Perry Has it Both Ways on Every Issue

September 13th, 2011 at 11:29 am | 30 Comments |

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Last night’s debate showed that, in 2012, Rick Perry may be what Phil Gramm was in 1996: an overrated, negative candidate with a lot of money who goes nowhere very fast.

It gives me no pleasure to say that. I am not committed to any one of the GOP presidential candidates. But no one could watch CNN’s excellent debate and conclude that Perry is ready for prime time.

As Fred Bauer and Corey Chambliss point out, that’s because Perry won’t engage. He won’t talk specifics. He won’t tell us what, exactly, he would do as president. He’s all blow-hard rhetoric and obfuscation signifying very little.

Moreover, like former Texas Senator Phil Gramm, Perry is kind of a downer. He has a negative message. He simply wants to “make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can.”

Gramm talked about forcing able-bodied Americans “to get out of the wagon and help the rest of us pull” the wagon. GOP primary voters were underwhelmed and unimpressed and thus forced Gramm to “get out of the race” altogether.

Perry’s problems were most notable on Social Security. Perry did say, finally and belatedly, that he won’t take Social Security away from those who now depend upon it. But what he would do to reform or restructure Social Security remains a mystery. As Mitt Romney observed,

the real question is: Does Governor Perry continue to believe that Social Security should not be a federal program, that it’s unconstitutional; and [that]  it should be returned to the states — or is he going to retreat from that view?

We don’t know. But what we do know is that Obama and his team will exploit Perry’s Social Security ambiguity and weakness big-time in pivotal states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona.

Unfortunately, Social Security isn’t the only issue where Perry tried to skate by on airy and platitudinous pronouncements. When it came to his controversial mandate for HPV vaccinations, Perry spoke literally out of both sides of his mouth.

He admitted a tactical error (“I made a mistake by not going to the [Texas] legislature”), but said that the policy was right:

At the end of the day, this was about trying to stop a cancer and giving the parental option to opt out of that. And, at the end of the day — you may criticize me about the way that I went about it, but at the end of the day, I am always going to err on the side of life. And that’s what this was really all about for me.

Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, though, would have none of Perry’s equivocation and doublespeak. They jumped all over the hapless Texan, and deservedly so.

Bachmann: “The question is: is it about life, or was it about millions of dollars, and potentially billions, for a drug company?” Perry’s former chief of staff, she explained, was the chief lobbyist for the drug company, Merck, that stood to make millions of dollars from his executive order mandating the HPV vaccination.

Ditto Santorum: “I think we need to hear what Governor Perry’s saying. He’s saying that his policy was right. He believes that what he did was right. He thinks he went about it the wrong way. I believe [his] policy is wrong… [It] is big government run amok.”

The government mandates vaccinations against communicable diseases, Santourm explained; but HPV is not a communicable disease. (It is spread through sexual contact.)

Worse yet, on Afghanistan Perry showed that there is no daylight between him, Jon Huntsmann and Obama: They would all work to effect a rapid American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Well, I agree with Governor Huntsman when we talk about it’s time to bring our young men and women home and as soon and obviously as safely as we can. But it’s also really important for us to continue to have a presence there.

Again, the Perry doublespeak! As with most things, he’s for it, but he’s also against it. If, however, you cut through Perry’s rhetorical evasions, he’s saying that we should continue to help Afghanistan, but not with our military.

Of course, this is makes no sense and betrays a real ignorance of the world in general and Afghanistan in particular: Because without American boots on the ground, aid workers surely will be targeted and unwilling to venture forth in Afghanistan to dispense aid.

To be sure, Perry wants to “make a transition to where that country’s military is going to be taking care of their people,” but that will take many years to fully effect. What does Perry propose we do in the meantime?

The real unanswered question is: Why is Perry running? What motivates him? Where does his passion lie? What banner does he hold high? States rights?

If Perry thinks he’s gonna win the 2012 presidential election on a platform of states rights, then he’s even more clueless than his weak debate performance last night suggests.

John Guardiano blogs at www.ResoluteCon.Com, and you can follow him on Twitter: @JohnRGuardiano.

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30 Comments so far ↓

  • ottovbvs

    Read this as Guardiano is as panic stricken as the rest of professional Republican operatives at the prospect of a Perry candidacy. You reap what you sow John.

    • balconesfault

      lol – I was thinking the same thing. This piece (and the proliferation of anti-Perry pieces on FF) speak directly to a desperation that something must be done to keep Perry from rolling into Super Tuesday with enough momentum to put this away early.

      But a few key points.

      a) Rick Perry isn’t Phil Gramm. Gramm was a PhD economist with a significant legislative history, and he was physically unattractive with wholly uninspirational personal and oratory styles.

      Perry is … well, not a PhD economist. He is attractive in the GOP mold. And both his personal and oratorical styles do seem to be tuned in to the frequency of the average Tea Party voter.

      b) The GOP electorate of 1996 is not the GOP electorate of 2011. Enough said.

      • Smargalicious

        Here’s the most important point: the anti-God pro-homosexual doofuses are terrified over Perry’s chances.

        It’s soooo lovely to watch. Hee!

        • more5600

          By Doofus, I suppose you mean educated Republicans that stand in the long tradition of the party.

        • Houndentenor


          Obama’s best chance for re-election is to run against a wingnut like Bachmann, Palin or Perry. Our worst fear is someone like Christie who is a grown-up and could appeal to moderates. But please, entertain your delusion because you are giving Democrats what they want…an unelectable challenger for the oval office.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Look, I am glad that JG is looking at Perry critically, but I can’t let this pass:

    The government mandates vaccinations against communicable diseases, Santourm explained; but HPV is not a communicable disease. (It is spread through sexual contact.)

    As to cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine. HPV causes over 70% of cervical cancers, a cancer that is entirely preventable with the HPV vaccine. Bachmann and Santorum imply that HPV is evidence of promiscuity. If that’s true, then 80% of American women are promiscuous; 80% of American women are infected with some strain of HPV by age 50. For many, this isn’t some academic exercise. I know someone whose sister died of cervical cancer 14 years ago. If the vaccine had been available and women had been encouraged to take the vaccine, she almost certainly would be alive today. How many women will not receive the vaccine and needlessly die as the result of Bachmann’s and Santorum’s neanderthal attitude.

    The vaccine had an opt out option, any parent could simply say No and that would have been it, but Bachmann and Santorum believe it is inexcusable for the government to allow parents to have a choice. Go head and let that sink in for a second

    While Perry was defending the completely reasonable vaccine program (isn’t public health and safety a concern of government?) they had the camera on Santorum, who had a look of disgust…his upper teeth visible in a kind of sneer of disgust that was reminded me of a look someone has when they see vomit. Santorum really is an ugly man, inside and outside. And Santorum’s own rebuttal, that vaccines should only be provided by government when they prevent airborne contagions, was shocking in its stupidity. And he finished with Perry should have offered an opt-in and not an opt-out, at best it is semantic nonsense, at worst it is burying a worthy government initiative in bureaucracy.

    And Romney’s reason as to why hispanics should vote for him? Why, pretend that they don’t exist or have their own concerns. If anything Perry was the only candidate who came out with some chance of connecting to hispanic voters, now Romney has no choice but to offer up the VP slot to Rubio and then be overshadowed by his own VP

    • ottovbvs

      “Santourm explained; but HPV is not a communicable disease. (It is spread through sexual contact.)”

      Oh don’t you communicate when you have sex then Frump? Given that on any given day millions of Americans are doing it, of course it’s communicable disease.

      • Frumplestiltskin

        otto, that is funny, I was quoting JG and as to whether JG communicates when he has sex I have no desire to speculate on the matter.
        As to a few other posters, such as smarg, I am sure it is more in line of “nice doggy” or “baa baa baby lamb”

        • ottovbvs

          Sorry about the misapprehension. I’ll have to assume Guardiano does it by phone or email. Or the silent bonk in the night.

    • wileedog

      I don’t know, I think you may be giving Perry too much credit. This is a man who sleeps perfectly well while innocent people are being executed in his prisons, I have a tough time not thinking Bachmann may have been closer to the mark. Maybe it wasn’t the $5,000 donation that spurred this idea (and in fact that number seems to have been kept suspiciously low for a company the size of Merck), but perhaps there were other concessions or agreements made behind closed doors before Perry had this sudden embrace of the Nanny State.

      • balconesfault

        It didn’t hurt Merck that they’d hired Perry’s former Chief of Staff as their lobbyist.

        I doubt that you’ll see many GOPers attacking Perry for that, however.

    • balconesfault

      From Bachmann’s and Santorum’s POV, vaccinating those girls against HPV is giving them one less thing to be scared about when considering having sex. Not a good thing…

      • kuri3460

        Bingo. There is always going to be opposition from the abstinence-only crowd over any sexual topic that doesn’t start and end with “wait until you’re married”.

        The reality is that these HPV vaccines encourage promiscuity to about the same degree that air bags and seat belts encourage reckless driving.

  • Watusie

    I’m amazed and more than a little bit confused that the same people who thought that George W. Bush was a good president are coming out against Perry, who is cut from exactly the same cloth….

    • balconesfault

      Well, they didn’t work for Perry’s dad.

      Also, while they’re not going to dwell on it, Perry’s religious alliances are far more worrisome to someone who doesn’t think America should be declaring itself a Christian Nation first and foremost, with all other denominations simply guests here.

      Finally, Bush was willing to pretend to be some kind of compassionate conservative in order to get elected. Perry is having none of that … fitting the mood of the Tea Party perfectly. Frum et al aren’t really worried about Perry the President as much as Perry the Candidate.

  • Slide

    Watusie // Sep 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm: “I’m amazed and more than a little bit confused that the same people who thought that George W. Bush was a good president are coming out against Perry, who is cut from exactly the same cloth….”

    Maybe this is the reason;

  • Anonne

    Perry is the Tea Party’s id. He is the macho, no regrets, no retreat, freedom-lovin’ folksy southern Christian cowboy. He can have it both ways because he is not appealing to logic, he is appealing to emotion. He can get higher office and more power (and by extension more $) by ingratiating himself to the irrational core of the Republican party.

    As I read about these debates (I can’t stand to watch), all I keep hearing in the background is Sheryl Crow’s Strong Enough: “Lie to me, I promise I’ll believe…”

  • medinnus

    Besides, its not as if the Tea Bagger have a fact-based platform or agenda.

    • drdredel

      Quite the contrary, they’re actively dismissive and derisive of facts. Anything that’s not backed wholly by gut or instinct, and relies on reason or data is deemed elitist, and jettisoned in favor of things that “feel right”.

      Honestly, I’ve never seen (or even heard of) anything like this in my lifetime. It’s genuinely confounding.

      The HPV debate is a perfect one. I have no idea what Perry’s motivations for the program was (and have to admit that I’m not all that familiar with what it entailed), but if the above comments are correct, and it was simply a state funded global vaccination program, that still allowed for parents to opt out, what could POSSIBLY be the downside here?
      Next perry’s going to come out in favor of clouds being white and water being wet and Santorum (hands down the most despicable of the whole bunch) will sneer at him and say he’s fallen for the naturalist conspiracy.

      • nuser

        “That still allowed for parents to opt out”
        There was no option, whatsoever, this was an executive order!
        Yes it would be wonderful to have a vaccine for cancer, but you can not order a mandatory
        one on a fairly new vaccine(gardasil).Some of us do not follow Bachman’s reasoning(if you can call it that) , but object to not having a choice. Does anyone remember thalidomide?

        • Watusie

          Parents were allowed to opt out of the vaccine for health or religious reasons. However, no such provision was made for Perry’s “transvaginal ultrasound” law, which requires that girls and women seeking a legal medical procedure can’t have it unless they first get a large condom-covered probe stuck up their vaginas, followed by a patronizing lecture. Imagine having a 13-year-old daughter with a life-threatening pregnancy and being unable to shield her from this additional level of trauma on top of everything else.

        • nuser

          Thank you Watusie. I suspect you have a bright humane mind. It is so simple . Choice, that is all . I have had a cancer vaccine(mytomycin), but only with my permission. Seven years gone by , and still fine. Did you know gardasil is suitable for boys as well? Of course Republicans will say , well that is just for gays. It is not!It is all a crock my friend.

        • drdredel

          As I said, I’m not entirely familiar with the circumstances, but my understanding is that there was an opt out provision, be it religious or whatnot. And yes, this vaccine is new, but it’s actually pretty thoroughly tested, and if it does have hidden side effects yet to be discovered, it’s hard to imagine that they would be as bad as cervical cancer! However, that’s neither here nor there… I honestly can’t believe I’m defending Perry! what the hell has the world come to.

        • more5600

          The opt out option was available but schools did not have to admit any student who did not receive the Government mandated vaccine. So you really had to opt out of a lot more than the vaccine.

  • hisgirlfriday

    Interesting that you bring up that other prominent Texas Democrat-turned-Republican opportunist, Phil Gramm, in comparison to Perry.

    His attempts to portray Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” come from the same angry, mean-spirited place as Gramm’s comments about a “nation of whiners” during the 2008 campaign when he was advising McCain to ignore the people who wanted Washington to do something about the economy.

    And it was Perry’s connection to Phil Gramm that led to him considering a plan as governor to sell Phil Gramm’s UBS the rights to take out life insurance policies on Texas retired teachers, essentially placing bets on their lives.

  • Graychin

    “Why is _______ running? What motivates him? Where does his passion lie? What banner does he hold high?”

    The Republican candidate about whom I have the hardest time answering that question is… Mitt Romney.

  • Oldskool

    Perry is the ideal R candidate. He’s got the look, the swagger, he’s mean and he’s half-bright. He’s Reagan, Nixon and Shrub all rolled into one.

  • mannie

    Well, he may be stupid, but he sure do smell nice!!

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