Perry and Purity

Rick Perry is now the undisputed front runner in the GOP field. Some pundits think he will be hard to stop. We’ll see; it’s early yet.

I keep reading that Perry is not Bush. And I keep thinking, how are they different? They both are big time crony capitalists whose big issues are tax cuts and tort reform. But here Steve Kornacki spells it out. The difference, really, is a matter of perception on the Right.

After 8 years of being unable to take down Bill Clinton, the GOP establishment decided that it needed a new marketing strategy. Bush was “elected” in 2000 with the solid support of the establishment and empty rhetoric about “compassionate conservatism.”

And for the first half of Bush’s presidency, Perry and most other Republicans stayed on board even as Bush implemented big government conservatism — a massively expanded federal role in public education (courtesy of a deal with Ted Kennedy and George Miller), a giant new prescription drug entitlement program, the creation of a brand new Cabinet department and so on.

I should add that the real impetus behind most of this was to find new ways to funnel taxpayer money to the education, pharmaceutical, and other industries, but let’s go on …

Every now and then, there’d be some grumbling on the right about Bush’s spending binge, but it didn’t amount to anything. Bush’s approval rating with Republicans remained astronomically high and he was reelected in 2004 thanks in large part to the party base’s devotion to him.

And let’s not forget … September 11 September 11 September 11 September 11 September 11 September 11 September 11 September 11 September 11 September 11 September 11 September 11, etc.

It was in his second term that everything changed. For the first time in his presidency, due mainly to news from Iraq that seemed to get grimmer each month and to his administration’s feeble response to Hurricane Katrina, Bush’s poll numbers began to plummet, first under 50 percent, then into the low 40s, and then into the 30s. His formula had stopped working, and when Republicans were blown out in the 2006 midterms (losing the House for the first time since 1994 and the Senate for the first time since 2001), the leaders and activists who had once acquiesced to the supposed necessity of compassionate conservatism began jumping ship. It was because Republicans had betrayed their own ideological principles, they decided, that the Bush presidency had failed and the GOP’s image was in disrepair. Or, as Limbaugh put it a few days after the ‘06 election:

The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I’m going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don’t think deserve having their water carried.

It was in this climate that the Republican Party as we know it today and Rick Perry as we know him today were both born.

Basically, the base has persuaded itself that Bush “failed” because he strayed too far from conservative orthodoxy. He wasn’t pure enough, in other words. Especially after their midterm victory, the GOP is all about ideological purity. And Rick Perry is giving it to them.

This explains a lot of the insanity, including the House vote to privatize Medicare and the call to raise taxes on working people. They’re in self-destruct mode.

23 thoughts on “Perry and Purity

  1. I’m hoping, indeed, that they do self-destruct. But the persistence of the greedy and selfish, and those who believe their lies, is amazing.

  2. Heh. “Compassionate Conservatism” failed, so try again with “Mean-Spirited Conservatism”. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  3. The Perry lead ensures a war within the GOP along the Tea Party line. Romney has a history of going negative in a campaign. I predict he will again. For now, Romney can let normal attrition take care of Ron Paul and Bachmann and Huntsman and the Pizza Guy. By the time primates roll around, (Feb & March) it will be down to whoever the Tea Party wants or Romney. Nobody has unloaded on Perry yet. IMO, the GOP field believes Obama is guaranteed to lose in 2012. so the end of the primaries will look like a dogfight. At one point I expected a Romney/Tea Party ticket. Now, i dount it. Even the mutual loathing of Obama will be enough to hold the coalition between the establishment GOP & the teabaggers together past the convention. (In Tampa, near me)

    The uglier it gets, the more reasonable Obama will look.

    OT, President Obama has requested a joint session of Congress on Sept 7. The GOP has a debate at that time and is trying to spin the speech on jobs as an attack on the GOP pinheads. The first primary is FIVE MONTHS FROM NOW! Somebody look up the ratings from the last debate. Jeez are these guys that paranoid… or just stupid?

  4. Oh please nominate Perry, oh please nominate Perry, oh please nominate Perry.
    You get the idea. Obama should be dead in the water, but the Repugs can’t find anyone to run who doesn’t scream “Tax Cut” or “Cut Spending” everytime they see a Rorschach test. I never thought Bachman had a chance, but Perry is Bachman without the charm and keen intellect.

  5. This explains a lot of the insanity, including the House vote to privatize Medicare and the call to raise taxes on working people. They’re in self-destruct mode.

    I think it’s way too early to write their obituary. With virtually no one to stop the insanity, and unlimited corporate money behind it, I’d say insanity has a good chance to rule. Maybe not next week, but next election cycle.

    Insanity prevailed in Wisconsin – the recalls didn’t overturn the Republican majority there (and yes, I’m aware that the districts in question were already Republican).

  6. Purity as self-destruct mode? That has curious philosophical implications; for instance, the inherent impurity of sanity. What’s the Buddhist perspective on this?

    Perhaps there is a purity that is not mere epistemic closure; but it would have to involve error-correction rather than error-defense.

    • Purity as self-destruct mode? That has curious philosophical implications; for instance, the inherent impurity of sanity. What’s the Buddhist perspective on this?

      It should be obvious in context that I’m talking about ideological purity, which is always self-destructive, because ideological purism is always rigid and narrow and disconnected from the real world.

      Sanity, if you’re talking about psychological health, has nothing to do with ideological purity. Neither is sanity ever pure. The Buddhist perspective on this is that we’re all deluded, but not necessarily crazy.

  7. I’m with Moonbat on this one. Being insane is no liability with the wingnut base. Indeed, it’s an asset. Insanity has an excellent chance of getting elected. Insanity rules.

    • I’m with Moonbat on this one. Being insane is no liability with the wingnut base.

      Of course being insane is no liability with the wingnut base. That is not the issue. The wingnut base is only about 25 percent of the voting public; 30 percent tops. The wingnut base by itself cannot carry a general election. To win a general election a candidate has to get voters outside his base; he has to appeal to the mushy middle. Granted, swing voters often are ill-informed and easily manipulated, but as a rule they like “safe” candidates. They don’t tend to go for obvious extremism or crazy.

  8. Perry is a big turn off…I think his over reliance on pandering to the Christian right will be his undoing. My feeling is that a faith in God is one thing and stuffing Jesus down peoples throats is another.. and Perry doesn’t have enough sense to realize a hard line over zealous Jesus won’t carry him into the White house.

    For me, when I see Perry I see a rehash of Bush’s act with just slight modification to try to play it off as original. Because of the similarity to Bush’s act the stigma of being a Texas fraud is all over Perry. His mannerisms, his accent, his macho – bravado schtick, and his stupidity are so closely aligned and easily identifiable to those of George Bush that it will have to be a detriment to find acceptance from the general population.. George Bush on steroids!

  9. Don’t underestimate Perry.
    Yes, Obama’s calling for a joint session of Congress. It doesn’t matter how he approaches this, Republicans will be pissed at him for calling them out.
    Whether he’s all bipartisany, and hopey changey, or calls them another “Do Nothing!” or even “Do Worse” Congress (and I’d prefer either of the last two to bipartisany – but I think we know which way he’ll go…), the Republicans will get the message – albeit the wrong one.
    Sine they really don’t want an improvement in the economy or jobs situations, but getting the political message, they’ll call every piece of shit that they create a “Jobs” bill, and any Democratic proposal a “Jobs Killing” bill, slap all sorts of anti-woman, minority, children, and senior things into, or, on top of the bill, which the Democrats won’t vote for in the House or Senate, or Obama won’t sign if it gets to him, and they’ll be screaming, “SEE! It’s the Democrats and Obama who are job-killing obstructionists who are thwarting the Republicans efforts.”

    And it doesn’t matter if it’s ‘Job-killing’ Romney, or ‘Minimum-wage’ Perry,or someone else like Jeb, they’ll say that the only way we as a country can get jobs is to elect a Republican President, who has Republicans in both houses.

    Republicans have this great ability to message and brand. Something the Democrats are not good at. They sold W as a “Compassionate Conservative,” and oxymoron if there ever was one. And if they can do that, they can sell Perry, W-Lite.
    They’ve already got 30% of the vote locked up – the ‘anything that pisses-off the Liberals’ crowd. And do you really believe that they can’t convince 21% of the remaining low-and-mis-infomation voters that they’d be better off with another tough-talking Texan than with the Kenyan Communist?
    I’m not.
    Republicans can sell bullshit better than anyone. And when they’re called on their bullshit, they’ll say that people are wrong, and that the bullshit is good for them. ‘Look, you can use it to fertilize your plants, AND it’s a dessert topping!” And we may wake up on the first Wednesday in November in 2012 with a lot of sick people throwing up – the ones like us who didn’t buy the bullshit, and the ones heaving into their toilets, throwing up Texas-sized Vanilla-bullshit Sundae’s.
    With the MSM we’ve got, and the voters we’ve got, and the lower turnout due to less enthusiasm, voter disenfranchisment, and voter suppression, and Perry can win. Add Marco Rubio to strip off some naive Hispanic voters, and we may be looking at 8 years of Perry, followed by 8 years of Rubio.
    Now, I don’t think so.
    And I hope not.
    But you can’t tell me that that’s NOT within the realm of possibility?
    Of course, I really hope that I’m really, really, really wrong on this one.

  10. Perry could carry some of the more rural red states, but he’s way too extreme to appeal to a majority of voters in the more urban states, which are where most of the electoral college votes are found. I mean, the guy is on record as saying that Social Security is unconstitutional. Please.

  11. One large difference between Perry and Bush (which would have mattered 10 years ago, but maybe doesn’t so much now), is that, for all his Jesus-lovin’ cowboy rancher pose, Dubya was a privileged blue-blood, and the traditional party base knew that he’d have their interests at heart even while he sold his fake persona to the pre-tea-partiers and mega-church members. They knew as well as his liberal opponents did that he was really stupid, but they didn’t particularly care, as long as he had handlers whose priority was their money. Perry is the real version of what W was posing as. He wouldn’t have worked back then. Now he can.

  12. maha,
    I’m sure you’re probably right, and I’m just being overly pessimistic.
    It’s just that after all of the Republicans nonsense of the last 30 years, especially during the Little Boots years, and then the the Obama election and the Democratic ascendancy, the idiocy of the lead-up to the 2010 mid-terms, and the results, lead me to think even less of the American voter than ever before.
    And some of those more urban states, like PA, OH, WI, and MI just voted for a lot of Republicans at all levels of their local and state governments, despite the W years.
    And I know that there’ll be more turnout in 2012, and growing disillusionment with their Republican-led goverments in those more urban states will help the Democrats, and that it may yet turn out to be another wave election, but I’m not sure that the voters can’t be sold a Perry or a Bachmann. And, while I really doubt it can happen, I just can’t be sure that it won’t happen. Even in states and districts predisposed to conservative idiocy and religious lunacy, I still can’t understand how people like Rand Paul and Allen West, Rick Scott, and a plethora of other knuckedragging morons got elected. How and why sentient beings do this to themselves and others is beyond me? But, then, divide and conquor is a powerful tool, and 30 years of denigrating government and vilifying people who are to the left of Joe McCarthy have, while they’ve taken their toll, also set the groundplan for their future. Our demographics can’t change fast enough for me. But the Conservatives are doing everything within their power to make sure that any demographic which is unfriendly to them has a hard time either registering, getting to the polling place, or placing a vote.
    Combine all of that with the willl to win/”PARTY UBER ALLES!” approach towards government, and a cowered, compliant, and complicit MSM, and I’ll remain pessimistic until I see Democrats keep the presidency, either house, or some combination of the three.

  13. Agree that crazy Perry would be the best nominee Obama could run against. We’d all love to see a 1972 McGovern-style blowout on the right (for those too young, IIRC McGovern lost every state except Massachusetts to Nixon, because he was seen as a liberal extremist). But I do not believe that Perry’s extremism necessarily means he’s going to lose this time.

    Recall that this is the same country that, not once, but twice installed GW Bush (note that I wrote “installed” and not “elected”).

    The GOP hasn’t been resting since the Kenyan Usurper came in. As Digby wrote:

    …The [right wing] movement has been leading up to it for decades, but it’s picked up speed in the last 12 years. They impeached a Democratic president and stole an election in a two year time span. They fired US Attorneys for failing to rig elections and dismantled the voting rights section of the DOJ. They’ve packed the courts with anti-democratic judges and filed cases before them to create a sense of systematic voter fraud that doesn’t actually exist. And last November they made their move into state houses all over the country and wasted no time in creating laws to disenfranchise as many liberal voters as possible.

    With the economy in the toilet, and Perry touting the simple-minded “Texas Miracle” – frightened people without jobs are going to not parse the insubstantiality of that claim. Perry and the whole GOP machine will very effectively give these people the reasons for their woes, the people or philosophies to hate, and there will be next to nothing coming from our side which can effectively counter this message.

    I’m not saying Perry is a shoe-in, and I believe Obama can win against this, but it is a grave mistake to think his extremism is going to automatically turn off everyone who isn’t a wingnut, and an ever graver mistake to think he won’t find a way to be President.

    • he won’t find a way to be President.

      You’re forgetting that he lacks W’s main advantage, which was the solid support of the Republican establishment. I don’t its gong to far to say he has powerful enemies on the establishment Right. He’s not going to get the butt-cover that W got.

  14. Mr. Gulag,

    Yes, I do think you’re wrong, and here’s why.

    Obama, during the last election, proved himself to be a very good candidate for president. Recall, when he started out he was just some black guy with a funny name that gave a pretty good speach one time. Against him were Hillary Clinton, the person everybody just assumed would be the next president, and then John McCain, the guy who had the press convinced that he was a mavericky maverick guy who was their best buddy and invited them to barbequeues and such … a guy who for foreign policy cred could claim not just being a veteran, but actually having spent some time in a North Vietnames prison camp, and for domestic policy cred could point to several very important laws that were actually named after him. I think people don’t appreciate just how formidable the odds were against Obama eventually winning, but he did it.

    Obama, during his presidency, has proved himself, (IMHO), very good at actually getting stuff done in the face of fanatical resistance. However, his primary tool here is misdirection … he always has to try and get the republicans focused on resisting him in one place, either so that they overextend themselves and he’s able to hit them while they’re vulnerable, or by tricking them into believing they’ve won, or by hitting them in a very quiet and low-key kind of way somewhere else entirely.

    The problem with that approach is that while he gets stuff done, he just doesn’t look good doing it. Because he has to has to convince rebuplicns that they’re winning in order to get anything done, he ends up convincing everybody else too. He appears to be constantly caving and/or collaberating.

    Add to that that he genuinely did feel, upon entering ofice, that one of the biggest things he needed to accomplish was to somehow try to rationalize the political landscape a bit, back off the insanity that had just started to gain steam. I think many of his early moves were purely designed to serve as the start of reconciliation. I think he did realize eventually that the republicans would never allow him to do that, but it’s difficult to tell because he continued to use the tactics of misdirection. He needed to get things done, so he needed to at least pretend that the republicans were still sane.

    Now, I do think that is a major weakness for him … while we need to have things get done, we also need somebody at the top who is able to clearly, articulately, and forcefully make the case for liberal/progressive policies. Unfortunately, given the current republican fanaticism, I think those two functions are almost purely mutually exclusive. In normal times they would not be, but I just don’t see how he could have actually accomplished a single thing while at the same time being forceful and open about his goals. And, while serving as a voice for progressivism is important enough that in some cases it would justify foregoing any actual accomplishments, I think the situation Obama was handed in 2008 precluded that possibility. There were things that needed to be done, urgently.


    (and here’s where I finally get around to saying why I think you’re wrong, here…) As the presidential campaign approaches, keep in mind that at some point Obama will be switching modes. He will no longer be trying to get anything actually accomplished, he’ll be trying to get reelected. Without being hamstrung by the need to get anything accomplished, he can let his presidential candidate persona come out and play … and when that happens, I think the ball game changes into a whole new game … hockey, perhaps, or some other sport that sufficiently illustrates what I’m trying to say here … I’m not a sports guy, fill in the appropriate metaphor here.

    President Obama to some extent has ben forced to allow the republicans to control the terms of the public debate. I’m guessing he was planning on the democratic talking heads and base to do that job for him; if so, that was unfortunately a miscalculation. Candidate Obama is under no such restraint.

    Which is not to say I think he’s going to suddenly get all full-throated progressive, or anything like that. His public persona is that of a calm, cool, fiercely intelligent and yet mature and wise individual. (not fawning here, trust me, just trying to describe what I think he wants to be his public portrayal) So, whatever moves he makes will be in keeping with that; but in candidate mode he has a LOT more room to really effectively be that.

    I think Perry is most likely going to be the candidate, if he doesn’t implode at some point, and I think Obama is going to beat him in a walk. There’s just too much crazy there, and it would allow Obama’s lack of drama to really shine, in the eyes of so-called independants. If it’s Romney instead, I think America’s distaste for phony looking and sounding rich elite guys will do him in.

    In other words, I’m not worried. The only question is whether or not we have the ability to take the house back.


  15. Fair assessment, Ian.
    I firmly believe that US Americans don’t know where places such as the eyerak and South Africa and such are because they DON”T have maps.
    By that I mean, there are a bunch of certified retards that will be motivated to go with Perry if he is the selected one. HOWEVER, everything hinges on what happens between now and election time. If Obama is successful in jump starting the economy, and the shit doesn’t hit the fan in other ways ( like a large number of soldiers killed in Af-Pac or Iraq a La Beiruit in St. Ronald’s reign). Anything could happen, even another off shore oil disaster, big assed earthquake, you name it.
    As for Rubio carrying the Hispanic vote, don’t count on it.
    Chicanos don’t (for the most part) “cotton” to republicans. The barber shop where I get my hair cut is mostly Latino (Dominicanos, Puerto Ricans) and they all went for Obama. The well heeled Cubanos down in Miami-Dade are rabid, and I mean foaming at the mouth crazy Republicans.Rubio would attract them for sure, but that’s about it. We need jobs in Florida, and he who looks like the most likely to deliver will get the votes.
    As far as taking the house back, popular opinion is “throw them all out”, so if someone wants a career in politics, this may be a good time to get in ( but be prepared to get flayed by angry mobs in several months!)
    And Maha, you’re right about Perry not getting the butt cover “W” got.
    I’m still in awe of Dubya running as a “Washington outsider” (The scion of Prescott Bush, and a former POTUS!!), then getting appointed by the SOTUS.
    That decade is a through the looking glass bad mushroom trip.

  16. Ian,
    Thanks for the take. A lot of things to consider. And like I said, I don’t think that people will love Perry enough to vote him in, I was saying not to dimiss him, and try to show why not, in my overly pessimistic way. 🙂

    And erinyes,
    Yeah, I know the FL Cubans are different from other Hispanic groups. But if there’s a close race, you know the Republicans will be hitting the Hispanic angle hard with Rubio if he’s on the ticket. And there are very conservative Catholic Hispanic voters who arent Cuban that they’ll work on.
    Whether or not he’s the VP choice this go-round, I think they’re looking at him for the top spot(s) in the near future. You know this because he was Nancy Reagan’s “date” last week.
    Sure, he almost dropped the witch, but he didn’t – so, he SAVED her.

    • you know the Republicans will be hitting the Hispanic angle hard with Rubio if he’s on the ticket.


      History shows us that black voters don’t automatically support black candidates — they didn’t exactly turn out for Al Sharpton awhile back — and women don’t automatically support women candidates. I don’t see large numbers of Latinos voting for a right-wing racist whackjob for president just because a Latino is also on the ticket.

  17. maha,
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not saying that Latinos will. What I’m saying that Republicans will try.
    They’ll be out there working to get some Hispanics, a rapidly growing Democratic demographic, in any way possible, hoping to get some stragglers – just like they hoped that Palin would bring over some of the disenchanted Clinton supporters just because she’s a woman. Epic fail!
    My guess is that if it is either Romney or Perry, in order to attract something other than their usual old white male base, they’ll look either to a woman or a minority, hoping to get votes.
    It’s the way they think, not me. Remember, this is the party that ran Alan Keyes against Obama in his run for the Senate in 2004, strictly because he was black. I don’t remember if there was a more viable R white candidate from IL, male or female, but if there was, Republicans went with Keyes anyway, despite all of his drawbacks.

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