Perry Speaks, and The Money Gets Nervous

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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It's not just that Rick Perry screwed up in a debate. He is asking supporters to invest millions of dollars in his campaign. When savvy big donors have their phones in their hands about to send the money, they're all asking themselves the presidential timber question:

Has he got the stuff?

I've been working on a Perry story for what seems to me like a very long time. For that effort I interviewed Terry Sullivan (see correction below), a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina and executive director of a thing called the White House Transition Project, a nonpartisan group that gathers practical information from outgoing White House staffs after a regime change and puts it in a book for the staff of the incoming new regime.

"One of the things that we do is develop something called institutional memory for the White House," Sullivan told me. "So we interview all the people who have held the senior positions in the White House."

We were talking a month ago, right after Perry had already committed his first big gaffe, suggesting that Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke was "treasonous" and that people in Texas would "treat him pretty ugly," which sounded uncomfortably like a threat to beat him up, figuratively or literally -- pretty bad possibilities either way.

Sullivan pointed out that Bernanke's position in the scheme of things is extremely important to politics but also very important to The Money -- everybody in the world who's got some. Perry's remarks went everywhere instantly and gave lots of powerful people the willies.

"It's the kind of thing that presidents and people who want to be president simply cannot do," he said.

Sullivan gave me an example from the White House Transition Project that spoke presciently to Perry's more recent debate debacle and the resulting willies among wealthy backers. He described an exchange with a former Democratic deputy presidential spokesperson, whom he did not name, interviewed by the project after the spokesperson's regime had left the White House.

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"Sometimes I have no idea what's going on up there."
Sullivan told me: "He said, 'You know, I used to be the spokesperson for the speaker of the House of Representatives, the No. 2 guy in the American government, and reporters listened to me in paragraphs. I could say stuff and change my mind and edit it on the fly, and reporters were perfectly happy to let me do that.

"'Then I became deputy press secretary for the president, and people listened to me in syllables.'"

Sullivan's point was that every single discernible sound uttered by a spokesperson for the president, let alone the president himself, is seized and scoured for faults like a diamond in a jeweler's magnifying loupe. He said the former spokesman told him: "'There was nothing I could say that didn't go around the world at the speed of light.'"

That's why there are willies about Perry and his stumble-mouth tendencies. Sullivan said, "To be presidential, you have to understand that dynamic. This is something that I don't think Governor Perry appreciates."

Sullivan said something that I heard echoed by a number of people who have observed Governor Perry at close quarters. They all say, for better or for worse, he's still got the old A&M yell leader in him. He loves to make that crowd roar.

"He's used to saying off-the-cuff crazy-ass stuff, like seceding from the union and things like that that get him applause lines," Sullivan said. "He's used to applause lines.

"That's a huge danger in the president."

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Sullivan as the head of U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's campaign against Perry for governor in 2010. In fact, the Terry Sullivan who worked for Hutchison is a different guy and is now employed as deputy chief of staff for Florida Senator Marco Rubio. We apologize for the error.


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JimS
JimS

Scottindallas makes a good point. If you think it's going to be a Tea Party country, how dumb is it to preach Tea Party bullshit to the Tea Party?

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Christie's too smart to go up against a sitting prez.  Look for him in 2016.

Rooster
Rooster

I am just dumbfounded this clown has a legitimate chance at the presidency....

scottindallas
scottindallas

Perry isn't that dumb, don't discount the venality of the man. He throws red meat to the right wing which is a clever disguise for his backroom pandering.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

True.  Christie might eat one of the other candidates, which I would definitely find interesting.

Diana Powe
Diana Powe

Meanwhile, the smart money has been betting on Bernanke and profited:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/...

Those would be the same Treasuries that S&P downgraded and to which investors are still buying in droves.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Perry is a goner im glad to say. He and the rest of the nutjobs representing the republican party, outside John Hunstman who actually has some actual sense, are destined to hit the iceberg and sink faster than you can say Titanic. Heres hoping this also signals the beginning of the end of Perry's imperial reign here in TX as well.

Paul
Paul

I honestly don't know which is funnier, articles about Guvn'r Goodhairs adventures on the campaign trail or the problems that JWP's friends have with money.  Actually, both make me so sad that I don't know whether to laugh or cry.  Usually it ends up being both at the same time.

It's kind of like the old ranch hand coming up to his boss after a storm and saying that he has good news and bad news.  Of course the boss asks for the bad news first.  The hand goes, "Well with this drought there isn't any grass in the pasture to graze the bull."   The boss gets upset and goes "That ain't news!  What's the good news?"  The hand says "Well the windstorm knocked down the barn and killed your bull so we don't have to worry about grazing him."

"Next time I tell you not to vote for a governor from Texas for President, will you listen to me?" - Molly Ivins

Jerome Weeks
Jerome Weeks

Jim: Sullivan told you, quoting a former spokesperson for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, that the Speaker is the Number 2 guy in the federal government?

All right. Either Sullivan got it wrong, heard wrong, you typed it wrong or maybe the spokesperson just had a rather inflated notion of his boss. Or come to think of it, considering that the Speaker's post has often been filled by people like John Boehner, the likeliest explanation is that the Speaker had an inflated notion of his position in the order of presidential succession -- because he seems to have forgotten the vice president.

JimS
JimS

My friend, the Speaker has always been the second most powerful person in the government.

Sturms_Bloody_Rectum
Sturms_Bloody_Rectum

I think it was meant to read 2nd highest spokeperson position. 1=white house, 2=the speakers spokeperson. idk

Jerome Weeks
Jerome Weeks

OK, sure, I could go with that ... although, of course, that's not what he said.

Also, I'm wondering if your suggested ranking doesn't hold true when the Speaker and the Prez are from the same party. The press would most likely go to the top opposition party leader, whoever that is. It may seem like ancient history, but there have been plenty of Speakers who barely existed in the public mind. Sure, when it's Tip O'Neill vs. Reagan or Gingrich vs. Clinton. But does anyone remember Carl Albert? Dennis Hastert? Tom Foley?

JimS
JimS

Historians credit Henry Clay, elected speaker in1807, with making the office the second most powerful in government. In a discussionof Newt Gingrich published 1/5/97, the New York Times described the speaker’spost as “a position which is third in the line of successionto the Presidency and the second most powerful elected position in America.” This isnot controversial. It’s something people who have studied American politicalscience just sort of know.

 

JimS
JimS

Jerome, that's why people were surprised LBJ was willing to take such a power demotion to become JFK's VP. The VP is maybe the 537th most powerful person in the government, after the president, 100 senators and 435 representatives.

Sturms_Bloody_Rectum
Sturms_Bloody_Rectum

You think as the canidates numbers get smaller, the money really starts flowing in. It doesn't matter which side you're backing, as long as there is access in the short/long term.

heart and soul
heart and soul

Perry may be the dumbest candidate the Republicans have. That makes him a front runner in that party where they seem to like them dumb.

Today's Republican/Tea bag clown doesn't trust them sharp talkin' book learned types.

Augie
Augie

I wan to believe, but can't.  We've seen Perry way more down than this, yet he still manages to cruise through most elections.   I wish him nothing but the most complete failure possible, but, right now, I still believe he is a grave threat to becoming our next President.  Shudder.  

Guest
Guest

I often vacillate between hoping Perry gets the GOP nomination because he can't win it all and becoming terrified at the possibility that he might win it all. 

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

I'm thinking that Perry thinks he is above that kind of scrutiny.  That is, he is of the mindset that all press is good press.  Kind of the Donald Trump school of politics.

And if he continues to build a following, the money will flow to hedge bets if nothing else...

Phelps
Phelps

ws;dr

(Written by Schutze about Perry; didn't read)

jason
jason

U mad bro?

I can haz memes 2 bb.

Observist
Observist

Phelps!  Welcome back!  Can you tell us about some other stuff you didn't read?   

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Sounds about right for a typical "know nothing" Tea Birther Perry supporter.

Wouldn't want to learn anything new about Perry, the Constitution, evolution, American History, climate science, campaign finance,  the World, reality.

My favor Perryism was from the first debated when he said about our troops in Iraq, paraphrase:

 He would bring the troops homes, but they also needed to stay and finish the job.

Phelps
Phelps

Nah, just a safe assumption from the last three pieces being shots at Perry rather than anything resembling punditry or journalism, with the last before this being a naked hit piece.

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