Monday, July 8, 2013

Rick Perry, President?

Rick Perry is not running for yet another term as Texas governor; speculation is that he's in for another presidential run.

Is he a viable candidate?

Sure. Why not? He has conventional qualifications, and is certainly in the mainstream of his party on public policy.

That said...Jamelle Bouie has been making the case that he's a strong candidate (at least on twitter; I don't think he's written it up elsewhere), and I'm not quite as impressed as he is. Mind you -- I was very bullish on Perry throughout the 2012 cycle, considering him a live longshot before he got in admitted he was running, and considering him a real possibility even after he was crushed in Iowa. Indeed: I'd still argue that he, and not Santorum or Newt, was the real runner-up in 2012.

So why not this time? Well, at least as of now, it appears that he'll be one of several viable candidates, rather than the one of two or three he was in summer 2011. Moreover, had Republican party actors wanted him in 2012, they almost certainly could have had him; debate debacles aside, a strong push for him in November through January by something like a unified group of GOP leaders would have very likely been enough.

And it's hard to believe that the reason that didn't happen was because of loyalty to, let alone enthusiasm for, Mitt Romney.

So the question becomes: if various flavors of Republican party actors weren't interested in 2012, against Romney, why would they be interested in 2016 against presumably three or four candidates who have better records of conservative orthodoxy than Romney could ever get?

That's not a rhetorical question. There may be an answer. Perhaps the debates really did scare people off who would be willing to jump on this time if Perry does well in the early debates. Perhaps Perry's deviations on abortion (the vaccine) and immigration, small as they seemed, mattered more to people than Romney's huge past-tense violations. Perhaps there really is something to the "wait for your turn" thing among Republicans. Perhaps Perry's health issues hurt his campaigning in general in ways that could be forgotten if he does well over the next couple of years.

But my guess is that while he's certainly viable, his failure in 2012 is telling us something about his 2016 candidacy, and that he's not all that likely to emerge from the pack this time around.


  1. Perhaps, for once, idiocy counted?

  2. In the first days of the Perry Candidacy, a well-written critique of his governorship was published, I think in the Washington Post. It began with the simple sentence, "If Rick Perry and George Bush had truly been brothers, George would have been known as 'the smart one.'" The image was of Bush walking with Perry, his arm over Perry's shoulders.

    And I thought, That dude was sunk by his former Governor.

  3. I've been pushing that story of Romney 2012 to anyone who would listen.

    And I totally agree that Perry 2012 is a really good predictor of Perry 2016.

    Question: who are the 3-4 unblemished conservatives? Ryan: check. Christie: no. Jeb Bush: nope. Rubio: was fine until the immigration apostasy. Cruz: gotta figure they aren't THAT crazy. Walker: maybe? Paul: hard to call him umblemished, given the party's obvious hostility towards his dad for having the same positions. Jindal: I haven't heard much buzz he running?

    So, I count 1.5 "unblemished" conservatives. Honestly, if Intrade would take my money, I'd put down $50 on Ryan right now.

  4. Perhaps Perry's deviations on abortion (the vaccine) and immigration, small as they seemed, mattered more to people than Romney's huge past-tense violations.

    I don't think it was the size of the violations so much as how the candidates handled them during the campaign. Romney abandoned most of his heretical past positions and accepted party orthodoxy full stop. (The one exception was continuing to stand by health-care reform in MA, arguing (unconvincingly) that it was different than Obamacare, rather than claiming Romneycare was a mistake. I don't think he had much of a choice there, since I don't think he could have gotten away with trashing one of his signature accomplishments. But at least he was signaling that he was not going to try to replicate it on a national scale.) Perry, in contrast, defended his record on immigration, and his "Have you no heart?" moment was monumentally stupid from a political perspective, since it showed he wasn't simply sticking by his guns but personally attacking the orthodox position. Imagine Romney saying something of that sort about critics of Romneycare. He never did. As unappealing as Romney was to many in his party, he convinced enough of them that he fulfilled the basic requirements of a GOP nominee in 2012--no more, no less--and was more competent than his rivals. Perry failed at conveying either of those things.

    1. Good point on "have you no heart."

  5. @ Matt Jarvis - you might want to add WI Gov. Scott Walker to your list.

    I'd say Perry won't be nominated because he'll be old news, and that is my gut feeling. However, Republicans have historically nominated folks taking their second bite at the apple - Romney, McCain, Dole, G.H.W. Bush, even Reagan.

  6. I was going to say that Matt Jarvis at 4:33 wrote one of the most depressing things I have ever read, until I saw the first sentence TapirBoy1 wrote at 8:01.

    Maybe the end times really are near.



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