Pundits’ Perry problem perpetually persists

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of Rick Perry’s political death are greatly exaggerated.

True, between his incoherent debate performance, and his pathetic showing in the Florida straw poll, Perry had an absolutely miserable week last week, following by an even more miserable weekend during which all the conservative pundits Fox News could cram onto their set morphed into coroners, pronounced him dead, then kicked the body around for sport.

Piñata of the week

Don’t believe it for a minute. Here’s why:

Choosing a nominee for President is a comparative process. The Republican primary process seldom if ever picks a wonderful human being. They merely pick the least unacceptable goofball, from among the unacceptable goofballs available.

Yes, Rick Perry can be completely incoherent. Yes, he has big problems with the Republican wackadoodles on immigration and HPV and probably five other issues they haven’t even figured out yet. I said from the start that Perry would look great at first glance, and that he’d have big problems on further review. I am not – I repeat not – above telling you people “I told you so.” Thus, I told you so.

But remember, it’s a comparative process. At the end of the day, Republicans still won’t see Bachmann as rocket surgeon (or a brain scientist) worthy of tier one status. They’ll still be unable to forgive Romney for his Massachusetts health care plan, and still won’t understand his vaguely-scary faith. Gingrich still won’t have a real campaign, and none of the other candidates have shown an ability so far to capitalize on Perry’s pain and move up the ladder into the top tier.

So now the kids in the toy store have tired of their new Perry doll and the grown-ups are desperately looking for a new shiny object to distract them with. Enter Chris Christie.

Not the look of a Republican nominee

Setting aside for a moment my strongly-held theory that we will have no way of knowing whether Christie will enter the race until after Saturday Night Live announces that John Goodman is scheduled to guest host, let’s assume that he will.

Then what? Then Christie will quickly become the next Rick Perry – entering with unrealistically high expectations, looking great at first glance, then disappointing the angry mob of Republican primary activists because he hasn’t been pure enough either.

Guess what, America? Nobody is pure enough for these clowns. Nobody can ever be pure enough to satisfy the lunatic fringe that applauds uninsured Americans being left to die, and jeers active duty deployed military soldiers.

So within minutes of entering the race, Christie will be unceremoniously dumped into the same rubbish pile with Perry and the rest of the crowd, leaving the entire crowd of candidates in the same rubbish pile.

Sooner or later, Republican primary voters will realize that there will be no magic candidate with whom they agree on all issues, and they’ll be forced to pluck one of the candidates back out of their rubbish pile. And Perry will still be in the game, no matter how many conservative pundits on Fox News predict otherwise.

Perry’s opponents may well have a bigger Perry problem than they had before. The unsustainably high expectations voters earlier assigned to Perry are gone now. It doesn’t get any worse than last week for Perry unless he falls off his tricycle into a fresh steaming pile of dog poo, and the cameras are rolling at the time. His next performances will be seen as a pleasant surprise.

While Perry will never satisfy Republican voters on the issues of immigration, vaccinating girls, or any of several other issues, he is bound to find his footing and better explain himself. As long as he avoids drooling in public, he’s bound to get better during debate performances. And sooner or later, he’ll succeed in getting back to his original “jobs in Texas” narrative.

Meanwhile, his opponents still haven’t taken the time and trouble to poke holes in that original Perry jobs narrative – the main issue that carried Perry to the top of the heap in the first place. The holes have always been there to poke, but Perry’s opponents have failed so far. They instead keep changing the subject. Until that central jobs message is in doubt, Perry will still be in the game.

So, bad news buckaroos – Perry’s not going anywhere for a while. Trust me on this – we Texans have been trying to get rid of the guy for years. It ain’t that easy.



One Response to Pundits’ Perry problem perpetually persists

  1. KatyDid September 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    You are one step ahead of the media heads, I suspect.
    That’s the difference between the smart guys and the popular guys – the smart guys are thinking about the NEXT media cycle.

    But this morning on Joe Scarborough, the cast of characters was trying to determine whether a Perry soundbite was a REAL soundbite or a faked viral video bit.
    They never reached a conclusion.

    I groan every time I think about having to listen to Perry-isms on a national level for the next half decade…

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