Rick Perry as "the oops guy"

I was watching Thomas Roberts on MSNBC this morning while having coffee and heard him teasing a story about Texas Governor Rick Perry and a potential 2016 presidential run. The only thing which stuck in my mind was his description of Perry as the oops guy. This was only one of many recent examples in the media of an established narrative. It’s the same one being distributed nationally by Democrat group American Bridge who described Perry’s history as, the embarrassment from his last campaign.

Examples abound, but this is the theme which opponents have settled on. In essence, it says that the very idea of Rick Perry running for president again is not worthy of serious consideration because he’s a clown.. a joke.. not a serious person. Obviously the Governor disagrees.

“We are a substantially different, versed candidate,” he said. He noted that other politicians who endure such humiliation might “scurry off to the quietness and the comfort of some obscure place, and I wasn’t interested in doing that. I think that this country is begging for leadership.”


Perry insists that he has not decided whether to run and said he won’t announce a decision until May or June, but he nonetheless offered a rationale for his candidacy.

“You want the guy in the front left seat to be more than a low-time, private pilot,” he said. “You’d like to have the person in the front left seat of your aircraft being a rather high-time, experienced aviator.”

Perry, who served as an Air Force pilot before becoming the longest-serving governor in his state’s history, said he sees himself as this metaphorical aviator.

Yes, Rick Perry had one or two seriously guffaw-worthy moments during the 2012 campaign, most notably when he listed only two of his own list of three agenda items. But are a couple of linguistic missteps or lapses in memory under the klieg lights while dealing with a crippling lower back medical problem really disqualifiers? (None of which, of course, are nearly as bad as calling this august web site Hot Gas.)

Perhaps that is where the bar is set in American politics, and if so it’s obviously nothing new. Back in the 80s, Dan Quayle was widely regarded as a brilliant man and a scholar who rose to prominence in Indiana, quickly earning offices in both the House and Senate, then becoming Vice President at a very early age. But he became little more than a punchline after a bit of confusion over the orbit of Mars and an apparent inability to correctly spell potato. (As my wife is fond of pointing out, I’m embarrassed to admit that I generally can’t spell “embarrassed” without a spell checker. I just can’t make my fingers type that second R.) After leaving office, Quayle was essentially a laughing stock.

Rick Perry has had some gaffes to be sure, but he has also amassed a record of success as an executive in Texas which stacks up well against pretty much anyone else in the nation. Can the public look past the repeating media themes about him as some sort of bumbling, forgetful, Mr. Magoo character? I’m not saying that Perry will be – or even should be – the nominee, but relegating him to the dustbin of political history over a few on stage flubs seems to be a waste of tremendous potential.

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