I’ve got one thing to say to Obama supporters: chill on the Rick Perry snark.
Here are just a few examples.
In this week’s New Yorker comment, editor David Remnick, author of The Bridge, a biography about the President, wrote the following:
‘Leading from behind’ …. The phrase ricocheted from one Murdoch-owned editorial page and television studio to the next; Obama was daily pilloried as a timorous pretender who, out of a misbegotten sense of liberal guilt, unearned self-regard, and downright unpatriotic acceptance of fading national glory, had handed over the steering wheel of global leadership to the Élysée Palace.
We were, as Mitt Romney put it, “following the French into Libya.” The President was “dithering,” Sarah Palin declared. John McCain wanted boots on the ground.
….. Rick Perry, for his part, shot an elephant in his pajamas.
You can just hear the chuckles emanating from the page as the reader moves seamlessly along Remnick’s defense of Obama’s actions toward Libya as an example of his pragmatic, non-doctrinaire foreign policy.
Silly, backwards Texan. Unengaged, misinformed, highly religious neanderthal Perry.
Check out this post from Think Progress’ Ian Millhiser. After talking about Perry’s statements that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional, Millhiser writes (Again, I’ve bolded the snarky part):
Perry’s reading of the Constitution raises very serious questions about whether he understands the English language. The Constitution gives Congress the power to “to lay and collect taxes” and to “provide for the…general welfare of the United States.” No plausible interpretation of the words “general welfare” does not include programs that ensure that all Americans can live their entire lives secure in the understanding that retirement will not force them into poverty and untreated sickness.
For those who would say that Think Progress is a left-leaning blog, so should be expected to write as much, consider this opening paragraph from a piece from Amy Bingham ofABC News:
What would America be like under a Rick Perry presidency? Well, if Rick Perry’s Texas is any indication, the country could look forward to 85 mph speed limits, hog hunting from helicopters and a security check “fast-lane” for concealed handgun carriers.
The article goes on to highlight seven laws from the past legislative session that are “uniquely Texas,” and to include a quote from a University of Texas that says the Texas legislative session is “often a circus of curious legislation.”
“You can go to any session and pull out a few things that are unusual to say the least,” the professor said.
Which is precisely what Bingham has done-draw on selected examples to use as the basis for a larger argument about how Perry would govern the United States, if elected.
Don’t get me wrong.
I am neither looking away from all of what many consider to be bizarre aspects that Perry brings to the race.
My point is several fold.
The first is that by engaging in a sarcastic dismissal, you fail to engage the radically conservative vision the man is espousing and to which many Americans are responding enthusiastically.
After announcing his candidacy just over two weeks ago, the man has jumped to the top of a number of credible polls, is considered one of the top two Republicans and is projected to be running in a dead heat with Obama.
But smugly dismissing the man as a right-wing nut case fails both to examine the more substantial aspects of where he would take the country and to talk in a way that might convince wavering independents who could play a critical role in next year’s elections.
I’m not suggesting either backing away from Perry or being overly deferential to him.
By all means, talk about the man, his record, and his plans.
But do so in a way that leaves the possibility of reaching new and different people, rather than will just convince those people that the authors and their readers are self-impressed people who are providing no meaningful alternative.
The failure to take Perry and the people who support him seriously has already contributed to the rise of the Tea Party and the disproportionate influence their members yielded during the recent debt ceiling debacle that led to the nation’s credit rating being downgraded.
Such blithe dismissal rather than concerted opposition to Perry and a simultaneous pushing of Obama to govern from the hopeful and transformative vision he articulated so memorably and movingly in 2008 could play a role in Perry getting elected, as did George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, two other Republican governors who were underestimated before taking the nation’s highest office, did before him.
For many, that wouldn’t be funny at all.