Peggy Noonan: Is Rick Perry too macho?

I can’t shake the feeling that this column might not be well received by the base.

She’s referring, of course, to his comments about Bernanke’s near-treason and offhand musings about secession:

Mr. Perry’s primary virtue for the Republican base is that he means it. He comes across as a natural conservative, Texas Division, who won’t be changing his mind about his basic premises any time soon. His professed views don’t seem to be an outfit he can put on and take off at will. In this of course he’s the anti-Romney. Unlike Ms. Bachmann, he has executive experience, three terms as governor of a state with 25 million people.

His primary flaw appears to be a chesty, quick-draw machismo that might be right for an angry base but wrong for an antsy country. Americans want a president who feels their anger without himself walking around enraged

[T]he nation is roiling and restive. After Mr. Obama was elected, the right became angry, feisty, and created a new and needed party, the tea party. The right was on fire. The next time a Republican wins, and that could be next year, it will be the left that shows real anger, with unemployment high and no jobs available and government spending and services likely to be cut. The left will be on fire. The only thing leashing them now is the fact of Mr. Obama.

So there will be plenty of new angers out there. It probably won’t be helpful if the next president is someone likely to add to the drama with a hot temperament or carelessness.

I’ve never had the sense that Perry is “walking around enraged.” I do think he sometimes gets too cute in trying to project the John Wayne vibe that he’s got going. The Bernanke crap seemed to me to be his way of winking at “frontier justice” and the secession nonsense was basically a tin-eared riff on “don’t mess with Texas.” Noonan seems to believe he can’t control himself when he says these things but I think it’s more calculated — not planned in advance but willingly indulged in when he senses a rhetorical moment developing organically that’ll help polish his image as a steely, plain-spoken southerner. He knows what he’s doing; you don’t get elected governor of Texas three times without being a savvy retail politician. And while it’s true that “Texas style” might not translate well everywhere nationally, how serious a liability is that really? TNR argued yesterday, quite reasonably, that Perry is an almost perfect synthesis of every quality the left despises. That won’t change even if he never makes another “tough guy” gaffe, so prepare for seething, hysterical, pants-crapping rage from liberals if Perry gets elected no matter how circumspect he is about his language. And as for centrists who might be squeamish at the thought of electing a Rooster Cogburn type to the presidency, all Perry need do is utter a single word: “Jobs.” That’s his get-out-of-jail-free card for basically everything, and the worse the economy gets, the more useful it’ll be.

Which is not to say there won’t be more criticism in the same vein as Noonan’s. Another op-ed out today by an Iraq War vet warned Perry not to presume to speak for the military when criticizing Obama. Semi-related: Here’s Jeb Bush on Cavuto a few days ago. Was his point about not ascribing bad motives to The One an allusion to this? Remember, the Bush camp and the Perry camp aren’t on the same side. Yet.