What Happened to Governor Rick Perry?

It wasn’t so long ago that Governor Rick Perry was on top of the world.  From 8/29/-9/1, 36% of Republican voters in polling done by Politico/GWU/Battleground compiled by Real Clear Politics favored Rick Perry.  He led Mitt Romney, his closest opponent, by 19%.  As of December 25, 2011, he trails the front runner Newt Gingrich by 21%, and Romney by nearly 18%. So what happened to Perry, anyway?

His fall has been the result of a string of horrific debate performances and a series of embarrassing gaffes. When off script, he tends to ramble and use folksy, colloquial language.  In the South Carolina National Security and Foreign policy debate, he said: “…I don’t trust ’em…I’m tellin’ you, no dollar’s goin’ into those countries…” He said there is a perception that with China’s rise, “we have had our day in the sunshine”. In the California debate, Perry opined that “when you get a balanced budget amendment in Washington, D.C., you will finally start getting the snake’s head cut off”.  Later in the debate, asked to name one of the many scientists he claims are coming forth daily to question that climate change is attributed to man, Perry danced awkwardly around the question: “Well, I do agree that there is — the science is — is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at — at — at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just — is nonsense. I mean, it — I mean — and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.”  In the Florida debate, becoming  a little flustered, he said he’d put the “aviation assets on the ground” to help secure the border.  In the Michigan debate, he made one of his most embarrassing gaffes: “And I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone, Commerce, Education and — what’s the third one there?  Lets see…third one, sorry, I can’t.  Oops”. To Perry’s credit, later in the debate he said, “by the way, that was the department of Energy I was reaching for a while ago.”  The fact of the matter is, to use one of Perry’s favorite catch phrases, the Guv. from Texas is just not a good debater.

Ironically, Texas is home to some of the best high school and college debate programs in the country.  Governor Perry’s campaign team should consult the debate coaching staff from UT Austin, University of North Texas, Baylor, Trinity University or U T Arlington.

It’s not just the folksy lingo and poor debate performances that account for Perry’s decline; he seems to be lacking in the knowledge department.  He struggled to name one of Obama’s SCOTUS picks in Sonia Sotomayor, calling her Motomayor and thought there were only 8 members on the court.  He suggested to a group of college students that the voting age was 21 and referenced a voting date that was not accurate.  So given these gaps in knowledge, I was surprised to learn that in college, he made a C in American History.

In reviewing the Governor’s college transcript, I am not at all surprised however that the pre-veterinary major made a D in Economics given his disastrous economic plan which calls for privatizing social security, lowering income taxes, eliminating capital gains taxes and incentivizing profiteering  American companies who do business abroad to return home and create jobs.

Governor Perry may make a late surge, but not getting on the ballot in Virginia will make the task all the more difficult.  As a write-in candidate, he’s not likely to get many votes.  If he debates better in the 10 or so Republican debates scheduled for 2012, he may have a shot at the nomination in August…but it will be a long shot.  The Guv. better go git him some debate trainin.

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