Home / Culture and Society / No Joke: Rick Perry Proves Himself Unfit For The Presidency

No Joke: Rick Perry Proves Himself Unfit For The Presidency

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I understand that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign was flailing and floundering. I understand that he was trying to do or say something, anything, that would lift him back to the frontrunner status that he’d so quickly fallen from.

But to rehash the so-thoroughly-debunked “birther” theories about President Obama, and then to couch it as a joke, is not only mean-spirited, unfounded and wrong. To do so was so fundamentally irresponsible as to call into question the candidate’s basic judgement so profoundly as to render him essentially unfit for the high office which he seeks.

Perry not once, but twice, tried in recent days to raise fresh questions about whether the president was indeed born in the United States and therefore legally entitled to hold the office. He should have picked up the phone and called Donald Trump on that one. It may seem an age away, but just six months ago Trump was building what appeared to be a surging White House bid precisely and entirely on the birther issue.

The president responded by releasing his “long-form birth certificate” — the exact document which birther conspiracy theorists had been demanding for years. Doing so popped immediately Trump’s presidential aspirations like the trial balloon that it was, and we fortunately have heard nary a presidential squeak from The Donald ever since.

Releasing the long-form certificate also presumably would put the whole stupid issue to rest permanently. Except that Perry resurrected the controversy for naked political gain, and then tried to spin it as just a little harmless fun: “It’s a good issue to keep alive. . . It’s fun to poke [Obama] a little bit and say, ‘Hey, let’s see your grades and your birth certificate.’ I don’t have a clue about where the president — and what this birth certificate says.”

Governor Perry, you aren’t auditioning for some open-mic comedy show, you are campaigning to become the leader of the Free World. For a serious presidential candidate to call into question the legitimacy of the current occupant of that office is not a matter of simple tomfoolery. It’s a most serious charge, and in this case, to try to reiterate such a serious charge, one that’s already proven to be baseless on its face, isn’t only unpresidential, it’s so ridiculous as to clearly demonstrate that Perry just is not serious.

It’s so ridiculous that not one, not two, of but at least three,of Perry’s fellow Republicans had to call him out. “You associate yourself with a nutty view like that and you damage yourself,” Bush White House aide Karl Rove says. “. . . It starts to marginalize you in the minds of some of the people whom you need in order to get the election.”  Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi and a former chairman of the Republican Party, also took Perry to the woodshed. The birther issue, Barbour says, is “not good for the Republicans.” “Republican candidates should categorically reject the notion that President Obama was not born in the United States,” says former Florida governor Jeb Bush. “It is a complete distraction from the failed economic policies of the President.”

Congratulations, Governor Perry. In trying to somehow prove Barack Obama isn’t a legitimate president, you proved you aren’t much of a legitimate candidate.

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About Scott Nance

  • The birther movement is a waste of time at this point even if there is some truth to the President not being born in America.

  • Romney will be chosen by default to lead the Republican Party to another general election defeat. Does the name Dewey mean anything to you?

    As to Perry, he has successfully managed his state into the budget deficit abyss and kept it there. Imagine what he can do for the country.


  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc #8 –

    Change that to “Romney’s the only one with any real competence who has a chance to win the GOP nomination”, because I think Huntsman’s more competent than anyone else among the Republicans – indeed, I think he was the only one Obama was ever worried about. After all, why do you think he wanted Huntsman as an ambassador to China? It wasn’t simply that Huntsman spoke Chinese, has a relatively good head on his shoulders, and (unlike most of the other candidates) is courageous enough to (horrors!) take the side of science against Republican dogma.

    Huntsman was the only one who could have taken enough liberal and independent votes away from Obama to win the presidency. It’s Obama’s great good fortune that Huntsman’s been largely rejected by the anti-science Republicans.

  • Why, Igor? How would this be anything more than trivia?

  • Igor

    Well, at least Romney said what he thinks, on that occasion.

    I’m not interested in birth certificates, but I’d sure like to see each candidates grades transcript published, and all the course abstracts made available.

  • Jordan Richardson

    That line was a rare instance in which Romney told the unvarnished truth.

  • And let’s not forget his best recent line:
    “Corporations are people, my friend.” Sheesh.

  • “Something of a political chameleon”!!

    Understatement of the decade. Clinton was far more artful about it. Romney defines insincerity and plastic insubstantiality.

    And New York Magazine has a cover story this week tying him [in his Bain years] to the “1%” mentality of layoffs/downsizing/outsourcing and massively overpaid executives and investment bankers.

    It’s true he is less ridiculous than the other GOP candidates. But this is damning with faint praise.

  • Romney may be something of a political chameleon (is he the right’s Clinton?) but he’s a decent enough bloke, and just about the only one of the Republican field to show any signs of competence whatsoever.

  • Perry himself is a joke. Just awful. The idea of having to endure that smirk and that voice for 4 or 8 years, my god.

    Romney’s inconsistencies are more blatant and more on the record than most. On abortion and gay rights and health care reform, he has done several 90 and 180 degree swivels. Rachel Maddow did a very amusing montage of them last night.

  • Clavos


  • And with that in mind, Rog, you in particular had better make plans to leave the country in case Perry gets elected. 🙂

  • With an ageist spin on it, though: Perry suggesting that there’s something wrong with Romney because 50-60 year olds shouldn’t shift their positions on things.

  • But that’s a standard charge, as when launched against Kerry: “first we voted for it, then against it.”

  • And to underline the fact that he occupies the same space but not the same planet as the rest of us, Perry apparently also thinks you’re not allowed to change your mind after the age of 50.

  • If it took this trivial transgression to wake you up to how what an empty suit Perry is then you’re really not paying attention. In fact, this is far less of a liability or a misstep for him than his actual positions on issues. Jokes or allusions to birtherism are trivial stuff to anyone by Obama kool aid guzzlers.