. . . for president — aside from his successful record as the three-term governor of Texas — comes down to an instinctive, gut-level sense I rely on in daily life in dealing with people. I’ve always had a pretty good BS detector and can usually tell within a minute or two of interacting with a person whether or not they can be trusted. There are no specific signs I look out for — no “tells” as they say at poker tables — but rather an innate sense of when someone is on the level.
As it happens, of all the candidates who have a credible chance of defeating Obama in November, Rick Perry is the only one who doesn’t send the needle on my BS detector spinning like a whirling dervish. And given the respective histories of the two men currently leading the race, I’m completely at a loss to explain how anyone on earth could possibly not have the same experience. The difference in the overall level of trustworthiness among them is so stark as to invite laughter upon comparison.
Both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have long, well established histories of betraying the conservative movement — whether through support for government healthcare mandates, acquiescence to anthropogenic climate change hysteria, endorsing massive taxpayer bailouts of financial institutions, or favoring huge subsidies to an already profitable agricultural industry. These aren’t the kind of chump-change concessions to political reality that legislators and executives are sometimes forced to make in the interest of the greater good of the movement. They’re outright betrayals of principle that just a few short months ago had conservatives taking to the streets.
Rick Perry hasn’t been the perfect candidate, nor has he been the perfect conservative throughout his long career. He has admittedly advocated proposals that have upset certain elements of the right in Texas — his Gardasil mandate and support for the Trans-Texas Corridor, for example. But his advocacy on those matters can’t fairly be depicted as setbacks for the entire conservative movement. Infrastructure projects and immunization requirements have never been considered anathema by the American right. Conservatives have never taken to the streets in the millions to voice outrage over such things.
And yet we find ourselves in a place where the one man who has consistently opposed the kind of government encroachments on the free market that stirred the outrage of millions of conservatives is trailing by a fairly wide margin two men who played a major part in creating the conditions that stirred the outrage. In Mitt Romney, we have the very architect of the healthcare legislation that is strangling the nation’s economy and costing millions of jobs. In Newt Gingrich, we have the man who lobbied extensively and aggressively on behalf of one of the institutions responsible for the collapse in the housing markets that have led to the decimation of the value of millions of American homes.
Rick Perry has consistently and vocally opposed that kind of government interference in markets, and yet he somehow finds himself trailing the two men who could fairly be said to have helped bring about the difficulties America faces today. Were it not for Mitt Romney’s passage of healthcare mandates in Massachusetts, there might not be an Obamacare to repeal. Were it not for Newt Gingrich’s active lobbying on behalf of Freddie Mac, we might have been able to institute actual reforms on the government-sponsored entities that made so many irresponsible loans in the name of the “Ownership Society” that would have prevented the collapse in home prices and the resulting meltdown in the financial sector.
For all of Rick Perry’s flaws as a debater and his various verbal miscues, he’s never said or done anything that would make me question whether the man is worthy of my support. There are no lingering doubts about whether I’ll live to regret the day decided to support him as the Republican nominee. I don’t have to rationalize my decision to advocate on Rick Perry’s behalf. I don’t have to convince myself that he’s a changed man in order to feel good about my choice.
All those conservatives currently supporting either Newt or Mitt have to struggle with their consciences, wondering if they’ve done right by the cause if they manage to succeed in getting them elected. All they have to point to in their support for either of those two men is hope and change. That is, in boosting the candidacies of either Newt or Mitt, all they can do is hope that they’ve changed.
I’d rather stand or fall with Rick Perry and all his human foibles than engage in the intellectual and moral contortions it would take for me to support either of his two biggest competitors. Less than a year ago, it seemed unimaginable that any conservative in good standing would feel otherwise. Unfortunately, it now seems that a majority of conservatives are no more consistent than the two men who lead the field today.
How soon they forget.
UPDATE II: A big welcome to readers of The PJ Tatler! Many thanks for the excerpt and Scuttlebutt link! Please feel free to comment on the piece, and if you feel so inclined, bookmark this humble blog for future reference.
UPDATE III: Once again, many thanks to Will Franklin of Team Perry for the link in today’s edition of The Perry Almanac! It’s a daily email digest of the latest developments surrounding Rick Perry’s campaign for the GOP nomination, and you can sign up for it by clicking this here link. It only takes something like 18 seconds, unless you type like I do — in which case it’s more like a day or two. Hopefully, though, you’re better than that.