As predicted and depicted, the savvy timing of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s announcement last weekend all but eclipsed the Iowa straw poll (and every candidate in it). But for all Mr. Perry’s smooth politics at the outset, he is now officially in the race and thus exposed to the scrutiny presidential candidates can expect. Is Governor Perry “all hat and no cattle,” as one Texas Democrat claims?
Reporting in recent days has looked acutely at Perry’s record as governor, including: his execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, a man who may have been innocent; religious associations; foreign policy and national security; gender politics; his 2010 book, which includes his assertion that Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional (which TRMS examined last night). Even Perry’s collegiate pranks have been written up. And while none of that information may make Republican voters flinch, other things very well might.
Governor Perry took a Texas-sized misstep yesterday, per conservative columnist John Podhoretz:
He’s trying to be the next president, and he needs to be judged on that standard. What Perry did was make a thoughtless blunder, an unforced error; we’re now going to spend a couple of days discussing whether he was summoning violence on Ben Bernanke’s head or not, which is of absolutely no use to Perry.
Mr. Podhoretz is referring to Governor Perry’s comment yesterday about Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, in which he said, “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.” (Video here.)
But it’s not the puff-out-my-chest, Texas dirt-kicker, “pretty ugly” part that really resonates. It’s the very ugly thing Perry said next:
“Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.”
One thing (Perry) does seem to understand in these remarks is that if the Federal Reserve were to engage in expansionary monetary policy over the next 18 months, that would increase the economic growth rate. My view is that an increase in the economic growth rate would be a good thing, and that therefore the Fed should do this. Perry’s view appears to be that an increase in the economic growth rate would help Barack Obama’s re-election bid and therefore any steps to make it happen would be borderline treason. That, to me, seems like news.
Matt Yglesias concludes by noting how proud Governor Perry seems to be of his jobs record, and how odd it is that he’d oppose something that creates jobs nationwide. Given a chance today to walk back the comments, Perry’s campaign doubled down. Have Republican politics run so far to the extreme that Rick Perry (he of the “Texas miracle”) thinks it’s better to frame an Obama re-election as a more urgent disaster than putting money into the economy to create jobs?