The epic collapse of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Presidential campaign has been much-discussed with an emphasis on how this collapse affects his political future. This is to be expected, but a debacle like this will inevitably take down the fortunes of others.
I’m not talking about people like the staffers who left former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s campaign for Perry’s campaign. That’s too obvious and they are professionals who made their political beds. I’m talking about the innocent victims of the Perry campaign’s decline.
Writers from Texas. Rick Perry’s political campaign promised to be a bonanza for writers based in Texas. Many of us (like me) were looking forward to writing articles that mixed local political anecdotes, policy analysis and homespun sayings (like “that dog won’t hunt”) into packages that people all over America could read about for many months. Some of us even received publishing deals to write books about Rick Perry. Now, the publishing deals are being rescinded, editors are suggesting we might want to think about other topics to write about and that dog, well, you know.
Guys Who Like Brush Jackets. For reasons best known to the gods of irony, Rick Perry decided to film a demagogic anti-gay advertisement while wearing a brush jacket. Now, there is nothing wrong with brush jackets. I own one, as do millions of other Texans. The problem is, Perry decided to wear the same type of clothing in his advertisement that the late Heath Ledger immortalized in Ang Lee’s masterpiece Brokeback Mountain. An internet meme was born and now I can’t wear my brush jacket in public for at least a few months because people might think I’m trying to look like Rick Perry. And it’s such a comfortable jacket.
-The author and his comfortable jacket.
Aggies. Texas A&M University is an excellent university. It is a top-tier national research university and it is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. I would be proud to send my child to Texas A&M and some of my best friends are Aggies. Texas A&M, however, has always had a bit of an image problem as being a school that has a fair amount of students (and graduates) that haven’t quite left the barnyard far behind them.
Most Aggies take this reputation in stride and they themselves like to tell an Aggie joke from time to time. But Rick Perry has managed to make himself the most famous Aggie in America and he hasn’t done so by doing something cool like getting nominated for an elite scholarship.
During this campaign season, Rick Perry has managed to personify and promote a stereotype about Texas A&M that isn’t true anymore, to the extent it ever really was. I’d imagine more than a few Aggies would have preferred that Perry had stayed in Austin for most of 2011.
The proverb that says “when elephants fight, the grass gets trampled” seems particularly apt in this year’s Republican Presidential race. So even if you are happy that Rick Perry is unlikely to be the GOP’s Presidential nominee in 2012, please give a thought to those who were trampled in that melee, through no fault of their own.
In any conflict, there will be collateral damage and this is true in Presidential elections as well.