A tough year for Rick Perry

Perry entered 2011 at the top of the political food chain, having dispatched the best challengers available in the state in his and the other political party. He managed to straddle the divide between establishment Republicans and insurgent Tea Party Republicans, and to become — after a quarter of a century in public office — the poster boy for the conservative anti-government movement.

It seems a little ridiculous to credit luck for all of the last 20-plus years, but plenty of people do. If that was a run of luck, the last four months have started to balance things. Perry made a spectacle of himself in the debates, is spending millions in an effort to stay out of last place in Iowa and apparently wasn’t organized enough to get on the ballot in Virginia.

What if it’s not luck? Perry excelled in a combative and competitive political culture and looked, even to the wise owls in Washington and elsewhere, like the real deal. Remember July and August, when he was the hot ticket?