Thursday, June 09, 2011


So I guess everyone thinks the implosion of Newt Gingrich's campaign for president is the start of Rick Perry's campaign....

After RealClearPolitics first reported last month that aides to Texas Gov. Rick Perry have been putting out feelers for a presidential bid, many pundits dismissed the prospects of Perry following through, noting that his top political aides were already working for Newt Gingrich's campaign.

Those aides have now resigned from Gingrich's presidential effort, and Perry has admitted publicly that he is actively considering a White House run.

Adding more fuel to the fire, a source close to Perry's political team told RealClearPolitics on Thursday afternoon that the Texas governor is "leaning toward getting in" to the race.

Two of Perry's longtime political aides, Dave Carney and Rob Johnson, were among the large group of advisers who announced Thursday that they were leaving Gingrich's team....

I keep trying to figure out whether we need to fear Rick Perry -- sure, he seems crazy enough to be a good fit in this field, and he'd be an extremely bad president, but could he really win the nomination? My rule of thumb has always been that Southerners who talk like Foghorn Leghorn and look like cigar-chomping hound dogs (Phil Gramm, John Connally, Haley Barbour) simply can't get arrested even in Republican primaries. I'm not sure why -- I get why they wouldn't appeal to Northern Democrats, but why couldn't Gramm and Connally even do well in GOP-only contests?

Perry, of course, doesn't look like a double-chinned hound dog. He's a newer-style Southerner. At a casual glance, he looks like any suburban white guy from anywhere in America.

I think his problem -- and it's strange that this should be a problem even in the GOP, but I think it might be -- is that he's too arrogant. He's too cocksure. It comes through even in a still photo, like the one that accompanies the story linked above:

But don't Republicans think they have all the answers? Don't they think they really do know it all? Yeah, but they're extremely bitter and resentful because they think there's a vast liberal conspiracy to deprive them of the right to exercise their brilliance and do whatever they want to the country -- and they're looking for a politician who embodies that bitterness and resentment. Perry doesn't do that. Perry just acts smug and superior. He's certain he's all that. He doesn't act cheated. Unlike, say, Sarah Palin or Chris Christie or Rudy Giuliani, or even a less obvious resentnik like Paul Ryan, Perry doesn't exude the sense that the bastards are depriving him of his birthright.

Ah, but what about George W. Bush? Or Ronald Reagan? Yeah, Bush was smug, but he got a lot of mileage out of the fact that people thought he was stupid. Reagan, too. Every time either one of them won a political battle, GOP voters thought, Har har har! Now who's the stupid one? Even if the victory in question was getting away with doing something that was very, very stupid. So their resentment was tapped that way. And they both seemed like bratty little kids, which was disarming, whereas Perry just seems like a self-admiring, stupid adult.

Maybe I'm wrong about this. Maybe I haven't watched Perry closely enough. But I think that undiluted arrogance works only regionally. I don't think it'll play in Peoria.

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