One of the few genuine pleasures of the GOP nomination process has been playing witness to the Rick Perry implosion. It is strikingly reminiscent of the events that led to the failed candidacy of Fred Thompson in 2008. With his genial grandad persona and “plain spoken horse sense” Thompson was annointed a sort of Republican child Lama, the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan who would carry the presidency by channeling the Gipper, raised aloft into the White House by a throng of GOP faithful. Yet when he dropped into the race, instead of walking on air, Thompson fell to earth with a dull thud. Apparently the guy was just too lazy to get up and walk, and the rest of the field just ambled past him.
Perry, likewise, came into the race as the gun-wielding, neo-secessionist guru and anointed prophet of the Tea Party cult. His initial poll numbers were impressive and news outlets fell over themselves to pronounce Perry the Republican frontrunner before he’d had so much as an opportunity to announce his bid. Yet like Thompson before him, Perry quickly fell to earth once it became amply clear that the quip that Perry was “George W. Bush minus the gravitas and intellectual curiosity” was about as accurate a description of the man as one could hope to fashion in ten words or less. Indeed, that description proved so close to reality that even the Tea Party (heretofore enamoured of certifiably insane Christofascist Michelle Bachmann) was able to see him for the pretty-faced imbecile he was.
It may well be that the last nail in the Perry coffin was finally hammered in during Tuesday’s Bloomberg dabate when, responding to an accusation of Mitt Romney’s that Perry has thus far failed to present a viable economic plan, Perry retorted by noting that Romney had been doing this sort of thing much longer than he had, so it was unfair to expect a fully formed plan from him as yet. It’s always a bad sign when your retort to an accusation could just as easily have been an extension of the accusation itself. Had he been quicker on his feet, Romney might have responded “You’re right, Rick… I have been thinking about these issues and developing policy proposals much longer than you have. Thanks for making my point for me.”
That said, one shouldn’t give the Tea Party too much credit in all this. Much of their distatste for Perry springs from the fact that he doesn’t seem to hate the children of illegal immigrants with the requisite fervor. And let us not forget that their current darling is not the more measured Romney, but rather Herman Cain, a guy who ridicules the notion that the President of the United States of America should be expeceted to have a rudimentary grasp of geopolitics (or even, geography) and whose 9-9-9 economic plan reads like it was dreamed up in the champagne room of a Vegas strip club by a group of junior hedge fund managers in town to blow their yearly bonuses on black-jack, hookers and cocaine.
All in all, though, let’s face it: there’s been a dearth of good news lately, not much to smile about, so let us enjoy what simple gifts come our way. As for my Tejano friends, sorry, but there’s a box at your doorstep marked “return to sender.”