasnâ€™t so easy to feel like your job expressed and validated your masculinity. So dramas in which strong and brave gunslingers faced down villains while women swooned held a particular appeal. As one sociologist quoted in the Time article said, â€œHow long since you used your fists? How long since you called the boss an s.o.b.?â€ Whatâ€™s more, a Western hero â€œcannot be hagridden; if he wants to get away from women, there is all outdoors to hide in.â€
That appeal may not be quite as strong today, but it has never disappeared. And as a party that has long built its success on the votes of white men (44 percent of John McCainâ€™s votes in 2008 came from white men, compared to only 27 percent of Barack Obamaâ€™s), the GOP is drawn to arguments that play on male anxieties about strength and potency. Most recent campaigns have featured Republicans asserting that their candidate is manly and strong, while the Democratsâ€™ candidate is effeminate and weak.
Liberals sneered at Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush in just the same way for cheap exploitation of the simplistic cultural stereotype of the cowboy. Both won two terms. The problem from the liberal point of view is that the cowboy represents a highly positive image to most Americans, to pretty much all Americans not sitting in Starbucks reading The Nation.
Meanwhile John Ellis, at Business Insider, confirms that Paul Waldman is right to worry. Rick Perry has barely begun campaigning, and it looks very likely that Perry has already got the nomination sewn up.
The Republican “establishment,” such as it is, is quickly coming to the realization that the 2012 GOP presidential nomination is Texas Governor Rick Perry’s to lose.
He leads in Iowa and he hasn’t even really campaigned there yet. He’s running second in New Hampshire, which is all he needs to do. And he’s running comfortably ahead in South Carolina (again, without much campaigning), which is the gateway to the South.
The South is the base of the modern Republican Party. Perry has become, in less than a month, the Southern states’ de facto favorite son.