Governor Gaffe Comes Back to Texas, Wounded But No Wiser

Categories: Schutze

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Wait a minute. Forgive me, but I must misuse and abuse a bit of Dylan Thomas here to suggest we should not let Rick Perry go quite so gentle into that good night. I'm reading a lot of crap about how he bombed in his presidential campaign because he was "ill-prepared" and committed gaffes.

It's way worse than that. Rick Perry is a gaffe. He has prepared all his life to be a gaffe. And that's why he's our governor.

In 2009, when Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was preparing to challenge Perry in the 2010 GOP primary for governor, she was 25 points ahead of him in the polls. And that was no big surprise. In this reddest of red states, Perry had consistently run at the bottom of Republican tickets.

Every statewide post he'd ever held was handed to him by the party and lobby interests, beginning with ag commissioner in 1990 when Karl Rove recruited him for the toxin industry to run against Jim Hightower, who was preaching organics.

He was the Marlboro Man in TV ads. That got him elected. Barely. Until 2010. That year he kicked Hutchison's ass -- beat her by 20 points.

So how did he go from 25 points down to 20 points up on her? That's the question political analysts in Texas should be asking themselves. Why did we suddenly love him so much more? And why do we think now our love has faded?

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Well, maybe Jesus still loves him anyway.
Last October when I wrote about Perry's so-called Texas economic miracle (not a miracle, and he didn't do it), I interviewed Jason Stanford, a Democratic political consultant who happens also to be a great admirer of Perry as a campaigner. Stanford explained Perry's surge against Hutchison as no accident. It was in fact a brilliant tactical move in Stanford's view that left the high-end Republican establishment in Perry's adios-mofo dust.

Perry pulled it off, Stanford said, when his campaign consultant, Dave Carney of New Hampshire, persuaded him that the Tea Party was about to take over Texas. The Bush/Rove country-club Republicans like Hutchison didn't see it coming at all. They still thought the Tea Party was the stage version of King of the Hill. But the Tea Party in Texas was a freight train. If Perry could jump it, he could ride it right through that damned blue-blooded nose-in-the-air crowd that had never quite respected him anyway.

"He's down by a couple dozen points against this really popular lady," Stanford remembers. "He figures his only chance really is to say she's Washington, and then suddenly the pitchfork crowd comes up and says, 'We hate Washington.'"

Stanford says Perry's quick response was, "'Oh cool, here's my army. I shall lead them.'"

Perry starts talking about how Texas maybe should secede from the union. Hutchison is a pragmatic politician who can say a lot of stuff to win, but she's not going to say something like that. Life's too short.

Too bad for her. Bang! Within weeks of spouting the crazy Tea Party secession stuff, Perry pulls up even with her. In the weeks ahead, he doubles down on wacky, spouting all of the looniest borderline seditious Tea Party stuff about Washington being an oppressive foreign power run by strange non-American-seeming people.

Zoom! He pulls 20 points ahead of her! Hutchison announces she is rescinding her promise to quit the Senate in order to run for governor -- in effect a concession speech even before the vote.

When Perry beats Hutchison in the primary, it's the first time he has ever won an election that wasn't handed to him by the party elite. In fact he kicks the party elites' tush, thanks to the tricorn-hat people who think the president must have come here from another planet because he's black and smart at the same time.

Apparently Carney keeps pouring the same Kool-Aid and persuades him he can pull off the same stunt on the national stage. We see what happened.

But, look, our problem here in Texas is that we basically put him on the national stage in the first place by loving his craziest stuff. It was not the gaffes but the underlying message -- the one we loved -- that took him down when he tried to go national with it. Even conservative Republicans shrank from the radical Tea Party message that America is a wicked country fallen into the talons of some kind of French people or Africans or somebody else weird, that we need to rip up the Constitution, wage war on Mexico and Turkey and kick gay soldiers out of the military.

Those were not gaffes. Those were the core message that got him elected governor of Texas by a fat margin and made him think he could be president.

Now the analysts are writing about how he's going to come back here wounded by his national debacle. We'd better hope that's the case.

But in order for Perry to be wounded here by his experience on the national stage, Texas would have to have escaped the thrall of the Tea Party loons. Why would we think that?
There's just as good a chance we'll suspend our own constitution, slap a spiked helmet on him and declare him Emperor Rick.


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34 comments
Borborygmus
Borborygmus

HARDLY A FUNERALWhatever will happen to Perry? Can't you see?He's setting himself up to be Newt Gingrich's V. P.!By stepping aside, out of the primary raceHe's throwing his weight (and his great face)Behind the Silver Fox. The chances for MittTo sweep this runoff may have taken a hit.Rick Perry has everything Newtie could needThe conservative voter, and lots of money indeed.But now who's stepping in, Chris Christy with cape,The Rescue Republican, he'll help them escape.By bringing in MIA moderates they hope,And halt the run of a Reagan-esque dopeLegendary dealmaker (did himself quite well,Except for his marriages, they didn't end swell).And the factor that Wall Street really does fearThat regardless of party, a tax increase is near.

dt&ot
dt&ot

The tea party started kind of OK. Financial like.  You know, stop taking so much of my money.  Then it was highjacked by the social conservatives and turned into another quasi christian moral mandate movement.  Until the republican party seperates chruch from state, they will not appeal to the majority.  Look at Newt.  Talk the social convervative talk, never mind the walk and you will still get the votes.  RP will never get the Republican nod (too Perot) but at least you get the idea what he says is what he actually thinks. 

LaceyB
LaceyB

He'll never learn from those mistakes. Contributing: al thoose edumicatshun cutz. Bravo, Rick! Oh, and PLEASE QUIT your day job!

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

There's another reason Hutchison dropped big time. Video surfaced of her supporting a new assault weapons ban. Anti-gun stances are not allowed for Texas Republican candidates. And, good luck getting elected to a state-wide Texas office (whether you are a Republican or Democrat) if you have an anti-gun history.Part of what cost Ann Richards the election when she ran against GWB was the fact that she had vetoed the first attempt at concealed carry legislation in Texas. That cost her quite a few votes.

Guest
Guest

What was always interesting to me is how close Perry came to losing when he first ran for Lt. Governor in 1998. He got 50.05% of the vote against John Sharp during a campaign when George W. Bush (running for re-election) got 68.24%.

With a less popular governor on the ticket, we might have all forgotten about Rick Perry by now.

Augie
Augie

If this version of how history happened is correct, what does that say about us, the collective majority of Texas voters us?  

Montemalone
Montemalone

Goodhair wins without a majority. Gov races have had multiple candidates. In a 1-on-1, he'd lose to a Socialist.

Rangers100
Rangers100

That our culture is dominated by yokels.

Paul
Paul

"I told you not to vote for a Governor from Texas as President.  Thanks for listening to me this time." -- Molly Ivins (sort of)

dallasmay
dallasmay

You forget, the reason people started disliking him was that he was too liberal. He defended Texas's immigration policy for students. That was too much like obama for the majority of Reps. His bubble burst then. 

JimS
JimS

Good point, Dallasmay. I guess I think his Gardasil and School for IIlegals stuff also served as too great a contrast with his ultra-right stuff, and in that contradiction people may have glimpsed the truth about him -- that he's an opportunist, and there's not really much there there. But it is certainly true that even his most crazy material wasn't enough for the crazy wing of the Republican Party. I am hoping and praying right now that this principle will defeat Romney at the last minue and give us a Gingrich candidacy. Look, I'm a Democrat.  What more could I hope for in a Republican canbdidiate than a serial-wife-dumping open-marriage hypocrite who looks likem a Chuckie doll when he gets mad? That's maybe better than Perry even.

dallasmay
dallasmay

I'm hoping for a Romney candidacy. Romney has a huge 5000 tonne elephant following him around. Here it is: Romney isn't a Christian.

Sure, Mormons, and Romney, consider themselves Christians but the majority of Christiandom does not recognize the LDS church as an acceptable branch of Christianity. So, the Christian Republican base will have to make a serious choice.1) Not vote for him on election day.2) Decide that the LDS Church is an acceptable branch of Christianity.3) Decide that politics trumps their religious beliefs.

Any of the three choices would have deep consequences in our society and culture, and it's a debate we need to have. And you can bet your bum a democrat supporting PAC will bring it up during the general election. Romney and the Republican establishment can't avoid it forever.

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

In terms of mainstream Protestant voting patterns, the decision between secular and spiritual considerations was made when President Kennedy ran for office. Southern Democrats in particular had to make the hard choice. Those people, most of whom voted for Kennedy, and their children became the Southern Republican base of today.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

Yes, but regardless of denomination, Santorum has positioned himself as the religious conservative candidate.  That's a large clump of single-issue voters who are in danger of slipping away if Romney becomes the nominee. 

dallasmay
dallasmay

Yes, I understand there are quite a few differences. Some much more substantial than the one you list above. Like that Mormons don't believe in the divinity of Christ. (That's kinda a big one, in my opinion.) But my point was that most Christians don't know much of anything about the LDS church.  

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

Maybe  because they believe the Garden of Eden was located in Missouri. This location would make the Missouri River,  the Tigris river, which puts Enoch near the Gulf of Mexico. 

dallasmay
dallasmay

Most Christians are okay with Catholics. Catholicism is considered an acceptable branch of Christianity. Mormonism is not. Now, most Christians wouldn't be able to tell you WHY they don't include the LDS church, they just know that they've been told that it's not the same. 

mmarks
mmarks

Santorum isn't an evangelical. He's Catholic. (And personally, I think Catholics are way scarier than Mormons.)

dallasmay
dallasmay

Be careful what you wish for, my friend. Right now our nation's religious tolerances is one of the most stable aspects of our society. Sure, we ruffle feathers every now and then, but over all religion is pretty quiet and individualized. You might want to think twice about shaking that up too. 

dallasmay
dallasmay

Actually, I think that if we really did have that discussion, the result would be my #3. of course my #3 has been the reality for conservative Christians for years, but they have never really been forced to admit it. 

To bring the subject back to Perry, he himself suggested #3 as a likely possibility. Remember his disgusting homophobe ad? Well the media of course ran with the anti-gay message, which is what they were supposed to do, but there was a much more subtle message. Rick Perry said something like, "I'm a devout Christian, but you don't have to be a Christian to..." Think about that. A major Republican candidate said "you don't have to be a Christian". That's a major step toward secularization. 

JimS
JimS

I would welcome a muscular public debate on who's a Christian and who is not. Part of it would have to involve a discussion of the "Word of Faith" prosperity gospel movement among Pentecostals and other fundamentalists. Last time I checked in, the big debate was whether the Prosperity doctrine folks are a hard cult or just a heretical movement. But if we're going to  do a big theological pat-down on the Mormons, let's frisk everybody.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

That sort of ridiculous Christian in-fighting is going to be extremely amusing.

dallasmay
dallasmay

I don't know. I think he is going to need to pull off more of a JFK rather than a McCain.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

Romney will just pick Santorum as his VP candidate to reassure the evangelicals. 

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Mormonism, meh.  Romneycare is his real Achilles heel.  How can you debate Obamacare when you have to refute your own record?  Romney '12 = Kerry '04.  Fail.

Bob
Bob

I believe Hutchinson saw the governorship as her retirement job and she ran a lazy campaign.

Bill Lumbergh
Bill Lumbergh

I still don't believe that his Presidential ambition was that grand. Someone offered to foot the bill and he decided to go along for the ride. Nothing more.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

He probably wanted veep.  He might get it, but after "oops" I doubt it.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I dunno, Perry's dumb enough to follow in Biden's "Giants to the Super Bowl" in San Francisco footsteps.

Phelps
Phelps

I love the Perry Stuff.  It's like Alex Jones in Jellies.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

First chink in the armor for the Ultimate Political Survivor.  I doubt he's even on anyone's list for veep at this point.  Maybe Energy Secretary?  Oil & gas would looooooooooooooooove that. 

Still, unless the Dems can offer a credible alternative, he looks to be Texas gov for as long as he wants the job.

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

If Perry accepts a position as secretary one of the government departments he wanted to abolish, then he's the ultimate political opportunist. And a bigger fraud that he already is. 

Guest
Guest

Does it count if it's one of the departments he forgot he wanted to abolish?

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