Archive for the ‘rick perry oops. rick perry forgot’ tag
Here is one of the more cogent commentaries about GOP primary presidential candidate Rick Perry’s recent “Oops” moment from the debate this week. If you haven’t seen it, here is the video of the awkward 53-seconds:
In the column, I think Matt Bai gets at the heart of Perry’s mishap:
The problem isn’t just that Mr. Perry was groping around on stage like a prairie dog in a hailstorm. …
The problem is that he didn’t seem to know the basic details of his own proposal. Here he was calling for what would be a truly radical restructuring of the federal government — involving many thousands of jobs and many billions of dollars in federal expenditures — and he didn’t have a grasp on which sprawling departments he would shutter. It seemed the idea was not his own, but rather something he had tried and failed to memorize.
I’ve heard the TV talking heads and people with whom I have spoken say things similar to, “Well, anyone can have a brain freeze or suffer from a mental lapse.” True, but as Bai again points out, cutting back the three government agencies — commerce, education, energy — is almost exclusively what has set Perry apart from the other GOP candidates. As Bai says,
… Mr. Perry violated one of the core tenets of modern politics, which is that you have to at least sustain the artifice of ownership. We know, of course, that presidential candidates don’t actually write their own speeches or stay up late at night tinkering with their own proposals to overhaul Medicare. We get all that.
But we do expect them to really believe in the things they propose — to have the requisite conviction to know and recite with passion the basic policies that someone on their team stayed up nights to craft. Say what you want about Mr. Bush, but no one ever doubted his deep well of resolve on tax cuts or education reform. He had command of his own plan, if not all the underlying data.
There’s nothing more central to Mr. Perry’s campaign than the idea of scaling back the government in Washington — that’s pretty much the whole tamale right there — and what he proved last night, in 60 or so agonizing seconds, is that he hasn’t thought deeply enough about it to even master the basics of his own agenda.
How is it possible that one could forget the central tenant of one’s plan to cut spending? I mean, that’s been his task-at-hand for months now. How is it possible that a presidential candidate, no less, could whiff on such a key component to his entire campaign. It’s as if Joseph Ratzinger, the pope, had just given a speech at the Vatican and in his preachments, failed to give nod to one member of the Holy Trinity. Perry isn’t trying to win a city, county or state seat. He is running for the highest office in the free world.
This latest episode (And this certainly has not been the only questionable moment in Perry’s run) shows: first, how the far right wing of American politics borders on the ridiculous; second, how the general political discourse has devolved (by 18th century standards) by many degrees downward into an intellectual morass; and third, how we as an electorate expect much too little from the people who claim they want to lead us. I mean, George W. Bush was a buffoon who thought he had God on his side and allowed his subordinates to dictate his courses of action in almost every case, but at least he knew his stance on the issues, articulated them (although in questionable grammar) and rarely — if ever and to a fault — did he falter in his convictions. This current bunch continues the buffoonery, while lacking the charm and consistency, and are, clambering for election, apparently, just for the sake of being elected without a clear or coherent vision. It’s a waste and a disgrace to the legacy of the nation.
H.L. Mencken said it best, which was apparently misquoted as “People deserve the government that they get …”
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
Or, the succinct, harsher version from this blogger:
Idiots elected by idiots.
In short, until the electorate smartens up, don’t expect much from the elected. Hopefully at some point, the tide of the conversation will turn and the discourse will improve. But we are almost as far removed from that day as we are from 18th century politics, which makes 21st century politics look, at once, dumb, childish and astonishingly enough, brazen by comparison.