Barack Obama offended some when he said America has “been a little bit lazy, I think, over the past couple of decades.” Rick Perry won a few points with the base when he took him to task for it in a new ad. But the Texas governor also drew criticism from some who said he took Obama’s comments out of context.

Undaunted by the criticism, Rick Perry stood by the ad in an interview with Bill O’Reilly last night — and also repeated in no uncertain terms that he thinks Obama has pursued socialist policies — and, consequently, can fairly be called a socialist. CNN Political Ticker reports:

“Absolutely,” Perry said in an interview on Fox News. “I think Barack Obama is a socialist.” …

O’Reilly on Friday questioned Perry over whether he was being misleading with the ad.

“I believe he was talking about Americans,” Perry responded.

O’Reilly asked the candidate if he believed the notion that Obama simply doesn’t like America, to which Perry replied: “I think he cares for this country. I just think his policies are socialist.”

Perry’s comments have validity: Obama has never exactly been shy about his belief in the benefits of “spreading the wealth” or the need for the rich to “pay their fair share.” What I’ve wondered, actually, is how long it will take progressives who do embrace socialistic policies to reclaim the word “socialist” itself and refer to themselves by it with pride and transparency. Is it just that they know they never escape the connotation of the word, which carries with it the baggage of all the failed socialistic policies attempted in countries around the world in the 20th century? But, surely, with this crop of experts, this crop of central planners, the outcome would be different …

As for Perry, I’m with AP on this. When he first breathed fire with talk of the “Ponzi scheme” of Social Security, I was thrilled by his willingness to speak truth no matter how “extreme” it made him appear. Now, I’m less excited because his willingness to speak is not necessarily matched by his ability to speak. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to muster at least as much enthusiasm for him as for any other candidate in the end.