At a press conference yesterday in San Antonio, Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) announced that he wouldn't run for another term as governor in 2014.
"The time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership," he said.
Actually, that time passed long ago.
My friend Shelly Goldstein quipped that Perry is not running for reelection so that he could devote all his time to losing the Presidency in 2016.
She's pretty close to the mark. The thing is, it's not unreasonable to think that Rick Perry could possibly, maybe get the GOP nomination in 2016, since he's clearly been pushing himself as far to the right as a Republican can go without falling off the edge of the flat earth. And he's starting out with a high profile, having run for the nomination before. The problem for him is the same as any Republican positioning himself so far, far, far to the right -- and that's not only being so radically right that you can't come close to winning in a general election, but also that you risk getting swamped in a landslide. Much as the religious right and Tea Party corporation members might adore you for bludgeoning women over abortion, for just one example, but such a draconian position is deeply antithetical to the general populace. And it loses you the women's vote because even starting.
His bullying, ill-thought out personal slams at State Senator Wendy Davis (R-TX) after her remarkable, widely-admired, one-woman 11-hour filibuster probably didn't help him with women, either. For what it's worth, I say "probably" because I'm trying to be polite.
The added problem for Perry, though, is getting the nomination, because for all the aforementioned positives he has, he's also placed big hurdles ahead of him. And mainly, first above all is his ill-thought out and abortive presidential run in 2012, when he created a public personna of a klaboon. First of all, it look him a long time to "decide" to get into the race, so he joined the party really late, which rarely looks good. Then, he ran a stumbling, bumbling campaign, which looks worse. After that, he created his own "gotcha" moment by bringing up in a debate three cabinet posts he'd cut -- and only being able to remembering two of them. (Today's contest: how many times do you think that video clip will be played, once he announces he's running?) And finally, he did so poorly that he was one of the first Republican candidates to drop out. Last to jump in, early to drop out is not a good campaign slogan.
An additional problem for Perry, though a problem for any candidate of either party, is that I suspect a lot of high-profile people will be running, since there's no incumbent, so the competition will be wide and deep.
And of course, there's still that little problem with the hunting club he owned with the problematic name, the untypable, "Ni**erHead."
People can change their image, if not as easily as they can change the name of their hunting club. Even Richard Nixon did it, going from "Tricky Dick" to "The New Nixon" and winning the presidency. The big differences there is that, even though Nixon had far bigger personal hurdles to get over, he had eight years to whitewash his image. And further, when he did that, it was to make him seem kinder, more middle-of-the-road, and less demonic. The paint worked, though it wore off pretty quickly. Rick Perry, on the other hand, only has half that time to fix his 2012 campaign image as a pandering, empty clown. And the way he's gone about it is driving in reverse, as far away from the center as he can get.
"Any future considerations," he said on Monday, "I will announce in due time and I will arrive on that decision appropriately,"
Why would he start now?
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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