Perry: Unprepared, Underwhelming

September 7th, 2011 at 11:14 pm David Frum | 118 Comments |

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The revelation from the Republican presidential debate: Rick Perry and his team utterly failed to prepare answers to utterly predictable questions on “military adventurism” and Social Security. Worse than that, Perry’s Social Security answer delivered President Obama the perfect clip for a 2012 negative ad: Rick Perry in his too-new suit and too-shiny tie denouncing Social Security as a Ponzi scheme. If Perry wins the nomination, expect to see that moment reiterated in as many TV ads as $1 billion in presidential campaign funds can buy.

Just speaking personally, I was shocked and surprised at how unprofessional Perry’s debate performance was. Nervous, irritable, stuttering, floundering, he missed opportunity after opportunity.

Rather than deny that he “struggled” with death penalties, why not say, “I pray over each and every one of these momentous decisions”?

How could a Texas governor be unready to talk about immigration?

And could Perry have invented a more stupid answer to the (eminently predictable) question about Texas ranking last among the 50 states in health insurance coverage? Perry blamed the rigidity of federal regulations – as if states 1-49 don’t share the same federal government as Texas.

Republican primary voters have in the past shown themselves very tolerant of candidates with less than perfect mastery of the facts. But those other candidates had something else going for them, even Sarah Palin. What did Perry have?

As the economic news gets worse, Republicans will realize: they are not merely choosing a nominee. They very well may be choosing the next president of the United States. What confidence can anybody have that Perry will come to work as president any better prepared than how he come to this debate or that he’ll show more insight and intelligence than he did in this first national outing ? Not much.

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118 Comments so far ↓

  • icarusr

    They very well may be choosing the next president of the United States.

    Tee hee … nah, not with these clowns, they are not.

    And if anyone needed to know how completely far gone YOU are in blind partisan hatred of Obama, look at this line:

    a 2012 negative ad: Rick Perry in his too-new suit and too-shiny tie denouncing Social Security as a Ponzi scheme.

    To show a clip of a Presidential candidate denounce the source of old age security for millions of Americans as a “ponzi scheme” is not a “negative ad”. Willie Horton was a negative ad; truth is never negative, no matter how much it might hurt Hairy Perry.

    • Smargalicious

      Icarus, go fly away.

      Frum’s agenda: elect a GOP centrist/compromiser.

      Perry does not fit DF’s agenda. We all know this.

      Throw in the gratuitous snapshot of Perry that falsely enforces the title, kinda like the celebrity tabloids do, and voila. The idiots all agree.

      • medinnus

        Aww, poor Smeggy – not enough Kock-sucking? Feeling frustrated that your poster child for stupidity was a total buffoon on national television? Learn to love Obama – with your idiot, he’s ensured to spend another four years stealing from the poor Rich white folk and giving to the lazy, shiftless nig…poor, while gay people celebrate four years of equality with your pimply, bigoted, well-used ass.

        • Smargalicious

          meddy, u so funny.

          When one of those ‘lazy shiftless’ folks loses his entitlement checks and comes to take your resources, remember me.

        • jakester

          Poor Smarg, driven to desperate poverty from all those entitlement deadbeats. Like all those old or disabled grifters living high on the hog off of SS.

  • TJ Parker

    Rather than deny that he “struggled” with death penalties, why not say, “I pray over each and every one of these momentous decisions”?

    For a man with no trust of government, he sure has complete and absolute trust in the judiciary: Government can’t do anything right except judge and execute people.

  • Rubicon

    I think we saw the real Rick Perry tonight.

    • medinnus

      What, a complete incompetent?

      • Rubicon

        And worse . . .

        • Smargalicious

          You can’t get any worse than a half-Kenyan reparationist, I always say.

        • medinnus

          …and you’re always wrong.

          Note that we’ve had modest job growth as Obama helps the government recover from the last idiot’s eight-year debacle.

        • Smargalicious

          meddy, defending your Messiah will do no good. He’s toast, and you know it.

        • CautiousProgressive

          You can’t get any worse than a half-Kenyan reparationist, I always say.

          Whenever you insult Obama, you manage to include “Kenyan” — implying that you think one of his worst traits is having a parent from Kenya.

          How can you possibly make Kenyan ancestry into a vile insult?

        • Smargalicious

          I don’t question his race. No one has a choice in that.

          I do question his loyalty to the United States. With an obvious liberation theology mindset, his actions have actually proven that reasonable folks can assume he doesn’t like America or its history.

        • Pattyman

          Who are you? Why comment? Your POV adds little and it appears people find your comments to be a consistent source of humor. What you and many like you say is expected, which makes those of us interested in the issue very worried.

          If people like this are what candidates are trying to win over, we as a country have lost before we start.

          Please do something the next time before hitting SUBMIT, delete the comment and then hit SUBMIT.

        • wileedog

          “I do question his loyalty to the United States. With an obvious liberation theology mindset, his actions have actually proven that reasonable folks can assume he doesn’t like America or its history”

          Because clearly he would risk his family and himself to become the first black President (with all of the threats and prejudices that entails) of a country he doesn’t like.

          Do you even think about the crap you spew?

        • jakester

          “half-Kenyan reparationist”, “messiah” can’t get any more right wing and stupid than that!

        • indy

          Will you guys stop kicking the family pet? Sure, he was never properly potty trained and barks non stop when he’s awake, but when he sleeps he’s cute as a button.

        • Smargalicious

          ^Yo, wiley…listen up.

          BHO is getting even with his reparations agenda as we speak.

          Reparations = TARP, Stimulus, Obamacare, and Obamanomics.


  • ProfNickD

    Oh dear Mr. Frum, we must have seen different debates.

    Perry’s death penalty answer evoked thunderous applause. You didn’t hear that? That’s the exact answer that Americans want to hear.

    Perry’s S.S. answer was right on target — Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and it needs to be substantially altered into something else altogether. Americans agree major changes including completely revising the Social Security system is needed: There simply aren’t enough young people to pay for the elderly and other groups that receive it. Romney can’t “save” Social Security and neither can anyone else.

    And you forgot to mention Perry’s best answer: “Keynesian policy and Keynesian theory is now done.” 10.0 score on that one.

    • cporet

      I’m an American and I don’t applaud when the state executes someone. So it’s the exact opposite of what I want to hear. A probably innocent man was executed in Texas, but I suppose you think better one innocent die than ten guilty get leniency.

      • diverik

        They may feel that it’s better that one innocent man die than 10 (or any) guilty men get leniency. However, they fail to realize that one innocent man being executed means one guilty man goes completely scot-free. Does that bother them at all? Does that bother Rick Perry at all?

    • tommyudo

      I suspect that Perry can’t even articulate what Keynesian economics is. As for the audience applause after his defense of putting over 200 people to death, it only shows that the GOP is a cult of death and torture. Even the GOP Governor of Illinois commuted the sentences of people on death row becasue of rampant prosecutorial misconduct. Rest assured, in the assembly line “justice’ of Texas more than one innocent person has been executed under Perry.
      If he turns out to be the GOP nominee, his comments on SS will haunt him come fall 2012. There is no way he can ever walk that back and win a state like Florida, especially now after people have “dummied up” after realizing the mistake they made with Rick Scott. The moral is never to vote for anyone who goes by Rick instead of Richard.

    • TJ Parker

      Correction: Perry’s death penalty question evoked thunderous applause. Those Christians sure are a bloodthirsty crowd.

    • The Walking Eye

      So, all those government jobs that supported the Texas economy during the recession along with other Keynesian principles they used to weather the recession down there sure is a nail in the coffin. Oh, wait.

      I too am an American who was appalled at the applause for the execution of 234 men, one of whom is known to be innocent. Perry spent the debate decrying government as ineffective and wasteful and corrupt, but on this question the Texas justice system is apparently perfect and cannot be questioned.

    • medinnus

      Ultimate Justice is only valid when guilt is undoubted. When you refuse to admit new evidence that calls the guilty verdict into question, it becomes Ultimate Injustice.

      After all, only Dick Cheney doesn’t make mistakes…

    • Smargalicious

      Bingo, prof.

      Since it’s DF’s site, he can espouse his agenda all he wants.

      It’s just that people have to understand that.

    • Watusie

      Perry’s death penalty answer evoked thunderous applause. You didn’t hear that? That’s the exact answer that Americans want to hear.

      That had nothing at all to do with Americans as a whole – it was entirely a demonstration of just how insane the Republican base is. The “pro-life”, “Christian” Republican base.

      It was appalling and contemptible.

      The modern Republican party is not only intellectually bankrupt, but morally bankrupt as well.

      • Smargalicious

        Thank you for your usual leftist whackjob comment, watusie.

      • CautiousProgressive

        As for the audience applause after his defense of putting over 200 people to death, it only shows that the GOP is a cult of death and torture.

        That is neither fair nor accurate. The GOP is currently in the control of a group of people who are very afraid – the Tea Party being the most visible of these. America is currently going through very significant changes in culture, economics, and international-politics. And none of these changes favor traditional white Christian culture.

        They (correctly) feel that their culture and way of life is being diminished.

        • LauraNo

          So that’s an excuse for being blood-thirsty? And how does it explain the fact that these same people have ALWAYS been blood-thirsty?

    • laingirl

      Remember, for every innocent person convicted, a guilty person is free to do harm again. Many men who were wrongly convicted and sentenced to life without parole in Texas have been released after serving many years. Based upon the large number of wrongly convicted, primarily due to misbehavior on the part of prosecutors, it does not stretch the imagination to believe that several wrongly convicted people have been executed by Perry.

      • medinnus

        “It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.”
        — John Adams

    • jakester

      Oh God, there is no more contemptible answer than one involving killing and praying together. That such a mindless redneck comment like that can invoke applause speaks volumes about the moral and intellectual imbecility of the crowd. Truly religious and spiritual people get offended & upset when these 2 bit scumbags use religion like some cheap deodorant.

  • anniemargret

    Perry was not impressive. He appears to be an impressive looking man, very handsome and polished. But then he opens his mouth.

    The same with Palin; in fact I would say Perry was very “Palinesque” in the debate tonight. Swatting at the much-beloved, and much-needed Social Security, it says volumes about the abysmal state of GOP politics. Millions are out of work, exhausted and demoralized trying to get a foot back in the door, running out of their unemployment benefits, worried about their spouses and their kids, medical bills, home payments..and his comment bespeaks of a man (and his followers) who don’t have a clue.

    The Republican yokels who follow this claptrap are too stupid even to realize they are shooting themselves in the foot. They are so full of cultural hatred and racism, it’s like herding sheep…..

    Is there no discriminatory thought left in the GOP? Where’s the outrage that such stupid answers can be given in this time and place in history? Did they go to school or flop around like Palin did, not absorbing any critical thought?

    Romney and Huntsman ‘won’ the debate tonight, but Huntsman is pro-science which makes him the evil one. Romney so far is clever enough to stay on the edges to not upset the TP too much.

    The GOP is badly in need of man or woman with guts, and intelligence. They don’t have a one.

    • tommyudo

      The words “guts” and “intelligence” don’t belong in the same sentence with “GOP”. The party is controlled by people with their own separate reality where intelligence is weakness and guts is another way of saying compromise with your enemy. The Far Right has taken over the GOP. Ultimately people like Huntsman, and even David Frum, will have to decide whether they stay in what is a clown carnival or exit stage left.
      After 2012, there may be an exodus of moderate GOPers to the Dems the way you saw the Southern Democratic segregationaists leave after the passage of the Civil Rights bill.

    • Banty

      “Perry was not impressive. He appears to be an impressive looking man, very handsome and polished. But then he opens his mouth. ”

      I think his body language is bad. He carries himself horribly, shifting around like a 14 year old boy in after school detention. It projects disrespect, like he shouldn’t have to bother with this.

    • Houndentenor

      Some of us thought the same thing about W 12 years ago.

  • balconesfault

    Rather than deny that he “struggled” with death penalties, why not say, “I pray over each and every one of these momentous decisions”?

    Perhaps because he fears being struck by lightning?

  • lyhunt56

    I did not see the whole debate. But when I did see segments I was surprised at how unprepared Perry was. Not sure what his supporters will say — should be interesting to see what Rush Limbaugh does tomorrow.

    Then with further reflection it seemed more than just unprepared, but kind weird. What was his point with Galileo ( Galileo was right! and the victim of an oppressive state??? Seriously, what was Perry trying to say?

    • medinnus

      I found it fascinating that Rick Perry decided to use Galileo as an analogous defense of Perry’s climate denialism.

      One of Galileo’s scientific theories of the time was heliocentrism, which is to say that the Sun was the center of the solar system, and that the planets revolved around the Sun, rather than the dominant Christian belief, documented by Biblical passages like Psalm 104:5 (“The Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”) and Ecclesiastes 1:5 (“And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place”).

      Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy in 1633 by the Christian Inquisition, who found that Galileo was “vehemently suspect of heresy”, namely of having held the opinions that had been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to recant Heliocentrism. He was sentenced to formal imprisonment by the Inquisition. He remained under house arrest for the rest of his life.

      So, what we have here are fanatic Christian proponents of torture who sentence Galileo for his ostensibly heretical views on science to life imprisonment if he doesn’t recant reality. And somehow, the Christianist Rick Perry chose to justify a denial and invalidation of science by comparing his anti-science position to someone who, in the name of science in defiance of Christian dogma, suffered life imprisonment?

      Either pathetically ignorant or opportunistically shameless, and in any case shows utter contempt for anyone he expects to actually swallow that.

    • PatrickQuint

      Galileo wasn’t quite right, he was just closer. It was a good try, of course.

      Galileo’s heliocentrism holds that the Sun is at the center of the universe (not just the solar system). The old system had the Earth at the center of the universe, and Galileo switched it out for the Sun. (EDIT: He wasn’t the first to posit this, not by a long shot.)

      Of course, the Sun is neither the center of the universe nor the center of the solar system. It, like everything else in the solar system, orbits around the center of mass of the group. This happens to be inside the Sun, but the orbit gives the big ol’ ball o’ plasma a bit of a drunken wobble if you’re looking carefully enough.

      Looking for “centers of things” celestial became somewhat passé with the advent of relativity and the failed search for the “aether wind”.

      EDIT: Copernicus gets the lion’s share of the credit for heliocentrism. Galileo gave it some observational backing. A hundred other things went into making heliocentrism work.

      As an analysis of science and its place in history, a seminal text is the Copernican Revolution by Thomas Kuhn. Philosophy of science has made leaps and bounds since Kuhn, but that book is a great start.

      • balconesfault

        I think you can claim that the earth is the center of the universe … but it does make all your astronomical mathematics a real bitch.

        • PatrickQuint

          Even if you don’t the math is a horrendous when you need a lot of detail. Orbits are only easy when one object is much more massive than the others, or there are only two significant masses in the system (in the former case you can ignore the gravity of the smaller body, and in the latter you can just have the objects spin around a static center of mass). Try the math on 3 objects of similar mass in motion and you have yourself a headache.

          You’re right that using the Earth as the reference point can work (and that the math is rough), but the title of “center of the universe” has lost the symbolism it had in classical times. Calling it the center lost all of the rhetorical sex appeal, and now it’s just all business.

        • Xunzi Washington

          If the size of the universe is infinite, the Earth is the center. As is every other spatial coordinate in the universe. Arrogant and humbling at the same time, I suppose.

  • Polifan

    Huntsman wins!!! Coming to the debate counts for something when you’re ill. I still thought he looked Presidential and sounded perfectly reasonable! Bravo!!!

    Don’t count him out!

    • medinnus

      He’s the Dark Horse at the moment. We’ll see how intelligence, competence, and sanity plays in the GOP….

      • balconesfault

        How much applause did Huntsman get at the Ronald Reagan library for all his intelligence and reasonableness?

        tic … tic … tic ….

        • medinnus

          In front of a red-meat psycho crowd like the one who attended the debate? Not a lot – but that would be expected. After all, they applauded Bachmann – an audience full of fools and idiots.

          I didn’t say that he’s a front-runner – that’s what Dark Horse candidate means. He’s running as a sane GOP candidate.

  • lyhunt56

    From my amateur observer position, it seems to me that at this point, Romney will probably win the nomination, but not because the party electorate want him. He will be the last man standing which is what McCain essentially was.

    Not a very strong showing upon which to enter the general election.

  • valkayec

    Perry does not have a record of engaging in debates. During the last TX gubenatorial run up, Perry passed on as many debates with Hutchinson as he could, leading her to complain that he refused to debate him. He only takes interviews with friendly media that serve him up soft ball questions. So, he just doesn’t have any debating muscle.

    It will be interesting to see the headlines and analysis tomorrow morning. I’ll be curious to see how he fairs in the comment sections of all the stories. I suspect his Ponzi scheme comment about Social Security that he doubled down on will cause his approval numbers to fall dramatically given that senior citizens comprise the largest share of the base.

    • laingirl

      Several Republicans I know here in Texas, who watched the debate among Perry, Hutchinson and Debra Medina, said Medina won that debate “hands down.” Apparently she appeared to know more about how the state government worked and the problems faced than either Perry or Hutchinson.

  • Bunker555

    Huntsman may gain some traction after tonight’s debate. He needs to spend a few of his own bucks now, or say goodbye early and focus on 2016.

    The Luntz/Limbaugh Liars will determine how the Tea Baggers will tilt in the early primaries. Perry may have dug his own grave by his Ponzi Scheme comments on Social Security, and making provocative statements about Rove and Cheney –> Tea Bagger brains.

  • gmckee1985

    Romney is the next President of the United States. Obama is a joke, but he’ll still pull around 45% of the vote. Perry would lose. Thankfully, I believe he’ll flame out.

  • lizerdmonk

    You are correct Mr. Frum about Perry he did not come prepared and from the looks of this als Palin I don’t think he ever will since he a poor student he thinks he can just wing this thing and all he did was make Romney look Presidential even though he looked nervous and timid. I sure wished the GOP would take Paul serious he the only one that comes across as a real person and I hope this will be the end of the robotic Michelle Bachmann she a complete mess.

  • gmckee1985

    The person who is initally ahead in the polls almost never wins. Last time around Rudy and Fred both flashed strong poll numbers but flamed out….when voters really start to pay attention, the cream will rise to the top as it usually does.

  • balconesfault

    The key to the Social Security argument is that Perry is essentially working for a class which has hated Social Security since … oh … 1935 or so.

    They thought with Bush’s re-election in 2004 that they had their moment, and thus Bush pushed their agenda of corrupting Social Security by privatizing a portion of it – pushing the idea that SS isn’t really a Social Insurance Program, but rather just some private retirement program administered by the Government.

    When that failed, it was clear that those who claimed that no real debate had taken place during the Presidential Campaign to give Bush some mandate to point to had a legitimate point … and even some Dems who would have been inclined to support privatization (say, a Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman) respected that there was no expressed democratic (small d) support for such a proposal.

    (mind you – this contrasts completely with the Republicans who filibustered Healthcare Reform even when it was the centerpiece of Obama’s campaign … but we know the GOP has no real love for the democratic processes, which they demonstrate every time they roll out a new measure to try to disenfranchise one set of voters or another)

    Anyhow – the guys who have thought that Social Security is a bad idea since 1935 think they have the political momentum now to not just cripple it through privatization … but to go after it in a major way. And they intend to support the candidate who will unabashedly make elimination of Social Security a goal.

    Does this make Perry a longshot? Sure. But it’s the brass ring, and they’ve never been this close to being able to grab it … and they don’t know when they’ll be this close again. Perry is going to have all the money he needs over the next 14 months to wage this campaign.

  • Russnet

    Huntsman and Romney brought it tonight. Romney had the zinger of the night: “This president is a nice guy, but he doesn’t have a clue how to get this country working again.” So true. Huntsman proved he has presidential temperament, and he doesn’t eschew hope. He can go toe-to-toe with Mr. Hope himself, Obama, in that department, something the others don’t have. Romney tries to be inspirational, but he comes across sounding like a Dad telling his wimpy son that someday, he can play football too.

    Too bad he’s tainted goods, because Newt brings it too. Bachmann, Cain, Santorum, window dressing. Paul is the big question mark IMO. In normal times, Paul is a zoo animal. These are not normal times. And he has the ability to rationalize his libertarianism when given the opportunity. He has shown that intellectual purity doesn’t have to be an obnoxious quality.

    • balconesfault

      . Romney had the zinger of the night: “This president is a nice guy, but he doesn’t have a clue how to get this country working again.”

      Sure he does. Unfortunately, it involves having a Congress interested more in helping get the country working again than in defeating Obama in 2012.

      • Banty

        As much as I disagree with it, it’s a good line. It captures the sentiment that they want to project, and one that distinguishes itself from the ‘red meat’ narratives, so can catch hold outside the Republican base.

  • mickster99

    With a party that worships Reagan (the poster boy for Prez as “empty suit”), that elected George W. Bush twice and nominated Palin for VP, the bar has been set very low for Republican Prez candidates. Very, very, very low. Take a gander at the other “candidates” vying for the nomination. Ron Paul? Newt Gingrich? Rick Santorum? This is the clown show big time.

    • balconesfault

      Can we start to openly mock Paulites after tonight’s performance?

      • PatrickQuint

        “Start”? Aren’t you a bit late to the party?

        Beware a politician with integrity. If you’re not careful, they’ll do what they say they will.

        • ottovbvs

          “Beware a politician with integrity.”

          Well if you call a loon believing his own fantasies integrity then there are a lot of believers in alien abduction with integrity. It would be very easy to compile a list of political fanatics who believed entirely in what they were saying. Bin Laden for one. Did Bin Laden have integrity?

        • medinnus

          Say what you will about Paul, he does have integrity. He’s like, the anti-Romney, even if some of his views are outre.

        • PatrickQuint

          Integrity is a description of internal consistency. Bin Laden may have had a lot of integrity, but frankly I didn’t pay close enough attention to his work to tell. Most of what I know about him comes from the 9/11 commission report.

          You just made yourself part of a campaign to conflate any and every adjective that could be called positive. We live in an age where “courage” means “competence” which means “integrity” which means “character” which means “democracy” and so on. It’s an attack on the English language, one that is robbing us of ways to accurately and honestly describe policies held by both allies and opponents.

          Integrity does not imply good character. The opposite of integrity is hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is usually bad, but that only makes integrity a common quality among people of character. Integrity is neither strictly necessary nor is it entirely sufficient for good character.

        • Smargalicious

          Damn you, meddy. Now I have to look up ‘outre’.

        • Banty

          I like him for that. Honestly, I enjoy seeing and hearing him at debates even where I disagree with him, and someone needs to be there saying some of the things he says, which no one else will say (like what does nuclear development look like from *Iran’s* standpoint).

          But I’ve long been cured of the naive Libertarian viewpoint.

        • japhi

          I agree. His comments on a border wall made me laugh

  • Bunker555

    Huntsman’s backhanded bitch slap of Norquist’s pledges made by evening.

    “To open handedley slap someone. Denote disrespect for the person being bitch slapped as they are not worthy of a man sized punch. Suggests the slap was met with little resistance and much whining.” Contrary to most definitions, the “bitch” is describing the “slap” rather than the destination.
    SOURCE: Urban Dictionary

  • John Q

    I sure wish Buddy Roemer had been included in the debate.

    He has two issues: jobs, and too much money in politics.


  • John Q

    Just speaking personally, I was shocked and surprised at how unprofessional Perry’s debate performance was. Nervous, irritable, stuttering, floundering, he missed opportunity after opportunity.

    Interesting to see this contrasting opinion from the folks over at Pajamas Media:

    Rick Perry came out looking the most presidential, while Mitt Romney appeared to be searching for a way to recover from the upstart’s sudden popularity. How that will translate in the general election remains to be seen, but for one Wednesday night at the Reagan Library, Governor Rick Perry raised the bar in this primary to a new level.

    I guess people see what they want to see.

    • balconesfault

      I was thinking the same. As someone on the sideline who’s not a big fan of either candidate, I felt Perry dominated the room.

      • japhi

        I dont have a horse in this either. I though Perry looked awkward, he is very rigid. He bumbled answers and had a perma smile going. He was very clear that he believes in the state killing its own citizens, and that SS needs to be dismantled. Hardly Presidential stuff imo.

  • hisgirlfriday

    I am curious how the public will react to such a hardcore attack on Social Security.

    Yeah Bush destroyed his second term when he went after it in 2005, but the difference between what Bush did then and what Perry is doing now is that Bush only pushed for the SS changes half-heartedly, without having campaigned on it in the 2004 election and tried to implement the Social Security changes in a stealth fashion through the clever buzzwords of “personal accounts” rather than actually attempting to engage the electorate on the merits. Thus, there was nothing for his base to really rally around when the Democrats went on the attack.

    But Perry, on the other hand, isn’t just touching the third rail… he’s taking a sledgehammer to it. And in the angry, restive mood of the electorate nowadays, especially among the GOP primary voter group, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bunch of voters rally behind this guy even if they like Social Security just because they like to watch sledgehammers.

    The MSNBC talking heads just laughed at Perry in all of this and talked about how it would hurt him in Florida with all the older voters. But do they really care if they still get theirs, which they would on any proposed reform changes? The Baby Boomer generation wasn’t willing to give up its tax cuts in a time of war with those wars being fought by a younger generation that will reap all the negatives of those tax cuts and none of the benefits. Why would they vote against politicians who promised to bring down the deficit by cutting someone else’s Social Security to ensure their low tax rates stayed the same?

    Similarly, Rick Perry is absolutely telling the truth when he says that people under 30 do not believe that Social Security will be there when they retire, and just for saying that truth he will probably get quite a lot of votes from this group despite the likely role he would play as president in making sure Social Security was not there for them when they retire.

    It’s a shame the Democrats don’t have the same FDR hagiography industry that the GOP has for Reagan, because so much of what he said back then is just as true now 75 years later:

    “Let me warn you, and let me warn the nation, against the smooth evasion that says ‘Of course we believe these things. We believe in social security. We believe in work for the unemployed. We believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die.

    ‘We believe in all these things. But we do not like the way that the present administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them, we will do more of them, we will do them better and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything’”

    • balconesfault

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bunch of voters rally behind this guy even if they like Social Security just because they like to watch sledgehammers.

      Great comment, and I think it captures the essence of the Tea Partiers. We already saw this attitude during the debt debate … if busting the full faith and credit of the US was what it was going to take to force commitments to deficit reduction without any tax increases … then so be it.

      “It’s a shame the Democrats don’t have the same FDR hagiography industry that the GOP has for Reagan, because so much of what he said back then is just as true now 75 years later:”

      Of all the things I fault Obama for – and I’ve not been one of those claiming his Presidency to be a failure – I blame him for not pressing the battle he started during his inaugural speech when he declared:

      The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.

      These are the things the majority of Americans do want out of Government … and Obama should have been framing all the things we’re talking about – additional stimulus (find jobs), the ACA (care they can afford), protecting SS and Medicare (a retirement that is dignified) in those terms over and over and over. It’s been remarkable how much the Dems fell back on accepting Republican framing over and over during the last 3 years while issues were being discussed.

  • armstp

    So many just completely wrong facts in this debate. So far away from reality. The fact checkers will have a field day with this debate.

    The debaters were so wrong on their facts that the NYT today even had to run a front page story above the fold on how these idiots got their facts wrong.

    Attacking the Democrats, but Not Always Getting It Right

    “During more than an hour and 45 minutes of intense debate on Wednesday night, the Republican presidential candidates did not shy away from exchanging blows with each other. But some of the toughest criticism — and some of the most factually problematic — was reserved for the policies, programs, and principles traditionally associated with Democrats, from tackling climate change to broadening access to health care to providing retirement insurance for the elderly.”

  • armstp

    Perry’s comment on SS were a perfect example of when extreme rhetoric meets reality.

    It is fun to believe ones own bullshit or the bullshit of the conservative commentators, but the reality is that SS is one of the most successful social programs ever in this country and many many people (just about everyone) relies on it, particularly in these tough economic times. Anyone who threatens SS in anyway is done. Talk about shooting ones self in the foot. SS is actually solvent, not contributing one nickel to the deficit and debt and is not a problem, so there is no reason to even bring it up. That is why both Republican and Democrats did not even talk about it with regard to the debt ceiling vote. Both parties were happy to leave it aside. I think Perry’s past and present comments on SS alone will kill his Presidential aspirations. Maybe he wins the Primary with a bunch of moronic votes from Republicans who actually very much use and need SS, but he will never win the general with a negative view on SS.

    As for Romney, I think his biggest weakness is what he thinks is his strongest point, which is jobs. He will get killed on his own jobs or lack of a jobs record. This became clear in the debate last night, as Republicans themselves know that Romney has a weak, if not negative, jobs record. This was demonstrated by the other candidates themselves attacking Romney (#47) on his jobs record in MA. The Democrats will only have to pull out the very powerful Teddy Kennedy attack ads on Romney’s jobs record and he will be done.

    The only viable candidate at this point the GOP has is Huntsman. Despite what the conventional wisdom says, his candidacy may pick up some steam from here. He should stay in the race. He still has a chance. He should continue to attack the other candidates for their wacky ideas and do it much more forcefully. The more he attacks, the stronger he becomes.

    • medinnus

      Well, Huntsman has said that he’s focusing his primary energies right now on New Hampshire, which has an open primary. Since its an open primary, center and center right voters are allowed to vote, and that is to whom Huntsman appeals. Or something like that.

      • valkayec

        New Hampshire also has a large independent voting block. So, if Huntsman appeals to them via their primary votes, it could be a signal of how independent voters across the country will vote.

  • Southern Populist

    I didn’t watch it.

    I don’t know how much longer I will be able to stomach mainstream politics in this country.

    Obama versus Romney or Perry doesn’t exactly rise to the level of Lincoln/Douglas.

    We will no doubt get another dose of glib and superficial talking points tonight.

    Like the Republicans, the Democrats, including Barack Obama himself, seldom offer much beyond the superficial.

    Republican: We need to cut the size of government, reduce spending, and let the engine of wealth creation, the private sector, create jobs. People want jobs.

    Democrat: No, we should not cut spending. People like their social security, medicare, roads, education, clean water….

    Rinse. Repeat.

    - DSP

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  • Holmes

    To the Republican faithful, facts don’t mean a thing. Nor do positions on social security, immigration, foreign adventures, or anything else. That’s just campaign talk, a means to an end, which they are happy to tune out. What they saw in Perry, and what they didn’t see in Romney, is attitude — a willingness to poke to liberals in the eye and then laugh about it. Republicans have a subconscious need to revenge themselves on those “superior” blue state bastards. That’s issue 1.

    • Graychin

      It’s all about how much a candidate bashes the Democrats. That’s the way to a Republican Primary voter’s heart.

      Republicans hate government, so don’t care much about electing someone who could actually govern.

      • anniemargret

        They only ‘hate government’ when a Dem is running it.

        Or when their roads cave in, their water gets polluted, the police dept is ravaged, and the schools become unmanageable. Or when a tornado or hurricane brings the town down, and suddenly they want ‘government help.” Or when their SS cks don’t come, or their Medicare is threatened.

        These are false voices raising a lot of useless noise emanating from a garden variety of hypocrites. There is really nothing anymore to admire about conservatives. They sold their souls a long time ago.

  • balconesfault

    Obama versus Romney or Perry doesn’t exactly rise to the level of Lincoln/Douglas. … Like the Republicans, the Democrats, including Barack Obama himself, seldom offer much beyond the superficial.

    Personally, I’ve seen some fantastic oratory from Obama.

    The problem he faces is that 40% of the country absolutely refuses to be led by him, no matter what he says, no matter how dire the alternative.

    Hmm … kind of like Lincoln, in a way.

    • Southern Populist

      Remember Lincoln and Douglas didn’t have speech writers and staffers to prep them with poll-tested and focus-group tested sound bites.

      Part of the problem is the age we live, the age of mass media and nanosecond attention spans.

      With television as the principal means of disseminating information, it forces everyone to sound-bite everything to cut through the clutter.

      In terms of general bearing and demeanor, Obama has taken some criticism for being too professorial and detached. This is actually the main aspect of his public presence that I like most. It’s clear Obama’s intellect is far above average.

      But if a person cannot execute, he or she can be the second coming of Sir Isaac Newton, and it will not do him or her any good in terms of getting goals accomplished.

      Obama has a serious problem with execution — I think many would agree with that, as well as a serious public perception problem fair or not.

      To engage in a bit of a trivial analysis myself, Obama is like a football team’s Quarterback.

      When a Quarterback performs well, he usually gets an unfair share of the credit.

      When the reverse is true, it’s an unfair share of the blame even if the team’s loss is due to factors beyond the Quarterback’s control.

      - DSP

      • balconesfault

        Blame away … but then you might as well be blaming Lincoln then for his inability to persuade the South of the value of remaining in the Union.

        From your standpoint, Lincoln is a spectacular failure, because his oratory could not convince those who would not be convinced, and thus he is responsible for the Civil War and the deaths of half-a-million Americans.

  • sparse

    “Republican primary voters have in the past shown themselves very tolerant of candidates with less than perfect mastery of the facts.”

    it’s too easy to call perry out for resembling bush too much, but in this one regard, i do think the two are justifiably compared– both are willing to shoot from the hip without making absolutely sure they have their facts straight first. perry’s debate performance totally underscored that for me. he not only made claims based on a poor command of the facts, he pugnaciously insisted that he was right when he was demonstrably wrong. and he allows his lack of understanding to back him into corners from which he says and does stupid things.

    i do not care what the politics of the man are, that approach alone to being president has proved itself to be disastrous (or monster-ous if you will) and i do not care to go down that road again. anybody but perry.

    • Xunzi Washington

      The Republican BASE doesn’t care one whit about facts about anything. So as far as they are concerned, as long as Perry (or whoever) spins his spurs from time to time, it’s all good.

      However, Independents do care about facts, and less about spurs, and if you want to pull some conservative Democrats, you’ll have to toss the spurs and start sounding as if you know what you’re talking about.

    • think4yourself

      Sparse, I’ll have to disagree. Perry knew exactly what he was saying and whom he was saying it to. The SS Ponzi scheme comment was not a mistake.

      It was calculated to appeal to my TP friend who left a comment on facebook this morning that she wants to move to Wyoming because they have no state income tax, few illegals, wild horses and are 2nd amendment friendly (exact words). She also insists that any involvement by the Gov’t in healthcare makes it worse, even though her husband has had cancer twice and has now been cancelled by his insurance company. She also uses the same language to talk about the President as does Smarg. These folks are Perry’s keys to the nomination.

  • dailyMuckraker » David Frum On Rick Perry’s Performance Last Night

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  • DifferentFrumer

    So there he is, pictured standing at a news conference in Steiner Ranch in suburban Austin where my kids live, giving the most inarticulate, blathering assessment of the fires that threatened to burn down my kid’s house, while **knowing** he is about to cut MILLIONS from the budget of volunteer fire department who are ALREADY funding their efforts out of their own pockets. He stood there lauded himself and ran for the presidency. Meanwhile Steiner Ranch lost 25 homes and the fire marshall told everyone there were no aircraft available to fight the fires and they have to do a ground-based battle.

    Perry is an idiotic moron.

    • balconesfault

      And while Perry has been Governor, with a Republican dominated legislature, Texas has cut Forest Service budgets … which fund much of the fire control in the state … by 30% just since 2009.

      Yet he is calling out FEMA for not responding quickly enough, at the same time he rails against a big Federal government.

      It would be comical … if Perry wasn’t the perfect embodiement of the inconsistencies embedded in the Tea Party, and that drive the GOP of today, and that as a consequence stand in the way of anything our Federal Government needs to achieve.

      Steiner Ranch is 4 miles as the crow flies from my home, btw … and the lovely hills it climbs were created about 300 million years ago by the Balcones Fault. If you believe the earth is older than 10,000 years, that is. For others I believe it was sculpted by Slartibartfast.

      I’m sure we’ll hear commentators raving over the Texas boom in construction jobs over the next 6-9 months as a major Perry success … as people spend their insurance dollars on rebuilding homes.

      • indy

        Yet he is calling out FEMA for not responding quickly enough, at the same time he rails against a big Federal government.

        I had a pretty good laugh when Perry blamed the Federal government for both his states uninsured problems (uh don’t the other 49 states ahead of his have the same federal government?) and the state’s illegal immigrant problems for not building a fence for him (We don’t want no federal government unless we do!)

        I think he has a recipe and he’ll be sticking to it.

  • lilmanny

    Republican voters want “authenticity”, the real, Texas kind that burns your eyes and nose. Perry has that in spades. I’m like a broken record saying that, for all intents and purposes, Perry is W. W is Perry. What worked for W is what Perry is trying, and not surprisingly it is working again. Uselessly trying to fetter him to the questions at hand is stupid. His answers are statements of value and challenges to elites, not actual answers. His base appreciates that, loves it, rewards it. He, like Sarah, is “authentic”, and answers to policy questions are suicide for them. Forget everything else, because those are the real rules.

    • balconesfault

      Perry’s actually more Bush than Bush ever could have been. For example, the Bush drawl and diction were affectations … watch snippits of his 1994 debate performances against Ann Richards and they’re nowhere to be found. In Perry, they’re entirely authentic.

      Local radio hosts have taken to calling him “pointy toes”.

  • Southern Populist


    I don’t have time to read here often. When I do, I usually stop for your comments upon scanning the page.

    None of my business really, but Smarg really seems to get under your skin, bro.

    - DSP

    • medinnus

      He does. Bigotry against blacks (well, any minority, really) and homosexuals bothers me a lot, especially when they go unchallenged. As I’ve stated before, I have a great respect for the teachings of Christ as a philosophy, even if I reject the theology, and oppressive Christianist fascism strikes me as both a slap in the face of any (including Christian moderates and liberals) who disagree with their hateful interpretation of the Scriptures and a virtually treasonous position re: the separation of Church and State.

      So yeah, although much of the time I laugh him off as a buffoon, I hate to see his regurgitant bile posted unchallenged. He’s one of the few people I view as a total waste of chemicals and oxygen.

      “All that is required for Evil to triumph is for Good men to do nothing.”

      • Houndentenor

        They often go unchallenged but mostly because there’s no point in challenging them. Hardly anyone (maybe no one) here agrees with those statements and there’s no change Smarg is going to stop posting them so what’s the point really. I find them as offensive as anyone else does and even called him on them a time or two and then gave up. I sometimes do the same thing with this sort in real life. Now that I’m back in Texas I encounter them all the time. They are mostly well on the other side of 70 and not about to change their minds or moderate their language. At least Smarg doesn’t use the n-word. I hear that one at least a couple of times a week down here.

        • medinnus

          You are almost certainly correct – but remember, I support Huntsman. Longshots are my specialty, sniper qualifications aside… *grins*

  • chicago_guy

    I don’t know, after Romney’s content-free speech the other day (with the brilliant “jobs machine!” concept – dammit, why didn’t I think of that?), the bar has been lowered so much that Perry’s imbecility really doesn’t look as dumb as it normally would.

  • jakester

    This whole debate reminds me of some idiotic Coutler column about Evilution on World Nut Daily where she lambaste Evolutionary Biologists are religious fanatics. This aimed at an audience mainly of religious fanatics!

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  • steven08817

    Can someone tell me how calling social security a ponzi scheme creates jobs and improves the confidence of the American people. Rick Perry is an arrogant ingrate who is obviously sitting on his brains. Making outrageous comments is not leadership.

  • Kingofthenet

    Perry: Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme
    Herman Cain: Who wants a bank account with your name on it instead of Social Security!
    Wild Applause
    Me: Who want’s a bank account with your name on it with a balance of $0.00 when your 85?
    see the problem?

    • drdredel

      seriously… what’s so special about a bank account? My 8 year old has a bank account. It has $35 on it. It’s earning .9% interest… So… it’s not going to beat inflation, but it’ll be fantastic to have that money when she retires.

  • balconesfault

    what’s so special about a bank account?

    Nothing much. For example, if she has kids in her mid-2o’s, then dies a tragic death at 30, unless she has put aside a lot more than what FICA takes out of her check aside in that bank account they’d better hope Social Security is still around, or that someone else has the resources to care for them.

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  • bice710

    I’ve never seen a comment section of a website with more thoughtful, reasonable, articulate people interested in an actual conversation rather than insulting each other. What a refreshing change, and truly addictive to read. Thanks to *most* of you for that. :)

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