IT'S NOT THE CATTLE -- IT'S THE HAT
I'd love to eviscerate what David Brooks says about Rick Perry, but I'll confine myself to Brooks's claim that Perry is successful for two reasons:
He has a simple and fashionable message: I will bring government under control. His persona is perfectly tuned to offend people along the Acela corridor and to rally those who oppose those people.
I agree with the second part, but as for the first, what is Perry saying about government that hasn't also been said by every non-Mormon in the race throughout their political careers (and by Romney for the past four years)? Bachmann, Cain, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul -- how is "I will bring government under control" any different from their message? (Perry does also add Jesus, guns, and killing brown people, but so do all the others, except Paul on point #3.)
So it's the persona -- it's really just the persona. It's the sense that he can offend, bully, and subdue people in the Northeast Corridor -- which Brooks intends as shorthand for (as he says elsewhere in the column) "the interlocking oligarchy of politicians, academics, journalists, consultants and financiers," but it's actually shorthand for you and me and all the rest of the dirty hippies and non-whites and gays and women and so on who don't know their place.