Oops: Perry Gets It
November 19, 2011
Governor Rick Perry had a bad moment in one of the two debates last week. He promised that if he becomes president, three federal agencies will be entirely eliminated: the Department of Commerce, the Department of Education, and the Department of Energy.
Except he couldn’t name the Department of Energy.
Here’s the moment (with some context):
Of course I agree that that’s bad, as far as it goes (and yes, I thought the Saturday Night Live sketch was funny), but I also want to make two points.
First, we all make mistakes; slipping up from time to time doesn’t mean he’s dumb or would not be a good president. Consider the following:
At least we can all learn from our mistakes, right?
(President Obama still calls a navy corpsman a “navy corpseman”, twice.)
(Then-candidate Obama repeatedly stutters and can’t remember what he wanted to say; he calls an inhaler a “Breathalyzer”, then tries to correct himself and calls it an “inhalator”.)
(Candidate Obama pauses to think about it, and confirms that he has campaigned in “fifty-seven states”.)
(In first ten seconds of video, President Obama refers to his location as “here in Asia”, while speaking in Hawaii.)
As even a sympathetic source reports, there was also the time when “Obama got up to sort the problem out, but just ended up showing everyone how much he relies on the ever-present teleprompter by thanking himself for hosting himself as he read the speech prepared for Prime Minister Cowen.”
President Obama has made any number of mistakes, but if you consume only liberal news media, you may never have heard of any of them. If he were a conservative, you would almost certainly have heard of them; that’s the narrative—liberals are brilliant, conservatives are dumb. (This narrative dates back at least to Reagan.)
It would be a shame if we let imperfections in form obscure the substance of what Perry was (and is) saying, because there’s some great stuff in there, important ideas for saving America. I remember Mark Steyn remarking a few months ago that in his opinion, any candidate (for the Republican presidential nomination) not talking about eliminating whole federal agencies was not serious about dealing with the crisis facing America. Rick Perry is now one of the few candidates who are. I hope America will seriously consider him and his plan.
As Steyn sarcastically commented after the “oops” moment, “remember, folks, Rick Perry is the dummy because he wants to abolish so many government departments, he can’t keep track of them all.” (Read the whole thing.) That sort of sums up the problem: It’s a huge, bloated federal government, with a lot of agencies and a lot of laws and regulations. Increasingly it’s so complex that it takes a very smart person and a lot of time and effort (or hired help) just to survive as a citizen of this country (e.g., to pay your taxes), to say nothing of running it. As Perry’s Web site jokes in a new poll, “What part of the Federal Government would you like to forget about the most?” We should be cutting much more than the three agencies Perry was thinking of, not less.
(Full disclosure: I have money on Perry, among other candidates. I think that means that I thought he was a good choice for president—and had a chance of winning—and therefore put money on him, rather than the other way around, but you as the reader should be allowed to make your own judgment about that; so I think I’m under an obligation to you to disclose.)