Every successful presidential campaign requires a little touch of hero-worship and personality cult, although again the Obama experience demonstrates the dangers of overdosing on this sort of thing. Perry, as a poster boy for gun-toting Texans (he once shot a coyote while jogging), has inspired a bit of that. If you’ve seen the burgeoning “Rick Perry Facts” meme on the web (@rickperryfacts on Twitter, for example), after the mold of the Chuck Norris Facts, they’re a good example of pumping up Perry’s Texas tough guy image with the proper air of absurdity to avoid taking themselves too seriously. Nobody is going to depict Perry as a “Lightworker” who brings meaning to our lives, paint pictures of him astride a unicorn, or argue that he will fundamentally change the American people or hold back the tides. He’s simply a successful political leader who wants to apply his talents to improving how our federal government works, in many cases by imitating things that have already been done on the federal or state level in the past.
We all have our biases in preferring candidates. I know three of mine. One, which Perry fits just as have Pawlenty, Palin, Ryan, Rubio, Giuliani, Christie, and even Ronald Reagan, is a preference for Republicans who didn’t grow up wealthy or from prominent families, who have had to scrap their way up the ladder. I’ve voted for my share of to-the-manor-born Republicans and surely will again, but I still feel like Republicans who have had to claw their way up from middle-class or harder backgrounds tend to understand better at a gut level what the party really stands for, how hard it has to work to win, and why it appeals to Americans who don’t come from money and influence. But Perry doesn’t exactly fit the second (I tend to like candidates who are, like me, either lawyers or otherwise talkers, fast on their feet and clever in debate) and as for the third…so sue me, I’m a New Yorker, I prefer not to run Southerners, who tend to get counted out easily by much of the rest of the country. But it’s important to know your biases precisely so you don’t let them dictate your choices. I’d rather have run a candidate from another region of the country, but if Perry’s the best we have – and I think of the current field he is, and that whatever rumors you hear, we’re unlikely to get another top-shelf entrant – he’s my candidate. He doesn’t need to be my hero.