I remember seeing it employed on the playground when I was very young, and later on, in intramural sports. I recall using it once in the eighth grade, when I lost my cool after losing a wrestling match, flung my headgear against the wall and planned to stomp off the mat. (My mother foiled that, right quick.)
What I'm talking about is the "I can't do it, so it's stupid" defense. The point isn't simply that one fails at an activity; that happens to all of us. What compounds the failure is an urge to delegitimize the activity itself.
On Tuesday, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry offered his "I can't do it, so it's stupid" assessment of political debates to Bill O'Reilly of Fox News. Governor Perry deemed debates as being set up to do "nothing more than to tear down the candidates." (Clip's above.)
The Texas governor's apprehension is understandable, given reviews of his debate performances and the forthcoming schedule of, yes, many more Republican debates. His spokesman told CNN last night that Governor Perry will likely not show up for some future debates, opting instead to spend time with voters.
Texas Monthly senior executive editor Paul Burka, who has long covered Governor Perry, thinks that it's a smart move, kitchen-sink strategy or not. Today he writes that if it proves to be a winning strategy, skipping debates may have broader consequences:
Perry has a point–so much so that it could change how candidates view future debates, not just this year but in years to come. If Perry skips most of the rest of the debates, spends his time campaigning instead, and goes on to win the Republican nomination, he could set a precedent that the networks would hate, but it might change the future of American politics.
For what's it worth, there's a general election right after the nomination. It's rumored there will be debates during that, too.