But we do expect them to really believe in the things they propose — to have the requisite conviction to know and recite with passion the basic policies that someone on their team stayed up nights to craft. Say what you want about Mr. Bush, but no one ever doubted his deep well of resolve on tax cuts or education reform. He had command of his own plan, if not all the underlying data.Remind me: what exactly did it get George W. Bush that everyone (supposedly) thought he was "authentic"??? George W. Bush, in case Matt Bai has somehow forgotten, was a massively unpopular president. And he probably somewhat underperformed in the 2004 election against (supposedly) inauthentic flip-flopper John Kerry.
I mean, if you think about this for more than a second, it's obviously just silly. George H.W. Bush, the guy who invented snack preferences just for a campaign (not to mention flip-flops on issues from abortion to taxes to taxes again) as more authentic than Mike Dukakis? Did Americans think that Dukakis was presenting a phony persona of a boring technocrat, and that's why he lost to Bush? Of course not.
Rick Perry wasn't hurt because making a fool of himself on TV undermined his authenticity, as Bai proposes; he was hurt (assuming he was hurt; we don't really know that for sure yet) because he made a fool of himself on TV. Sometimes, it isn't actually more complicated.