With Rick Perry: Hope for the Best

Written by Steve Bell on Wednesday September 7, 2011

The campaign for the Republican nomination for President now gets serious. A variety of polls indicate that Texas Gov. Rick Perry currently has the lead.

Perry’s surge has drawn a range of reactions—fear from his fellow GOP contenders, scorn from the “Progressive” wing of the Democratic Party, and ambivalence from establishment Republicans. Should they all be worried?

Now, go back in history, can you recall any other former governor of a very large state who was scorned by the media and his opponents in both parties?

The answer of course is Ronald Reagan.

In the hagiography that now overwhelms reality, Reagan was always the Great Grandfather, a man of wisdom who backed the Soviet Union into oblivion, and brought love and sunshine to a nation darkened by Jimmy Carter’s downbeat mood.

As someone who backed Howard Baker against Reagan in the 1980 primaries (a campaign that lasted about a nanosecond after the Maine caucus), I remember how Washington, D.C., viewed him then. He was a “cowboy,” a “washed-up actor who cannot function without his scripts,” a “danger to global stability.” And so on.

My sense is that the establishment media reaction to Perry falls along the same lines as its reaction to Reagan. “These people say strange things, like about prayer, and a great America, and responsibility and accountability, and something about the motto on our currency, and the Pledge of Allegiance—what is wrong with these folks.” Thus goes the “wisdom of the two coasts.”

Yes, Perry comes across sometimes as a televangelist. He blurts out words without thinking (like a certain Vice President). He is completely too “Texas cocky.” He has yet to realize the scrutiny that he will face, where every word, every facial movement, will be analyzed to prove that he is, indeed, unfit for the Presidency.

Oh, and you know that he didn’t go to the right schools. I mean, no Haarvahd, no Princeton, no Yale, no grand feats in Wall Street.

This sort of condescension is similar to when President Obama describing working men and woman in Pennsylvania as only caring about guns and their strange religion. It is also Perry’s greatest asset.

I wonder. How would a Perry-Rubio, or Perry-Martinez ticket do?

If Perry can tone it down, look less like Jim Bakker and more like Jim Baker, and remember that he doesn’t have to do the Texas Strut all the time, he can be very formidable.

Those who think otherwise have an America in mind different from the one most Americans have, and Ronald Reagan did.