Rick Perry’s birther dog-whistle in Parade magazine was no accident, it seems. Rachel debunked herself last night on the notion that overt birtherism would remain a viable political tactic. Then this morning, the New York Times released an interview with Perry conducted by John Harwood (of CNBC and the New York Times) in which the Texas governor makes plain that he thinks this is a big joke:
RICK PERRY: I– it’s a good issue to keep alive. Just– you know, Donald’s got to have some fun. So– and the issue is this.
JOHN HARWOOD: But it sounds like you really do have some doubt about it.
RICK PERRY: Well, look, I haven’t– I haven’t seen his– I haven’t seen his grades. My grades ended up on the front page of the newspaper. So, let’s– you know, if we’re going to show stuff, let’s show stuff. So. But, look, that’s all a distraction. I mean, I get it. I’m– I’m really not worried about the President’s birth certificate. It’s fun to– to poke and add him a little bit and say hey, how about– let’s see your grades and your birth certificate.
JOHN HARWOOD: Well so–
RICK PERRY: But here’s what’s really serious. Is we got people sitting around watching this interview while the president has killed 2 and a half million jobs. That’s serious. And that’s what we got to better get right.
JOHN HARWOOD: But are you saying that your comments about that are kind of a joke? Or do you seriously have unresolved questions like Donald Trump has about them?
RICK PERRY: I don’t have a clue about where the President– and what this– birth certificate says. But it’s also a great distraction. I’m not distracted by it. If those of you in the media want to talk about it that’s fine, but I hope what you’ll really get focused on is how are we going to get this country back on track.
As Rachel noted last night, no serious questions remain about the president’s place of birth, and Governor Perry is showing that he doesn’t take this all that seriously himself. That’s fine; it’s a free country, as they say – he’s free to have “fun” poking the president by entertaining long-debunked racist conspiracy theories. But to say that “it’s a good issue to keep alive” doesn’t appear to be true even for his own political aspirations.
ONE MORE THING.
Those of you who have watched the interview will note that it begins with a question concerning the worsening problem of income inequality. Perry’s response was jaw-dropping, and it’s after the jump. Emphasis is mine.
JOHN HARWOOD: Your plan– by cutting the top rate to 20 percent, eliminating dividends, capital gains, interest income taxes would provide a huge tax cut wealthy people in this country. Given what’s happened with income inequality, why is that a good idea?
RICK PERRY: We’re trying to get this country working again. And that’s what I focus on. And as a matter of fact as we looked and we talked, and as we went through what are the ways to really give incentives to those that are going to risk their capital to create the jobs. I mean, this country’s got 14 plus million out of work. And– I want to get that money back out into the economy– where people have confidence that they can have a return on their investment, and they’ll hire– individuals.
And that’s what this is really all about. Those that want to get into the class warfare and talk about, oh my goodness, there are going to be some folks here who– make more money out of this, or have access to more money, I’ll let them do that. I’m worried about that man or woman sitting around– the coffee table tonight or in their kitchen talking about how are we going to get to work. How are we going to have the dignity to take care of our family. This plan does that. And it also is a tax cut across the board. It doesn’t make any difference what– strata you’re in. It gives a tax cut across the board.
JOHN HARWOOD: But for those at the top, it is hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of dollars for them.
RICK PERRY: But I don’t care about that. What I care about is them having the dollars to– invest in their companies. To go out and maybe start a business because they got the confidence again ‘cause they actually get to keep more of what they work for. This idea that we’ve got to have a tax system in this– country where you take more away from– those that have the ability to create jobs. I’m all about job creation. That’s what I’ve done for ten years as the governor of Texas, and that’s what I’m focused on.