Rick Perry hasn’t been running for president for a full week and he has already made a significant gaffe. ThinkProgress has caught video of Perry saying that Ben Bernanke’s efforts at monetary stimulus are “almost treasonous” and that he would treat Bernanke “pretty ugly down in Texas.”
The comment is wrong from a policy standpoint and the accusation of treason is uncalled for, but the unfortunate truth is that Perry is accurately expressing the emotional sentiments of the conservative movement.
So far, Perry’s campaign has not significantly walked back from his comments. A spokesman for Perry’s campaign tells the New York Times:
“He is passionate about getting federal finances under control,” the spokesman, Ray Sullivan, said in an interview here. “They shouldn’t print more money, they should cut spending and move much more rapidly to a balanced budget.”
While Perry should walk back from his comments, the truth is that he may have much more to gain with the conservative base by sticking to his remarks. (Notice how he gets applauded for his remarks in the ThinkProgress video.)
In the Weekly Standard this morning, Bill Kristol blogs at length about returning to the gold standard and includes this comment at the end to do some damage control for Perry:
UPDATE: Rick Perry’s instinct—there’s a problem with the Fed printing money—is right. His formulation—it’s “almost treacherous”—isn’t right.
In other words, the gaffe was in the delivery, not the message. The Standard even tried to use the gaffe to accuse New York Times reporter Binyamin Applebaum of revealing an unprofessional liberal bias because he found Perry’s remarks “horrifying.”
Apparently, it is ‘liberal’ to be horrified when a presidential candidate accuses a public servant of being treasonous for attempting to improve the economy.
One possible outcome from this event is that Perry’s remarks will form the basis for a question at the next GOP debate. First a moderator will ask Perry: “Do you stand by your remarks about Ben Bernanke?” Perry will then respond: “I am opposed to weakening our currency and printing more money!” (The Ron Paul fans in the audience will applaud.) The moderator can also ask Mitt Romney if he agrees, and that will be an awkward moment. Ron Paul might even try to jump in and say “I’m glad to see that the party has moved closer to my own views.”