Six minutes of red meat from MM, who laid aside some sharp policy differences with Perry to defend him here. Ed already covered the “Is Perry dumb?” Politico article this morning, but now that I’ve read it, the verdict seems more mixed than “yeah, he’s awful stupid.” It reminded me, in fact, of what you sometimes hear about FDR. It’s not that he was dumb, he was just … smart in a different way:
Presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, who is a scholar-in-residence in history and public policy at George Mason University, disagrees.
“I don’t think there is a direct correlation between success in the classroom as tested by a grade book and success in the Oval Office,” he told TheDC…
“FDR had an incredible emotional intelligence. FDR read people, not books,” Smith said. “His career in college was undistinguished, but then, frankly, you know, there were lots of ‘Gentleman’s C’s’ at Harvard in those days.”
Smith continued: “What Roosevelt demonstrated from an early age was a capacity for leadership, and that is something that dramatically accelerated with age. It wasn’t something he learned in a classroom. It is something he learned from life.”
Is there any GOP presidential candidate this year who can’t be caricatured as crazy, evil, or stupid by the left, per their time-honored tradition? Huntsman doesn’t count: Any Republican who dumps on those to his right for being fringe-y earns an automatic exemption from the crazy/evil/stupid matrix, even though he’s also to the right of liberals on the issue for which they’re celebrating him. Romney almost avoids all three but Democrats’ accusations of “weirdness” against him are really just “crazy” by another name. The only guy I can think of to whom none of those labels would stick is Pawlenty, which is precisely the reason the White House didn’t want to face him in the general. If they can’t demagogue the Republican nominee then they have to run on their record, and that’s a recipe for a landslide. (Said one Democratic strategist of Obama: “If the election were next Tuesday he’d lose. That’s how bad it is.”) It’s surreal that their campaign message might boil down to urging people to vote for President Nine-Percent Unemployment because he’s super-smart ‘n stuff, but you play the cards you’re dealt. That’s pretty much their last card.
Ah well. I’m already looking forward to Politico’s inevitable follow-up pieces, “Is Rick Perry crazy?” and “Is Rick Perry evil?”