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Monday, October 3, 2011

The Myth of Rick Perry

“Howdy”. With this quintessential southern greeting on August 13 2011 at the RedState 2011 Gathering in Charleston South Carolina, Rick Perry erupted on the US national political stage.

The Perry presidential announcement usurped attention from the Iowa Straw Poll.

Rick Perry stole Michele Bachmann’s thunder. Mitt Romney’s front-runner position was instantly diminished.

Rick Perry was the man of the moment. He had the big stage, an adoring base and a messianic halo over his head.

Then came a torrent of pretty dramatic pronouncements from Gov. Perry. Within a week of announcing he criticized the Federal Reserve, suggesting it was treasonous and that the people of Texas would treat Ben Bernanke “pretty ugly”.

Rick Perry called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” in his 2010 book, “Fed Up.” He repeated this claim at the CNN/Tea Party Republican presidential debate, adding that the program was a monstrous lie. Perry makes a broader point, arguing that the social safety net was fundamentally an unconstitutional expansion of big government, which Americans have been “forced to accept.”

Clinton described him as good-looking rascal. Obama was more gracious, calling for Perry to choose his words more carefully.

Rick Perry’s recent goofy and incredibly tongue-tied performance in the GOP presidential debates has cast a long dark shadow on his capacity and political staying power. And Herman Cain winning the Florida GOP straw poll is fueling speculation about Perry’s ability to withstand the rough and tumble of a long political campaign. According to Obama, Perry must realize that this isn’t like running for governor or senator or for congress.

Perry has taken sustained hits from GOP opponents, especially Michele Bachmann, have questioned Rick Perry's 2007 decision to issue an executive order mandating HPV vaccines for schoolgirls, arguing that the policy amounted to a "government injection".

Moreover, moderate Republicans worry that his Perry’s professed doubts about global warming and evolutionary theory will make him a tough sell among independent voters.

This Perry situation reminds me of one of the most fascinating Greek Myths is that of Daedalus and Icarus, his young son.

Daedalus managed to create gigantic wings, using branches of osier and connected them with wax. He taught Icarus how to fly, but told him to keep away from the sun because the heat would make the wax melt, destroying the wings.

Icarus soon saw his wings melting.

Icarus fell into the sea and drowned. The Icarian Sea, where he fell, was named after him and there is also a nearby small island called Icaria.

I am not suggesting that the Perry presidential campaign will crash. But it could really struggle in the days to come given the precipitous decline of his stature.

In the assessment of the GOP field of candidates The Economist used a soccer analogy. It is a penalty kick and POTUS is standing at one corner of the goalmouth, his leg shackled to a heavy anvil, the economy. Republican presidential candidates line up to shoot the ball. One by one they trip up and fall before they kick the ball.

In the words of The Economist the Rick Perry is the "latest figure spread-eagled haplessly on the field".

It is becoming clear that the GOP donors are getting nervous about the field of candidates that have come forth. The donors are exerting pressure on Governor Chris Christies of New Jersey to enter the race. The growing belief that somehow Chris Christie may be the GOP savior represents a sapping of confidence that Perry can beat Obama in 2012.

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