Gov. Rick Perry's inability to remember the third federal agency he wants to eliminate is no reason to mock his intelligence.
I see a richer target: the abject failure of the Tea Party folks to take this thing seriously, this thing being the better running of our national government.
If you really don't think someone is doing his or her job, you are unlikely to forget that person's name. If you really don't think a government agency isn't doing its job, you are unlikely to forget its name. You've got it in your gut, just as you would the name of person not doing his or her job. You don't forget what you want to eradicate.
That's unless you're simply not serious. And this is precisely my criticism of the Tea Party people - the ones who throw around terms like "secession" without any sense of the horror that word unleashed on this country, the history it speaks of.
Rick Perry's intelligence is not being measured by these debates; his seriousness about the role of government is being tested.
And he is flunking that test, as are most of the people at his end of the political spectrum. The trouble with the people who hate big government is that they have no idea about what government involves - the history of government's role in this country's economic development.
Why are we bound together coast to coast economically for all these years? Because of the transcontinental railroad.
Why are we the country best known for scientific agriculture? Because of the Land Grant College Act Abraham Lincoln signed that created all the state universities that have enriched our knowledge of agriculture.
Why did we have the educated middle class that took this country to the top of the world economically in the generations after World War II? Because of the GI Bill which, in a very real way, created the modern American middle class that raised most of us.
Understanding the positive economic role of government is critical to any debate about regaining our economic momentum today. Those that don't know it, those who think they don't have to know it, will continue be the clowns at the rodeo.