‘I thought there were a lot of kisses of death, but not so yet.’ On the remarkable resilience of Rick Perry

 

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Good morning Austin:

And they make a fuss about Richard Nixon.

You know, nearly getting dumped from the Republican ticket in 1952, only saving himself from political oblivion with a nationally televised speech named for Checkers, the cocker spaniel that proved a cuddly diversion from claims that Ike’s running-mate had benefited from an unseemly slush-fund.

And then losing the presidency in 1960 by a hair’s breadth, perhaps because he was too high-minded and patriotic to cry foul and demand a recount.

And then, two years later, losing for governor of California, a loss punctuated by a bitter, parting press conference shot, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around any more.”

And then six years later, he is elected president of the United States by a hair’s breadth, and then four years later in a landslide, tarnished only by some dirty dealing that would ultimately lead to the epic humiliation of resigning in disgrace ahead of the impeachment posse.

But for sheer resilience is there anyone to compare to our own Rick Perry?

A man who went from – briefly – Republican presidential front runner to goat with a single syllable – OOPS.

A week earlier, there was his manic encounter with a bottle of maple syrup in New Hampshire.

And here’s a fun fact. Did you know that just as he was trying to get his second campaign for president off the ground he was indicted for abuse of power, charges that could have landed him in prison for something like a century.

 

(poster by SABO)

(poster by SABO)

And did he care?

Did he let it get him down?

Did he lose any sleep?

No one drew Donald Trump’s contempt as early and readily as Rick.

There was this.

And this.

No one – not Jeb Bush, not Ted Cruz, not Mitt Romney not Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama, not Michelle Obama, not Joe Biden – gave a more powerful or timely speech denouncing Trump and Trumpism than Perry, on July 22, 2015, at the Opportunity and Freedom PAC Forum in Washington, DC.

The White House has been occupied by giants. But from time to time it is sought by the small-minded — divisive figures propelled by anger, and appealing to the worst instincts in the human condition.

In times of trouble, there are two types of leaders: repairers of the breach and sowers of discord.

The sower of discord foments agitation, thrives on division, scapegoats certain elements of society, and offers empty platitudes and promises. He is without substance when one scratches below the surface.

He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued.

Let no one be mistaken — Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.

It cannot be pacified or ignored, for it will destroy a set of principles that has lifted more people out of poverty than any force in the history of the civilized world — the cause of conservatism.

 

 

I believe in America.

I believe in our people.

I believe we can out-compete, out-produce the workers of any nation.

I believe each of you can make better decisions for yourselves and your families than government.

I believe in personal freedom over bureaucratic fiat.

The era of the liberal nanny state must end.

But it cannot be replaced by reactionary politics founded on division.

We will be no better off with a Republican divider in the White House than the current Democrat divider in the White House.

Donald Trump the reality television star is a great generator of ratings. But Donald Trump the candidate is a sower of division, wrongly demonizing Mexican-Americans for political sport.

It is wrong to paint with a broad brush Hispanic men and women in this country who have fought and died for freedom from the Alamo to Afghanistan. He scapegoats Hispanics to appeal to our worst instincts, when we need a president who appeals to our best.

This is not new in America.

In the 1840’s the “Know Nothings” emerged as a political movement, scapegoating Irish and German immigrants for the problems of the nation.

They were obsessively anti-Catholic, so much so that when the Pope sent marble for the building of the Washington Monument, they smashed it to pieces and helped delay its construction for 35 years.

These people built nothing, created nothing. They existed to cast blame and tear down certain institutions. To give outlet to anger.

Donald Trump is the modern-day incarnation of the know-nothing movement.

He espouses nativism, not conservatism. He is negative when conservatism is inherently optimistic.

He would divide us along bloodlines, when conservatives believe our policies will work for people of all backgrounds.

He has piqued the interest of some Republican voters who have legitimate concerns about a porous border and broken immigration system. But instead of offering those voters leadership or solutions, he has offered fear and soundbites. This cannot stand.

Conservatism doesn’t foment agitation through identity politics. That’s what Democrats do. But as a supporter of socialized medicine, the stimulus package and Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump is quite suited to follow the Democrats’ example.

I, for one, will not be silent when a candidate for the high office of president runs under the Republican banner by targeting millions of Hispanics, and our veterans, with mean-spirited vitriol.

I will not go quiet when this cancer on conservatism threatens to metastasize into a movement of mean-spirited politics that will send the Republican Party to the same place it sent the Whig Party in 1854: the graveyard.

As a veteran, I took offense to his attack on Senator McCain, and I found lacking his defense that he spent a lot of money on veterans’ parades.

Donald Trump was born into privilege. He received deferments to avoid service in Vietnam. He breathes the free air thousands of heroes died protecting. And he couldn’t have endured for five minutes what John McCain endured for five and a half years.

Think what you want about Senator McCain’s politics, but let no one question his service to our country.

Here was a man offered the chance to go home. He refused, knowing it could cost him his life. There was no way he would leave before any man captured before him. This is the embodiment of duty, honor, country. Mr. Trump does not know the meaning of those words.

But most telling to me is not Mr. Trump’s bombast, his refusal to show any remorse for his comments about Senator McCain, but his admission that there is not a single time in his life that he sought the forgiveness of God.

A man too arrogant, too self-absorbed, to seek God’s forgiveness is precisely the type of leader John Adams prayed would never occupy the White House.

Adams, Lincoln, FDR — they all went before God on bended knee. They all held this office of great power with humility.

When a candidate under the Republican banner would abandon the tradition of magnanimous leadership of the presidency, when he would seek to demonize millions of citizens, when he would stoop to attack POWs for being captured, I can only ask as Senator Welch did of Senator McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

My fellow Republicans, beware of false prophets. Do not let itching ears be tickled by messengers who appeal to anger, division and resentment.

Resentment is the poison we swallow that we hope harms another. My fellow Republicans, don’t take the poison.

Scripture tells us “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

The candidate who wins the Republican nomination for president will articulate the best vision of “a house united.”

It will be based on a conservatism that works, that appeals to our better angels, that believes in the power of individuals, through hard work and thrift, to improve our lives.

We need a president who rises above personal grievances, petty differences, raw partisan politics. Who puts the nation first, who inspires Americans to believe again and produce again and dream again.

We must move past the empty calories of Trumpism, and return to conservatism.

Then, almost exactly a year ago, here was Rick Perry on CNN’s State of the Union, fretting about Trump’s unseemly relationship with Vladimir Putin.

December 20, 2016

TAPPER: That was Donald Trump defending Russian President Vladimir Putin who all but endorsed Trump this week. Some say Trump embraced him. His Republican rivals not quite so enthusiastic.

Ohio Governor John Kasich sending out this mock poster touting a Trump-Putin ticket, “Make tyranny great again.”

xxxxxx

TAPPER: Just to get that all on the table. OK. So a Vladimir Putin endorsement? I mean —

PERRY: What is next? Fidel Castro. Seriously.

TAPPER: This is the frontrunner of the Republican Party. I would think that would be the kiss of death Vladimir Putin endorsing him.

PERRY: I thought there were a lot of kisses of death, but not so yet. And, you know, this is — we were just discussing in the green room. This is one of the most bizarre political environments I’ve ever been involved with and certainly even observed.

xxxxxx

PERRY: I understand why the electorate out there. They are incredibly frustrated with Washington, D.C. Democrats and Republicans I would (INAUDIBLE).

And I think we need to really get focused on this is serious times and we need a serious individual who is going to be the president of the United States. I totally understand why these people are pulled to him from the standpoint they were so frustrated with Washington, D.C. When Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker and Jeb Bush and myself are basically discounted substantially because they are —

TAPPER: Because you are political people or because you are public servants.

PERRY: We’ve been involved with public service. Although I have got to make the argument, I think those are three pretty successful governors. But because they were seen as political insiders they’ve been cast aside, basically.

And I think Americans really need to think about is this the time in the history of this country that we need to have an individual who is so inconsistent in their thought and their proclamations, I mean, when six months ago this individual said that you need to be really — you need to watch someone who would use inflammatory political rhetoric against Muslims. And six months later he says Muslims cannot be let into the country. Period.

So, fast forward a year, and all America is fretting about Trump’s unseemly relationship with Alexander Putin but somehow, Perry is now apparently President-elect Trump’s choice to lead the third agency – represented below by Perry’s middle finger – that he wanted to eliminate if only he could have recalled it – the U.S. Department of Energy.

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How did this happen?

How did this come to pass?

How did Perry and Trump get beyond their animus for one another?

Well, both of the men have a love of the game, and a sense at some level that it is a game, performance art, show biz.

It is a truism that Trump’s success has driven home and that Perry, perhaps more than any of his peers, absorbed, took to heart, and acted on.

While Ted Cruz (who will not be attorney general) was brooding, and Mitt Romney (who will not be secretary of state) was furrowing his brow, Rick Perry was Dancing with the Stars, not well and not for a long, but selling it with his gung-ho, no holds-barred Aggie yell leader gusto – embarrassing as it was to some of those closest to him – but effectively and, it seems, successfully auditioning for a spot in Donald Trump’s administration.

Secretary of Energy. Hell yes!

(abc.go.com)

 

Eliminate the Department of Energy? Are you kidding?

That’s why, when it came time to name Energy on that long-ago debate stage, he (or his guardian angel) held his tongue, instead, on the spot acknowledging the error of what he was about to say, with that most humble of apologies – OOPS!

 

 

 

 

(abc.go.com)

 

Meanwhile …

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