Perry’s Bubble Bursts As GOP Gets to Know Him

Surprisingly, the most devastating critique of Perry’s performance comes from neocon chieftain Bill Kristol. I would have expected Kristol to have supported Perry’s embrace of the most extreme elements of Israel’s government.

But Kristol isn’t buying what the Texas governor is selling:

… no front-runner in a presidential field has ever, we imagine, had as weak a showing as Rick Perry. It was close to a disqualifying two hours for him.

The problem for Perry is that he just can’t handle questions outside of his pre-set talking points. And when he gets unnerved by that, he doesn’t even handle his talking points.

Kristol’s entire article is worth reading. I don’t agree with him about Christie (potential candidates always look like saviors before they actually announce), but his critique of the Republican debates is spot on. The words “wacky” and “crazy” seem almost judicious. They will, of course, be forgotten in 12 months when the presidential campaign is really underway, but for now they are about as cringe-producing as any political events I have ever watched. Perry still has time, but the bloom is definitely off his rose.


  • Lee

    Over on Unfair Park:

    By now you’ve likely come across the line Republican strategist Mike Murphy dropped on the Twittersphere a while back, in which he likened listening to Rick Perry talk to “watching a chimp play with a locked suitcase.”

  • Jackson

    Perry’s weirdest debate moment: Asked which of the candidates on stage he would pick as his vice-presidential nominee, he said he’s take Herman Cain and “mate him up” with Newt Gingrich. Mitt Romney responded without missing a beat, saying that the night had produced “a couple of images I’m going to have a hard time getting out of my mind.”

    No kidding. If only Rick had suggested that he’d take Sarah Palin and “mate her up” with Michele Bachmann. Even some dems and independents might get behind that, especially if we’re talking Super 8 hi-def.

  • Neal

    “the bloom is definitely off his rose.”

    The sooner the better, and I say this as someone who voted for him in every general election since 1994.

  • Eric

    Wick – Your link to “Perry’s embrace of most of the extreme elements of Israel’s government” just goes to a story where he says as a Christian he is directed to support Israel. Did you have another story in mind or are you saying that “extreme elements of Israel’s government” believe that Christians are directed to support Israel?

  • Jason

    Bill Kristol is right-on here, and I say this as somebody who is a lifelong GOPer and former staffer. In fact, Kristol is summarizing what I think most of America feels, at the moment, and that is the void of leadership we have in our political system today.
    What we are missing on both the Republican and Democratic sides, is that rare combination of intellect, persona and command.
    All of our great presidents had it and, prior to the last 20 years, they had it when it mattered.
    Today, we have a president with plenty of intellect and a lot of persona, but certainly lacking in command. Bush certainly had the command, and to a degree, the persona, but lacked intelligence (in his case, he just wasn’t quick on his feet and couldn’t master the PR).
    Clinton, well, on the surface he had all three, but his indescretions cost him his command.
    Where is today’s Lincoln, Roosevelt (both), Reagan, or even Kennedy?
    Both parties are having a hard time coming up with one…

  • blue pencil

    Really? A tongue-tied, idea-averse, cash-rich GOP candidate can’t make it through the primaries and into the White House?

    Well, against the notion that Perry is already on the way out, there’s Perry’s ad, posted three days ago, that I suspect more people will see than saw him fumble in the debate. It’s also an ad that seems to indicate that if nine percent unemployment continues and Perry can just shout “America!!” often enough, nothing else matters.

  • Jackson

    Wick, I’d like to field Eric’s Perry/Israeli question, if you don’t mind.

    @Eric, William Saletan at has cogently laid this out: George W. Bush never said he had a Christian duty to stand with Israel, because framing U.S. foreign policy in terms of a religious alliance between Christians and Jews is dumb and dangerous. It confirms what spews from the mouths of Islamic extremists. Bush understood that the terrorists who struck us on 9/11 wanted a religious war. The key to defeating them wasn’t to wage that war, but to refuse it. That’s why Bush constantly praised Islam, emphasized American freedom of religion, and dismissed Osama Bin Laden as a renegade killer of Muslims. In eight years, Bush never mentioned his Christianity as a basis for his policies. He defended Israel as a democracy and an ally, but when he mentioned Judaism and Christianity in this context, he always included Islam. Bin Laden, on the other hand, routinely accused the West of waging a “Zionist-Crusader war” against Islam, warning Muslims: “Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors. They are but friends and protectors to each other.” Bush always took an opposite tack. In 2007, the president told Al Arabiya: “I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. … I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace.” Again and again, Bush affirmed, “If you’re a Jew or a Christian or a Muslim, you’re equally American.” Perry has trashed this legacy. By declaring that “as a Christian, I am going to stand with Israel,” he has vindicated Bin Laden’s narrative.

    Extreme elements within Israel’s government would love nothing better than for the U.S. to pick Israel’s side for openly religious reasons. So would extreme elements within American conservatism. And, of course, it goes without saying that nobody would be happier than extreme elements within the Muslim world.

    Ask former Secretary of State James Baker. He’d be the first to tell you Perry is nuts to fan such flames. It would be bad enough with bin Laden still alive. It is positively inane in the post-bin Laden era of the “Arab Spring.”

  • Wick Allison

    Sorry about that link, Eric. Here is one of many about Perry’s appearance in NYC with Danny Danon:
    (And Jackson is right in every respect.)

  • Steve

    “They will, of course, be forgotten in 12 months when the presidential campaign is really underway…” I’m fairly sure we’ll be reminded regularly and loudly.