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March 07, 2014

Rick Perry's CPAC Speech

If you don't have time for the eleven and a half minute speech, you can take Allah's advice and skip to 10:00, for his closing ninety seconds.

It's a decent speech. (I'm a jaded critic on speeches, so I tend not to get too excited about them.)

Perry Version 2014 seems to be fighting the ghost of Perry Version 2012. He's much more energetic in this speech than he was in any of the debates. (But of course people tend to be more energetic before friendly crowds.) One can speculate about his reasons for the nerd-cool choice in spectacles.

Another thing he's doing is projecting optimism, hope, and buoyancy, which is of course the advice given to practically any candidate. He also takes time to praise his fellow Republican governors, including, notably, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, both of whom are considering a run for the nomination themselves. So he gets some Nice Guy/Good Guy points. (Notably absent from his list of successful Republican governors: Chris Christie.)

As most readers know, I jumped on the Perry train big-time in 2012, seeing him -- on paper -- as not only the best candidate among the crowded (and uninspiring) 2012 field, but just a good candidate in any cycle. His economic portfolio was/is solid -- Barack Obama hasn't presided over the creation of many jobs in America, but Rick Perry can account for nearly half (48%) of those jobs that Obama wishes to take credit for. (Oh, and Perry's jobs were actually created, not "saved or created or funded" or which "positively impacted" people.)

Of course, there is the candidate on paper, and then there is the candidate under the hot lights and pressure.

As @rdbrewer4 notes in the side bar, Perry says that his 2012 back surgery played a large role in his unpreparedness for the campaign.

In an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper," Perry said he learned a lot from his 2012 campaign experience when he exited the primaries early on.

"I won't have major back surgery six weeks before the announcement," says Perry, of the next possible run for the White House.

When he announced his presidential bid in August 2011, Perry said he felt invincible, telling himself: "I'm 61 years old, I'm bulletproof, I'm 10-feet tall, I can do anything."

But 2012 was "a very humbling experience."

"Anyone who watched that campaign knows it was a very humbling time for me. But thatís not necessarily bad. I judge people on how do you react after a failure? How do you pick yourself up and go forward?

Surely that did have a lot to do with it -- but how much? Perry was plainly unprepared to discuss federal policy and issues in any kind of detail. In fairness, most governors, for whom federal matters are not a day-to-day job (as it is with dummy senators like Biden and Obama), usually cram from a briefing book on such things before their run; plus, most candidates get to begin their runs by stumbling along in low-prominence venues where few people notice them screwing up. Later they get more comfortable and commanding, hopefully.

Perry's back surgery -- maybe combined with an arrogant "I'm Superman, I don't need to study" attitude -- plus his extremely high-profile entry in the race, allowing for no confidence building minor events before his announcement -- probably did result in his general lack of intellectual preparedness. What accounts for his complete lack of political strategic preparedness -- informing a debate hall full of bright-red conservative primary voters that those who oppose in-state tuition for illegal alien children "have no heart" -- I have no idea, but of course judgement is impaired along with mental sharpness when someone's run down.

As someone who's frequently run down -- and not feeling mentally sharp -- myself, this all makes sense to me.

But... I need to see proof that the page has turned from Perry's near-disastrous 2012 run.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm open to Perry, but he does have to show me he's on the ball and has thought more seriously not just about the general principles of conservatism but the practical application of them at the present moment. (For example, on reforming entitlements.)

He speaks (as he always has) forcefully enough on general principles of conservative philosophy and governance; my concern is that details may again be his undoing.

But if they're not -- if he takes his time off to hit that briefing book and study it like he's about to take the SATs -- then he'd be a good candidate.

He says 2012 was humbling, and that the mark of a man is not how he fails, but how he picks himself back up. Which is an incontrovertible sentiment. So I'm watching to see how he's picked himself back up.



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posted by Ace at 12:27 PM

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