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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rick Perry Sounds, Looks More & More Like George W. Bush (Decision 2012)

How Rick Perry really differs from George W. Bush

It’s an inevitable comparison.

They’re both Texans. One is a governor; one was a governor. And both of them have been photographed near planes. On the surface, they might be easy to confuse.

But what’s the real difference between Rick Perry, now a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, and George W. Bush?


“He’s a Yale graduate. I’m a Texas A&M graduate,” Perry explained to reporters.

Policy differences? Perry wouldn’t say. Instead, CNN reported, he devoured an entire pork tenderloin, calling it “the other white meat.”

But for anyone else wondering about the differences between the two, here is a list I came up with earlier, composed mainly of facts about Rick Perry and occasionally of myths about Rick Perry that Perry has been working hard to disseminate.

George W. Bush: Has not, as far as we can tell, threatened to end Ben Bernanke.

Rick Perry: Has threatened to do Bad Texan Things to Ben Bernanke (“I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas” if Bernanke prints more money).

George W. Bush: Has written a book with a polysyllabic word in the title.

Rick Perry: Has written a book.

George W. Bush: Is probably not carrying a gun.

Rick Perry: Is probably carrying a gun.

George W. Bush: Likes to make up whimsical words.

Rick Perry: If anyone coins any new words, he would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.

George W. Bush: Pardoned some turkeys at Thanksgiving.

Rick Perry: Would never sit by at such a miscarriage of justice; plans to execute several innocent turkeys immediately upon taking office.

George W. Bush: Sometimes cried in public.

Rick Perry: Only cries in public because his tears have the power of job creation.

George W. Bush: Has never fought a coyote.

Rick Perry: “The Second Amendment allows me to go jogging with my daughter’s dog over here. And if a coyote jumps out, I can take care of it.”

George W. Bush: Got misunderestimated.

Rick Perry: Gets misoverestimated.

George W. Bush: Is the son of a president.

Rick Perry: Emerged fully formed from the head of Zeus, clutching a dead coyote.

George W. Bush: Was president.

Rick Perry: Looks like he was president in one of those made-for-TV movies in the mid-’90s.

George W. Bush: At one point controlled the economy.

Rick Perry: Controls the winds!

Hide your wife, hide your kids, because Rick Perry will find them and give them jobs the Texas way, and then afterward he will eat pork tenderloin with them and shoot any coyotes that threaten them, including, but not limited to, Ben Bernanke. If you hand Rick Perry your purse, it will burst into flames. Rick Perry doesn’t hold purses! Wherever Rick Perry walks, thousands of jobs spring up at his feet! Once, Rick Perry visited New York City, and New York City apologized to him.

My point is, Rick Perry is nothing like George W. Bush. Rick Perry Facts have already sprung up on Twitter, but as fast as you can make up erroneous sayings, he is telling us that he is going to take care of coyotes, saying he loves the Second Amendment best of all the amendments (don’t tell the 10th Amendment that!) and blowing kisses to Mitt Romney (don’t tell the 10th Amendment that either).

If George W. Bush had done that, people would have thought it was sort of cute. When Rick Perry does that, it is a terrifying display of dominance that makes donors rush to his feet with piles of bullion.

The real difference is that Rick Perry is George W. Bush without all those sissified East Coast things that George W. Bush used to do, like “not wear cowboy boots everywhere” and “do rather poorly at an East Coast university.” “What do I need to go to the East Coast for?” Perry asks. “I can do that right here in Texas.”

3 Points on Rick Perry

1) Until I saw clips of him in the past two or three days, I hadn't realized how much watching and seeing Perry is just like having George W. Bush back in our living rooms. Maybe this will be an ingredient for strong conservative support. I can't imagine that any sophisticated Republican operative thinks it's a plus in winning 270 electoral votes. When Republicans ran against the first post-Nixon Democratic president, in 1980, they didn't try to find someone who looked and sounded like Tricky Dick.

2) Just after Sarah Palin was nominated three years ago, I argued that anyone who moves all at once from state-level to national-level politics is going to be shocked by the greater intensity of the scrutiny and the broader range of expertise called for. Therefore that person is destined to make mistakes; the question is how bad they will be. For Palin, they showed up in her disastrous first few interviews, especially with Katie Couric. Perry is getting his own introduction to this principle just now.

3) For the past few months, Democrats have had the suspicion that Republicans are playing a double or even triple-game in opposing the Obama Administration on spending and deficit issues. At the most principled levels, they're upholding their belief in a smaller government. At the next level down, they're trying to limit Obama's operational successes wherever they can. And, most cynical of all, they understand the idea of "the worse, the better." The surest path toward beating Obama next year is for the economy to stagnate or decline.

Perry's comments about Ben Bernanke cut through any such subtlety. If Bernanke "prints money" in the next 15 months, toward the end of forestalling a recession or preserving jobs, Perry would consider that "almost treasonous." This is the kind of thing you just don't hear from national-level politicians, and for a reason. (For starters: the punishment for treason is death.)

Obama looks better the more the Republican field displays its outlook and temperament. Romney looks better the more the anyone-but-Romney alternatives come into full view.


Brad Delong of Berkeley, with whom I usually agree, somewhat snottily contends that Republicans have been saying this all the way along. When it comes to thwarting Obama, and playing the game of "the worse, the better," of course, as many people including me keep pointing out.

But when it comes to presidential candidates making accusations of treason, a capital offense, against (Republican-appointed) financial officials, unt-uh. That is obviously what I was talking about, and that is in fact new. As I am sure Delong will realize on second thought.

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Sources: Fox News, The Atlantic, Think Progress, Washington Post, Youtube, Google Maps

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