Is Rick Perry Obama’s last, best hope?
posted at 9:52 am on August 31, 2011 by Jazz Shaw
With the arrival of yet another poll showing Rick Perry moving ahead of Mitt Romney and the rest of the pack, one has to wonder what Team Obama is thinking of all this. I’ve been mulling it over this week, and against all the conventional wisdom, I can’t help but suspect that The Won might be seeing a slender ray of light on an otherwise fairly dark electoral horizon. Why? It all comes down to the type of campaign that the president – along with all Democrats running for congress – plan to deploy next year.
Obama isn’t going to be able to run on his record, obviously. Absent Jesus Himself coming down and beating the unemployment rate downward with a Holy Hammer, the nation is going to be short far too many jobs. The housing market shows zero signs of climbing out of the toilet in time for the next election and the president’s approval ratings have been following a consistent trend into the danger zone. Aside from bagging bin Laden, he doesn’t have much to toot his own horn about. He’s left with no other choice but to paint the eventual nominee as an unacceptable alternative, scaring the center back into his court by essentially saying, “OK… things have been pretty crappy with me in charge, but this guy/gal is even worse!”
His most likely path – or at least one part of it – will be the exact same strategy that the DNCC is already revving up to try to take back the house… Mediscare and the specter of slashing Social Security. Even when Obama was in debt deal talks with John Boehner and talking about “reining in entitlement costs,” we saw Nancy Pelosi scurrying out immediately following each of the President’s speeches, pretty much saying, “Oh, don’t listen to him. We’re not going to approve any cuts to these programs. We’ll save you from the Republicans!”
We’ve already seen a preview of the plan, with ads running which literally depict Paul Ryan pushing granny off of a cliff in her wheelchair. Team Obama must be smiling, thinking of how Perry is already filming their own attack ads for them every time he comes out and says that Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme. (By the way, Governor, it’s really more of a pyramid scheme than a Ponzi scheme, but we can argue semantics another day.) Poll after poll shows that while Americans have slowly come to realize that some changes will need to be made to the program, they oppose any cuts in benefits by a huge margin.
Come debate time, I assume that Obama will already have some sound bites warmed up and ready to go. “I’m the guy who’s trying fix and save Social Security for you. And over there you’ve got the guy calling it a Ponzi Scheme. Who ya gonna trust?”
Perry may have some other long-term problems brewing as well. One of the chief knocks against Barack Obama by his conservative critics – and deservedly so – is his lack of real world business experience. (He’s never run so much as a lemonade stand, etc.) What does Perry bring to the table on that score compared to contenders like Romney and Bachmann? Selling books door to door on his summer vacation and helping out on his father’s cotton farm? Perry’s military experience is highly commendable and gives him a nice leg up on both Obama and most of the rest of the GOP field, but it’s still not the job creating “street cred” which many activists have been screaming for.
Some of the base voters who are showing a preference for Perry over Mitt, specifically, like to mention Romney’s shifting conservatism. (Or “evolving,” if you’re feeling more kind hearted.) These same folks seem to ignore the fact that Perry used to be a Democrat. Heck, he was Al Gore’s Texas campaign chair in 1988. You will likely recall a number of comments by Barack Obama back when people still thought Jon Huntsman might have a chance in hell at the nomination. He loved making pointed quips about what a loyal member of his administration Huntsman had been. It doesn’t require much of a stretch of the imagination to picture Obama saying, “You know, I liked the Governor a lot more when he was a member of our party.” (Insert annoying chuckle here.)
And how about health care? Most of this summer you couldn’t browse a conservative political blog for 24 hours without seeing the phrase, “Romneycare.” And now we’re barely two weeks into the official Perry campaign and we find out he was sending love letters to Hillary Clinton to tell her how “commendable” and “worthy” her efforts to craft Hillarycare were.
Don’t get me wrong here.. Obama is still looking absolutely beatable next year, and none of this may wind up being a disqualifier. But at first blush it certainly looks like a stack of potential talking points for the Democrats and some ready made ammunition against a Perry campaign in the general.