Heroes, Until They’ve Arrived

It’s the undeclared candidates who always look best. Just consider the current Republican presidential primary contest.

Comments: 125

  1. Almost all presidential candidates are flawed. The very idea of a person thinking he is best qualified to be the leader of the free world is embarrassing. Most presidential candidates come up though politics, and in today's political scene, the primary qualification is an ability to wrench cash from rich people.

    All of the presidential candidates have track records, and Rick Perry's is one of the worst. As a Los Angeles Times analysis revealed, Perry raised campaign cash by making, and keeping, promises to his rich backers, nearly half of whom substantially benefited from their gifts/legal bribes to Perry.

    Still, Perry is just a worst-case example of politics as usual. A friend wrote to me that she had given up on even her liberal congressman, whose spouse is a lobbyist for millionaires. One way our underpaid Congressmen make ends meet is to shop their spouses in Lobbyland. So Joe Lieberman puts his wife to work as a health care/pharmaceuticals lobbyist, then he puts the kibosh on liberal healthcare legislation. Barney Frank gets his young partner a great job at Fannie Mae, and during Congressional hearings Frank belittles government officials who warned that Fannie Mae was overleveraged. Bottom line: with a few exceptions, they're all dishonest. Just as banker used to be a prestigious job but isn't anymore, so Senator & Congressman used to be prestigious but are now among the more reviled positions in society. They may have "Honorable" in front of their names, but it's now a satirical title.

    Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did a lot to desecrate even the office of the presidency, and Barack Obama's detractors are trying to finish off any lingering respect for the presidency by demeaning him as illegitimate and unfit for office.

    Politics is a mean business and politicians running for the highest office tend to be among the meanest. Rick Perry is an exemplar, not an anomaly.

    The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com

  2. Another Perry lie, along with the same on from Ron Paul, the Fed prints money.

    It shows abject ignorance of the Fed and what it actually does. For one thing, only the U.S. Treasury prints money. The Fed buys from the treasury and loans to the banks to keep them liquid. In the recent economic crisis of the Fed had not been there to keep liquidity in the system, the whole economic system would have collapsed.

    The primary reason Lehman Brothers had to go into bankruptcy is because the Fed did not have the authority to loan to the investment banks. Once the Bush administration saw the damage that caused, they immediately worked to change the rules.

    The attacks by the conservatives on the Fed are meant to appeal to the ignorant and uninformed. If these republicans are allowed to continue, we will end up with a second coming of Herbert Hoover, or possibly another James Buchanan.

  3. Presidential candidates have given their highest priority to messaging rather than governing. Governing is abadoned for balancing special interests and raising funds through super PACs, and maintaining plausible deniablity about the blatant, obvious choices that blame everyone but themselves for the shadow America is becoming of itself.

    But nobody embodies this mutant breed of politicians more authentically than the fake Rick Perry. From political appointments, to raising workers wages and benefits, to keeping his state's growing population employed, to his budget's spending on education, health care, and children's health, to the nation's highest execution rate, Perry presides over a draconian fairyland, where dreams are diminished and dimed.

    Imagine him negotiating with Germany or Turkey, visiting Afghanistan or China, being briefed on the issues that shape global warfare and welfare, that expand opportunities for American investment, or bring trade home to America, selling products and creating jobs. As they say in Texas: that dog don't hunt.

    Where is his foreign policy, his positions on humanitarian aid, his examples of innovation and technical assistance for industries on his watch? He is an egregious example of backroom politics, the tough guy who is clueless about a milieu outside of oil, pay offs, and retail politics.

    But be careful: he and the collective others have adopted a single message: label the President as "failed." Never explain or tell how or why, never discuss policies, positions, or plans, never seriously address details or what's good or bad about the actual conditions on the ground. That single message also ignores any semblance of truth. And the new code words, "dark cloud," "dog food," offer a not so subtle appeal to race and ignorance. Perry's high art of politics is the lowest form of demagoguery.
    --Walter Rhett

  4. Governor Perry’s not-so-rhetorical threat to do bodily harm to Ben Bernanke may be seen by some as harmless banter, but it should be sending up all manner of flares to the electorate. Just such an off-hand remark made by Henry II, "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” was taken literally. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by four of the king’s men...then canonized 3 years later.

    In this political maelstrom, where doctors are murdered for tending to women’s reproductive health, it is not so farfetched that someone might take Mr. Perry at his word. Two years ago, I would not have believed that possible. Now, I’m not so sure; there are a lot of crazies out there and they’re not exactly hiding in the shadows.

    The current field of Republicans is top heavy with religious zealotry, and not enough for the principles of the Constitution. The Dominionists, those folks who, in their own inimitable way, are advocating for the Christian version of sharia, have latched onto Mr. Perry and Ms. Bachmann, and so far, the candidates seem to be perfectly comfortable with that. On the other hand, a very large part of the American population may not be as thrilled…especially those of us who are _not_ Christian in any way, shape, or denomination.

    I’m not a Republican and it’s highly unlikely I will ever be one. But if I was, I would be out there beating the bushes for a candidate who had, at the very least, a grasp of the Bill of Rights. That has got to be the litmus test, not some cockamamie anti-tax pledge written by some guy who clearly does not care about the welfare of the American people.


  5. I don't think the way we go about choosing the leader of the free world is exactly what the Founders had in mind when they drafted the Constitution. There has to be a better way than than the Ames Straw Poll, 5 months before the ridiculous Iowa Caucus, followed by the equally ludicrous New Hampshire Primary in the dead of winter, when the turnout will be decided on whether or not The Farmer's Almanac correctly predicted the weather forecast for that particular day in February. I can hardly wait until the 9 or 12 Republicans in Dixville Notch trudge through the snow to cast their vote.

  6. Perry is worried that people might think he is too much like Bush. To make sure people realize he is not just a Bush clone, he has decided to run as a Divider, Not a Uniter.

  7. I'm not a Republican, but I'll run if they need someone with common sense. And NO, I don't want to see Obamas' birth certificate. Maybe there should be a show entitled 'Americas Got Republicans' and all the contestants can entertain us with their antics.

  8. Contemplating the array of candidates for the Republican nomination is like visiting the zoo. It's hard to believe that any of them could possibly be elected President of the US, but then again we live in strange times. Republican Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower wouldn't have a chance of nomination today, in fact it's doubtful if even Nixon or Reagan could make the cut. They would all be considered too "liberal" by today's Republican standards.

    President Obama has not been a particularly impressive executive and has almost become a Republican himself, but he has positioned himself to capture the independent vote and perhaps some older school Republicans who can't abide the extremism of the current crop. And I'm sure that he and his campaign staff expect that even disgruntled Democratic progressives will vote for him to prevent an extremist from reaching the White House. As a progressive myself, though, I would welcome a primary challenge to Obama from the left by a candidate who would actually fight for a progressive agenda.

  9. "My mother taught never to say ugly things about ugly people," he told voters. "I am not going to reduce a campaign for an important office down to a mud-slinging contest." So said Lyndon Johnson campaigning in 1946 against Hardy Hollers for a seat in the House for the then 10th District in Texas.


    One can go far to understanding modern Republican politics by studying not just the Republican tactics in Texas, but the tactics of Democrats trying to save their coalitions and retain power. That Rick Perry is cast from the mold of that history isn't surprising to those who familiarize themselves with the history of his state. But that the strategies and tactics of that time have changed so little since then may be. His fellow Republican candidates, and his many wealthy, powerful benefactors, are well heeled examples of those times.

    What we know of the current candidates for the White House is very little except that not one of them has offered a viable, detailed plan. The Ryan plan on which they pinned their hopes was dismissed by the knowledgeable and nothing is offered to replace it. But of Barack we know that while seriously compromising in his tenure in office he hasn't surrendered the middle class nor the nation's safety nets to those who control the Republican party. A headline from Johnson's campaign era stands as a warning to all considering the Republican candidates: "False In One Thing - False In All."

    The Chinese general Sun Tzu offers two lessons to our President while he studies his opponents: ""Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win..." and "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." One can only hope Barack falls asleep with a copy of "The Art of War" and accounts of Lyndon Johnson's political battles on his nightstand. A commander in chief by necessity should be well read in in the history of battle.

  10. It surprises me that the political discourse has devolved instead of evolved. Thirty years ago no one would have called social security a ponzi scheme after Wall Street took great gains on worthless CDOs. Perry is a symptom but not the problem.

  11. Republicans have made a virtue of living in a bizarre world where logic and reason do not apply. Perry seems to be too full of contradictions to fly, but so did Bachmann, and she, if no one else, is taking herself very seriously. It is only the news media's self-defeating insistence on soft pedaling any truly probing questions that allows her to redefine "subservient" to mean "respectful" on national TV, and to get away with it. Perry will do the same, obfuscating and blithering his way through interviews, swinging wildly from folksy charm to disturbing threats of righteous retribution against government officials. The nightly news will eat it up.

    If these candidates embarrass Republicans, they have only themselves to blame. They spawned the Tea Party, happy to benefit from their ability to energize a pool of angry, resentful voters, and fill the House with uncompromising ideologues who care about the future the way a Kamikaze pilot might. They thought they could keep them on a leash, but now they don't know who's walking whom. Many of the Republican candidates for president are in this mold, making outrageous statements, loathsome threats, and signing pledges guaranteeing never to think for themselves.

    There are consequences to sacrificing the democratic process on an altar of political expediency. As wounded as Mr. Obama appears to be, he is not ignorant or foolish. If independent voters are turned off by his concessions to the Tea Party, it's unlikely that they will respond by voting for a Tea Party candidate to replace him. The Republicans will likely lose the election, with the added bonus that they have made themselves look incapable of governing. They cartoon candidates comprising the Republican field are no more than they deserve.

  12. Your column, "Heroes Until They've Arrived", is brilliant. Thank you, Frank Bruni, for saying some Tea Party candidates will be "election arsenic" next year. All of the declared Republican candidates are election arsenic. The Hoi Polloi will be unable to see through them. Alas, Red Staters and Republican couch potatoes, good ol' boys, will be crazy about Perry, the Texas bloviator, who has fairly imploded with his egregious statements in the couple of days since he declared his candidacy. He's the Bull in the Tea Party china shop. Bachmann an enthusiastic chick from Waterloo Iowa and Minnesota who doesn't know diddly about American history, Newt, toast. Romney, cautious about his hair and stepping on his fellow wannabe candidates' toes, Ron Paul an elderly maverick (where have we heard that word since 2007?), Pawlenty, Santorum, Huntsman, also-ran cyphers, empty suits. Cain, the pizza guy.

    As for the undeclared candidates for POTUS - mentioned by oracles, entrail-readers, houngans, and other pundits from the Extreme Right, Giuliani, Rubio, Ryan, Palin and the other bananas who might or might not run don't have a snowball's chance. Fuggedabout Chris Christie - not ready for prime-time. Trump, risible poutster. The Republicans/Tea Party are racking up far too many mediocre cooks - and they've already concocted an Olla Podrida to be swallowed by the American electorate. How gobsmacking that the Democrats have ONE candidate, our great President Barack Obama, who will achieve the audacious potential he has shown us since 2004, who inherited all the vomitrocious sludge the Republicans slung at the United States in the 2 terms of GW Bush - 2 bloody wars, gynormous debt, recession, unemployment, more issues than FDR faced in the early 1930s. One candidate, our President, against that phalanx of clowns who ran in the straw poll and the Fox Debate in Iowa! There is one Republican who could win in 2012, but he is election arsenic, too. Because his last name is Bush.

  13. We should all understand what Perry was preaching when he talked about rough justice for the Fed. Chairman. He was trying to send a message that the Fed had dare not take action to return the nation to prosperity by the 2012 presidential elections. Ain't that grand? Perry knows that the economy and unemployment are the strongest indicators of whether the president can be reelected next time, so he was warning that no special measures should be taken.

    This is something really new in American politics (I find myself writing words to that affect every few days now). Candidates and presidents have said things designed to encourage economic expansion before elections (and we don't know what is said behind closed doors), but this is a radical departure. It is almost as bad as saying a president had better not bring troops home before the election because then we'd know his motive. Astounding.

    What we all should understand about Texas (and thus Perry) is that it is, indeed, a world unto itself. Before the jet aircraft went into service in the early 1960s, Texas, in some ways, was as isolated as it had been fifty or a hundred years previous. Perry comes from the small town tradition that holds that Texans know what is needed, up and down the line, and we aren't going to be broaching any disagreement. We know. So, his confidence in saying whatever the hell he pleases is well practiced and finds receptive ears all across the state.

    Texas is an urban state that still wants to be rural one and insists on trying, against the odds. This is an intrastate conflict that had best be worked out there, not transferred to the national level where the complications and difficulties of managing a complex national enterprise were resolved many decades ago.

    Perry, and the Texas right, live in their own self confirming bubble where never is heard a discouraging word. Delusional or not, the mindset ensures conflict with accepted notions everywhere else.


  14. The Grand Old Party has been transformed into the Grand Guignol Party -- a gruesome collection of ideologues, religious fanatics, libertarians, Fox News talking heads and corporate-controlled puppets in the the vein of the soon-to-be-recalled Governor Scott Walker.

    At this rate, Karl Rove might as well run for president himself. Maybe Dick Cheney is available, mechanical heart pump and all. Cheney's book is due out in a week or two, and what a perfect way to shill it by joining the ranks of the temporary candidates. Donald Trump did it. Sarah Palin is half-doing it, the same way she made truncated governorships the new normal. (Scott Walker again).

    Obama isn't even worried about running against a Republican. His campaign strategy thus far is to run against Congress. He says don't ask what your country can do for you, but how you can help him win by calling Congress and kvetching. Obama will really be running against his own shadow of a self anyway. Or maybe it's against fear itself.

    Whatever. They call it the silly season for good reason. With everybody's approval ratings in the tank, and deservedly so, now might be a good time to kick them all out and start from scratch. Maybe we the people can sneak through a constitutional amendment banning money from campaigns in our own individual states while the phony politicians are busy posing in front of barns, spreading manure.


  15. "Huntsman may bounce back."

    Jon Huntsman is the favorite Republican candidate of those who hate Republicans.

  16. Of course, you're a Democrat writing in a Democratic newspaper so this column sounds very smug. Look at your own candidate, the present president, known best in his legislative career as voting "present" and whose previous administrative experience was nil, zilch, zip, nada; but he got elected.
    It's a standard military axiom--don't underestimate the enemy. Both Hitler and Napoleon made the same mistake about Russia. Re-write this column in a year with whoever it is leading the Republicans, odds are he'll be doing well enough in the polls to meet and beat his Democratic challenger and hopefully that challenger won't be the current man in the White House.

  17. Bitter experience shows that each Republican president is worse than the one before; Watergate aside, Nixon looks quite good now (even compared with some Democrats - if he were in Congress today, the GOP wouldn't have him and the Dems would keep him at arm's length as being too far left).

  18. The Republican primary voters seem to be going for good looking people with good hair. Tim Pawlenty's campaign of course was dead on arrival.

    So far it is a hair contest between Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney. Romney also has brains, which might not be seen as a good thing in conservative circles. To much thinking can make people unreliable. It can even turn them into RINOs, who are worse than Democrats.

    Part of the problem is that apart from political journalists and the kind of people who comment on New York Time columns, nobody is paying much attention to nomination race. Why should they, when the first voting is still 6 months away?

  19. Polls steadily show "Generic Republican" beating Barack Obama in 2012. But when you substitute a real candidate's name, the result is reversed.

    Whatever you think of Obama, he is a rational, 21st century human being.
    He is not a religious fanatic who thinks the Founding Fathers' idea of a wall between church and state is something to tear down, a man who thinks homosexuality is a disease or that the Earth started 6,000 years ago. That in a nutshell (and I do mean nutshell) is the Republican field, plus Mitt Romney, who is pro-choice, oops pro-life, against his own health care plan and thinks that corporations are people.

    Unless America has lost its collective mind, Barack Obama will be relected in 2012. Perhaps by then he will have grown a backbone and will stand up to these charlatans.


  20. If I'd tried writing a science fiction novel - or perhaps I should say a horror novel - I couldn't have come up with anyone more bizarre or horrifying than the Republicans' current crop of presidential candidates. I'm just waiting for Sarah Palin to throw her hat into the ring and then we can watch the fur fly (bad pun, given her proclivity for hunting). My fantasy is that Bachmann and Palin will run as a team, because only then could we be assured of an Obama victory (yes, I think things are that bad at this point)….

  21. Reading Perry's comments about national economics and the Fed, it was obvious he knew at least as much as Michelle Bachmann about economics and he was assuming his potential voters shared his level of knowledge.

    Then there was the intentional threat about Texans being ugly in how they'd treat Dr. Bernanke. Yes, indeed. Here we go again, back to the coded lynching language.

    Before that flood of problem solving, Perry had blown a kiss at Romney to be dismissive.

    Ah, the glorious days of Karl Rove. Don't debate anyone. Be the one with the most entertaining, snappy, memorable put-down. Another Republican trademark problem-solving technique.

    "Crashing the Tea Party," by Campbell and Putnam, in the Aug 16, NY Times, laid out a wide range of facts about the Tea Party. More importantly, their research pointed out that Americans are looking for people offering solutions that contain plausible details and are based on substantiated facts.

    Republicans deserve Rick Perry. He's the result of the rubbish Republicans have been foisting on this nation since 1980. All their lies, deceit, and simplistic, gunslinger propaganda, and jingoism has created two generations that vote that way.

    If the late President Eisenhower, a Republican, were to return and offer to help the Republicans, he'd likely be rejected by the current crop of Republicans. This, despite the fact that Ike also had to contend with a high percentage of debt to GDP but still led this nation with policies, both inherited and some of which he originated, that provided prosperity. We had a high tax rate and strong unions.

    This is going to be a very long story. I'm less worried about the characters staring in the Republican roles than I am about whether the Democrats of all stripes are going to show up with fervor, determination, enthusiasm, and massive numbers. It doesn't make any difference how ludicrous the Republican candidate. If Republicans show up in larger numbers, they win; democratic ideals lose.

  22. You, Douthat and Krugman. All this analysis about Perry, Christie and others. I can hardly wait for Gail to get back from her book tour -- Maureen needs a break from being the only one who deals with these guys with the appropriate humor. I actually think you should add Barrack Obama to the list, as he often finds himself to the right of the center-line rather than the left, and has alienated just about every liberal on both coasts.

    Republicans, like all Americans, like a large contender list. Just look at our network talent shows (you look at them, I can't stomach them). But soon enough the contenders get whittled down when some celebrity judge with absolutely no special insight into the matter (as apt a description of the American voter as I can come up with) points thumbs-down.

    Not Perry or Christie; not Bachmann or Palin; not the Newtster or Ron Paul; and certainly not Rudy. They'll all fall, and the one most likely to win the general election will come out on top: Mitt Romney. That's what we Republicans do, scare the spit out of the straight people in the country with our candidates, then nominate someone highly credible. Last time 'round that was John McCain, whom the whole country knows would be our president today if the economy had not plunged off the edge of the world where monsters dwell just as people were getting in their cars to vote in the 2008 General.

    Mayonnaise Mitt. Mayonnaise Barrack. Wouldn't bet on that toss-up this early for the lowest vig in Vegas. But that will be the choice.

  23. Rick Perry is out campaigning: that's his mission these days. What in the world is Obama doing out campaigning after he has driven this country to its knees?

    Obama is quickly becoming a joke. He has sold out the Democratic Party, particularly we liberals. Flood victims in Iowa still haven't received federal relief aid and Obama is ignoring the disaster and pretending it never happened. In the meantime, Obama's driving around their neighborhoods in his carbon-belching Canadian-made monster bus telling them why they should re-elect him.

    This President is shameless.

  24. Forget the Republicans. To me, nobody is looking better than an undeclared Democrat or Green Party presidential candidate these days.

    Mr. Obama has failed us all.

  25. Am I the only one who finds the references to asthma and minority status here offensive? This sounds more like tea party rhetoric than anything i'd expect from an intelligent critique of republican candidates. No use hiding behind the quasi-praeteritio of-- "i'm not saying it's relevant in itself, but the fact that Others will misuse this..." yuch.

  26. Perry's star is fading already. It hasn't even taken as long as I thought it might.

    But really, his record of (non)achievement has been hiding in plain sight. Molly Ivins was on to him from the beginning and she died several years ago. How, for even a minute, is anyone, even dyed-in-the wool Republicans, supposed to take seriously a governor who openly, if only rhetorically, flirted with the idea of secession? We fought a terrible war over that 150 years ago.

    Texas is a 3rd worldish kind of state - a great university but poor public schools; fabulous medical facilities but a high proportion of the population without health insurance or any access to health care, an even more skewed distribution of income than the country at large (3rd worldish enough itself) etc etc.

    Perry's comment about Ben Bernanke revealed a recklessly violent way of talking (which can lead to even crazier people taking matters into their own hands) as well as a deep ignorance about the economy.

    Not only is the Republican party in deep doo doo because they've become so extreme, the country is in deep doo doo because while the Republicans can completely gum up the political works Obama and the Democrats haven't figured out how to put them on the defensive. At the moment we're at an impasse. Something will give sooner or later.

  27. God, guns and greed,(whats in it for ME)
    Is the theme of those who're running
    And a belief in Plutocracy
    With a willingness to go gunning
    For anything or anyone
    That dares to get in the way
    Put a fork in us..we're done
    Bye bye U.S.A.

  28. As the Tea Party harkens for days of yesteryear, dragging the GOP backward in time, conservatives must feel their candidates have regressed back to the days of 1934, to The Original Amateur Hour; the fast paced half hour themed, "Round and round she goes, and where she stops nobody knows" - vaudevillian variety entertainment.

    With more than a dozen Republican presidential candidates declared to date, unsatisfied GOP pundits and a conservative electorate want more. Each candidate more and more outrageous. It’s a strange and curious thing to watch - Tea Party Madness. Burning brighter as each new candidate enters the race, the light burns twice as fast and just like that, on to the next candidate. Moderate Conservatives must be losing their mind.

    The seventh chapter of  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is  titled "A Mad Tea-Party".

  29. The deeply disturbing similarities to George W. Bush aside, Rick Perry has also got that Ronald Reagan thing happening, have you noticed that? Good hair, telegenic, sunny disposition, smooth talker - and dumber than an empty box of Rice Crispies. Ronnie with a Texas twang. The perfect candidate in this era of soundbites and snake oil. Just when you thought that the 2012 clown parade could not possibly get any stupider, enter Rick Perry, stage right - extreme right.

    Life is beautiful.

    In the mean time, count on the GOP to remain "in the wilderness" for a very long time - maybe forever. When they stupidly embraced the so-called "Tea party" two years ago, they were effectively kissing the viper. It that disgusting, train-wreck of a party is ever able to seize ANY of the three branches of our government again, the American people will deserve everything that happens to them. Get used to living in a country in ruins.


    Tom Degan

  30. In the end, the GOP is still looking for a sacrificial lamb to take one for the team, another Bob Dole. The extremists such as Perry and Bachmann allow them to shoot off outrageous and distorted claims and to make promises and accusations with impunity. Already they are being exposed as all hat and no cattle, as liars and cheats, as political impersonators with no substance. Even Bob Dole would be appalled.

  31. After just a few days in the Republican Presidential race, Rick Perry is as big and brash as the state he governs. Before he formally announced, our polling had placed the four-term Texas Governor at the head of the GOP pack, and I suspect his outspoken start as an official candidate sounded very good to the party base.

    However, Perry’s bravado may not play as well with the entire electorate; and his record is very susceptible to attack from the other Republicans who want to oppose Barack Obama, and from Obama himself.

    Until recently, inside the media echo chamber Mitt Romney had been the favorite for the Republican nomination. Republicans usually pick the guy next in line, a spot Romney seems to have earned by placing second to John McCain in 2008 and by raising more money than any other GOP candidate. However, Romney hasn’t been the top choice of Republican primary voters in any of our polls since we began asking in November of last year.

    GOP voters have been looking for someone else. First it was non-candidate Chris Christie. Then, Herman Cain was impressive in the first debate and took the lead. In a subsequent debate, Michele Bachmann sounded like a serious candidate, and became the new frontrunner. More recently, we included Perry and he popped to the top. Now that he has announced, talking heads are ranking him with Romney, a position I would not dispute.
    I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA

  32. Rick Perry reminds me of a kid swearing for the first time in public. Taking note of his entourage's positive reaction to his outrageous words, Rick Perry will continue to swear in public because it pleases the crowd who believe President Obama was fraudulently elected, deserves to fail, is weak, doesn't lead and so on. In addition, all other GOP candidates are scared of his rethoric and see him as a "fine guy with an excellent track record". They wouldn't dare saying anything casting a shadow on Rick Perry because they fear his retribution so early in their campain, President Obama is a much easier target to them at this point. I understand why Rick Perry targetted Ben Barnanke instead of Standard and Poors (SP), labelling who is the treator and perpetrator for the financial mess the country finds itself in. The actions of SP before the last financial crisis that sent so many Americans out of work are being investigated and SP should have been Perry's target. However, Perry's talking points are too simplistic to include an indepth analysis of SP's sleeping at the weel or looking the other way for their self-interest.

    The actual Commander in Chief is respected by the men and women in uniform but, Rick Perry swears he'd be loved more because he served in the armed forces. Senator John McCain used a similar talking point against President Obama during his campain for the presidency. However it seems Americans elected a President who demonstrated he was also knowledgeable about foreign policy, economics, trade and social issues. The idea that Rick Perry "will bring the fight" to President Obama is ludicrous for he's already shot himself in the foot repeatedly and will continue to do so because his supporters are laughing with him and appreciate his loose-canon attitude. I'm sure the people at the White House relish Perry's outrageous comments and think like Napoleon who once said, "...never tell your enemy when he's making a mistake".

  33. Of course it is too early to talk about 2012. But here we are doing just that. Meanwhile, the issues of 2011 keep rolling over us. Obama is going to announce a wholly inadequate jobs program -- when? Oh, September. You don't roll out new product in August, as we learned when the invasion of Iraq was marketed. And drought in the Southwest can also be ignored. It's got to rain sometime! The drought can't have anything to do with a changing climate.
    The Republican candidates are a scary lot. Perry perhaps the most frightening because of his obvious preference for theocracy. Don't forget -- the current SCOTUS might go along with that. And Perry is scary because Obama grows weaker, less articulate, less capable before our very eyes. He will only be more vulnerable as time goes on. But then, G W Bush had no business winning the election of 2004. Only Kerry's remarkable inept campaign gave us another four ruinous years. As posters note, our political system has deteriorated. That is partly because, as with a 24 hour news cycle, running for office is a constant activity. Governing while in office seems to be an idea whose time has gone by.

  34. The large field of Republican hopefuls, entered or thinking about it, is a reflection NOT of weakness in the party but of weakness of the opponent, President Obama. Were he viewed as invincible, as in 2008, he likely would draw little competition, as in 2008. John McCain was the choice of Democrats just as Obama was the choice of Republicans. Both were wrong in their strategies when if fact what one wished for came true! Any of the dozen or so Republicans now considering the job can very likely get it because of the weakness and ineptitude of the opponent. If things were different, the Republicans would be putting forth a fringe candidate whose "time has come" or someone like Bob Dole or John McCain to whom the honor should be given. That this is not even being considered today tells us something important about the coming changes.

  35. Among Perry's remarks let's not forget his announcement that he does not accept climate change and that every day new scientists come forward to dispute its claims -- all this while Texas burns.

    I expect he also does not cotton to evolution and its claims, given all the scientists that debunk that, too.

    Worst of all, if the Republican clown parade were asked in a "debate" to raise hands to support this backwardness, they all would.

    They would all turn out to be "C" students who starred in cheer-leading.

    I guess that makes me an elitist.

  36. Perry made secession threat. When one threatens to secede, one denounces the country. One cannot then turn around to run for the presidency of a country one denounces. That is shamelessness to the umpteenth level.

  37. Michele and Rich may frighten many republicans and most democrats, but they should frighten everyone with their on their knees process for solving every issue. It isn't real, never will be real and is no excuse for stupid, unchecked and spoiled. Lots of growing up should be prescribed for this pair.

  38. We tend to forget that candidate Obama rose to prominence through the agency of carefully controlled personal appearances and savvy use of the Internet. I might rely on the trad print/digital press to suss out some of these Republican hopefuls, but I'm certain that isn't the norm. Most people rely on information they get from informal networks of friends, family and colleagues. As a result, they're never even exposed to some of the craziest talk, let alone get exposed to critiques of the candidates' favorite "ideas." The rise of Palin illustrates this. People get the glib "you betcha" stuff and very little of the economic illiteracy.

  39. Why does no one mention Ron Paul? He came in second at the straw poll, yet he has been ignored by the media, it seems on purpose. I am not a fan, but find it curious that his views would not get equal play, considering his standing in the straw poll. He was only 152 votes behind Bachman. What is with this? Yes, the other candidates are scary, but without decent fair coverage and truthful covereage, Americans will not be able to make reasonable choices. Please talk about things fairly. What is in it for media to not cover him?

  40. The most frustrating thing to the Republicans is to admit they have nothing: no ideas, and no leaders of any heft or charisma. I believe in most polls "anonymous Republican" is the only one who gives Obama any competition.

  41. If we had a Democratic candidate who wasn't a colossal fraud and a lame wimp, we wouldn't need to care about who the Republican candidate will be.

  42. You did not mention that Perry disbanded a commission that was investigating the possibility that the State of Texas executed an innocent man.

    The case dealt with an individual who was tried and convicted of setting a fire that killed his children. The most damaging testimony was from a fire investigator whose methods were based on anecdotal experience, not by current scientific methods. His methods and conclusions have been questioned if not repudiated by scientifically and forensically trained investigators and investigative methods.

    Shortly before gubernatorial primary, just as the commission was set to issue its report, Perry dismissed several of the members of the commission. Perry then proceeded to appoint new members, who have appeared to be more inclined to sweep the investigation and its conclusions under the rug.

    To date, neither report nor results have been issued. This case and the disbanding of the commission, has been documented and reported by both state and local news agencies. Perry, understandably, says little about it.

    Not a proud legacy for Texas or for Perry.

  43. The tone of this opinion is that, as we see Rick Perry up close, that he might falter. And yes he might, but he might not. The notion that the Republican primary voter might willingly foist upon America another Texas governor as candidate for president suggests almost all we need to know about the primary system, and the Republican party.

    We congratulate ourselves in the durability of our democracy but its durability hides the fact that it does not serve the people, it only grants them the illusion that their voice is heard. For example, a majority of people seem to favor government run health care, yet it was easy for small state congressmen to stall health care reform. Similarly, a majority (or at least plurality) favor higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for spending, yet this is a no-go in the current congress.

    Our system was meant to prevent power from accumulating, and it does this well. But as much as demogogues are stopped, so are the people.

  44. The sad thing about the republican party is that their concern with these extremist candidates is not with their extremism but their electability.
    I first thought Jon Huntsman may be a sane candidate that I could support, until I received a fund raising letter from him espousing the same extremism of Ms. Bachman.
    Wake up republican party, it's not a new candidate you need it's new policies that encompass logical solutions and not just bumper stickers like I want my country back.

  45. All of this day-to-day analysis of the nutty GOP "candidates" currently out there is nothing but a sideshow before the circus. Let them have their say, as their days are dwindling from putting their feet in their mouths so often. As long as the press and people keep pointing out the nonsensical comments they make each day, these candidates don't stand a chance.

    It is sad we have to come this, and we should probably be questioning why and how we've reached this point in our national debates. The low level of understanding on how our system works being exhibited, and the gullibility of the populace to believe these early front runners, is nothing short of astounding.

  46. If we want better candidates, we need to tax the rich. We must tax the rich and the corporations so that they cannot dominate politics with their ability to buy candidates right out of the starting gate. Ron Paul is a great example. He's a genuine libertarian. He virtually tied for first place in the Iowa straw poll. And, as John Stewart has pointed out, he's been ignored by the press like he didn't exist. The big bucks don't like Paul. He's anti-war for doG's sake! Where is the money in that? He's against the Federal Reserve. How would banks be able to borrow at 0% and lend at 25%? He is probably insane, but that isn't a liability in the GOP primaries. Serious ties to reality are not necessary. Just money and the blessings of GE, NewsCorps, Viacom, Verizon, and API [look it up].
    If Jesus ran for president he would have to sleep in a barn. It may be too late. USA™ may be the last stage of the experiment in democracy and capitalism. Guess which system won?

  47. Very nice, Frank, very nice.

    We think the GOP rightists will fail at the Tampa convention, and someone will be drafted - someone who will not have been part of the sliming leading up to the election, and will be presented as a pristine alternative to an embattled, Faux Noise Machina-slimed B.O.

    We are concerned about what Perry's home-town folks say of him as Jason Cherkis chronicled in the Huffington Post:


    and are glad to see a scout master who handed a guy his Eagle won't be voting for the guy.

    But what is really of concern is the cronyism which takes place when government-hating rightists take power, as Rachel Maddow discussed Monday or Tuesday night regarding the $100 million Perry has raised for his campaigns, $37 million of which has come from 150 people/corps. and about 75 of those winding up on the receiving end of state contracts, and/or state appointments.

    When these things happen, the appointees, almost 6,000 in Perry's case, linger long after a particular governor or POTUS is gone, which is one of the reasons we see so little action in the U.S. Senate regarding B.O.'s appointees.

    What we all have to keep in mind when trying to talk sense to the radical rightists, though, is that even Ayn Rand was hypocritical enough to take Social Security and medicare.

    What makes you a radical rightist is when Ayn Rand is on your left.

  48. The tv pundits need to step up to the plate and refuse to allow the republican hogwash to be maintained without a strong push-back by asking tough questions and refusing to be manipulated by the candidates' talking points. They need to work to defeat Truthiness and get to the Truth. Will they? Most likely not as they are all bought and paid for by the likes of a few wealthy people who have their own agenda for America.

    But it's imperative. Stand up, pundits!! Do what's right.

  49. Mr. T's famous line is, "I pity the fool." I pity this whole nation of fools if the choice in 2012 emerges as a contest between "Dumb and Dumber." Obama is a sellout. He played me once and I'm not fool enough to vote for him twice. I imagine I'm in good company with a lot of other independents, what to speak of liberals. I would really love to get my money back from his 2008 campaign as it was clearly a fraudulent case of "bait-and-switch." Won't happen, of course, but he won't get a thin dime out of me for this next go-around. Never mind how shameless it seems to be that he should be out campaigning so early in the process. Isn't he supposed to be the President and in Washington doing things? The Republicans may start early enough, but Obama's not doing himself any favors.

    Not that the Republicans, with their massive tilt to the right look like any good bargain either. But who knows, since Obama's been the best Republican president the Democrats ever elected, we might as well go the distance to the radical fringe. I've long held the theory that political ideology is not a straight line from "left-to-tight" or "liberal-to-conservative," but is rather a circle, with a moderate democratic ideal at the top, bending down in a rightward-and-leftward direction until the two meet at the bottom. Go far enough in one direction in this circle, and you come out on the other side. In other words, some might advocate policies that are SO conservative that they end up throwing off "liberal" side effects. Or vice versa.

    I still pity this nation of fools, though, no matter what the outcome. Oh, Canada....

  50. Perry is so laughably out of place, that I feel sorry for him. If it were only the 1980's again, maybe he could at least bask in Reagan's afterglow. Alas, it's 2011 and Perry is a dinosaur even among the rest of the aged and crazy.

    We need a leader, but a modern one. Not people trying to relive their version of Reagan's or Clinton's old Hollywood script. Heck, how many Americans today can even remember Reagan's presidency?

  51. We stand in serious danger of talking points and talking heads becoming the de facto political debate. Facts? We don't need your stinking facts. just keep the sound bites coming for the 24/7 opinion cycle that rules our media and entertainment today. We would all be better off if sunspots took our TV satellites out of commission for a while. The "news" would have to be written instead of filmed, and the talking heads would have to find other jobs. We'd get better information, and candidates would have to talk sense, instead of skipping through a multitude of egregious statements to get airplay.

  52. The Republican party has become a complete joke, and Rick Perry simply confirms that. Take a close look at the Southern states, dominated by Republican conservative thinking and where they rank on education, health services, and average income across the country. These are "third world" states. If it weren't for the oil industry, Texas would be just another Mississippi, Alabama, or Arkansas.

  53. Rick Perry seems to be a cross between George W. (all hat and no cattle) Bush and the 2008 Savior of the Republican Party, Fred Thompson. But, does he really think that his overzealous religious bent and secessionist ways can actually win in the General Election Surely, Moderates and Independents will not be enticed by him.

  54. Oak Barrel Lament.

    The lack of depth on the GOP side is the result of a three decades of incompetent leadership which has dumbed down the caucus so that there is no bench. Even it seems among the governors.

    The GOP drinks its own whiskey and does not know that the soundtrack has begun to sound scratchy.

  55. This all reminds me of my high school student council elections. A bunch of half baked promises and lots of campaign posters on the school walls.

  56. Like monkeys in a cage at a zoo, you don't want to antagonize Republican presidential candidates. Since their only stated policy is to get rid of Obama and never tax anyone to pay off our nation's bills, at least we know what to expect from them when riled up.

  57. This is a great article. I do not need this published, I just wanted to say "Thanks". Keep them coming. I need to read something rationale when I have my first sip off coffee.

  58. any thoughtful, thinking, reasonable, qualified person, isn't going
    to come out of the closet and run for the pubs, for president, when
    the pubs are controlled by radical extremists, why would they? This
    is the reason Romney wont get the nomination, he is a liberal to
    the nutcases and a Mormon to boot, they wont let him be the nominee,
    he is to normal of a human being.

  59. Why has a "diploma" in ignorance and stupidity become the qualifying criteria for becoming a presidential candidate? The dumbing down of America seems to start from the top down, not as most would presume from the bottom up. America's "dumbing" is now on an epidemic scale.

  60. Not buying. The left is taking shots at each Republican as they enter the field, and stereotyping them as extremists, in the hope of pushing the Obama machine, wrecked by disasters foreign and domestic, across the finish line.

  61. Still, as Perry has thrown his hat in the ring, we have no viable Republican candidates who can reach into the 30% of Independent voters awaiting a viable solution.

    The cost of this lack of true leadership, those not vying for the highly restricted base of the current Republican party, is incalculable right now. I can Perry carrying the far fight base, and perhaps be the best the more moderate of Republicans can expect to have in the fight, but the Republicans have moved the entire party so far to the right, that they simply don't have anyone with name recognition that could carry the day in a national election.

    The only way even an extreme right winged President could do anything legislatively is if Americans continue to vote for extreme right wing policies and not only retain the House, but garner the Senate within the same election cycle. This generally doesn't happen.

    I may be stupid, but I believe that Americans across the board are going to be paying more attention to this particular election cycle, and perhaps leaning a bit more towards a Congress which is function, and not based on rhetoric, but the record for whom they would be voting.

    Are the Independents so turned off of President Obama that they'd want a government based on even more on the extreme right than George Bush had, or are they going to take a second look at just what was accomplished by the Obama administration in a period when the Republicans were totally absent from the discussion by choice?

    That's hard to tell. But if the Independents actually work for moving the congress to a middle position, all of America will benefit.

    The problem isn't the election cycle, its the lack of opportunity for the American people right now. Suicide is up in America right now, or didn't you know?

    Save lives, save America, ignore the crazies.

    Roger W. Norman

  62. Great column putting all the Republican candidates in perspective. The problem is none of them are on my wish list. As an Independent, I would dearly like to see a third party candidate with good common sense, a grasp on what the American people as a whole need whether they know it or not. I voted for President Obama because I wanted to. This time I will vote for him because I have to. Rick Perry is worse than George W. Bush and for me he is one of the worst candidates. I agree they are top heavy with religious beliefs. Spare me from any kind of religious zealot. I have seen enough of that in my lifetime. It would be nice to have the last years of my life free from that baloney.

  63. How many Republicans are in the race? I've lost count. The party must be in turmoil if they are talking about Christie and Rubio. The best thing Mitt and Jon can do is keep their mouths shut and let the others fall on their own. Happy belated birthday Elvis.

  64. Perry........'a less polished George W. Bush'. Is that possible?

  65. You say, "The accompanying photos were of Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan and ... Rudy Giuliani? Some Republicans never learn."

    You lost me when you sneered at Giuliani. New York before him and New York after him are totally different cities. New York before him was a city where you were afraid to take the subway or come home late at night.

    Did he accomplish the change? Is he the best candidate? Maybe, maybe not. But to sneer at him makes YOU look foolish.

  66. Hey Windsor! You do remember the choices in 2008???

  67. Perry is like W just worse.

  68. I grew up on a farm, and we have a phrase for guys like Gov. Perry:
    Big Hat, No Cattle.

  69. Bravo to the poster who used the metaphor of the kamikazi pilot to describe the way the Republican contenders worry about tomorrow.

  70. It turns out that Sarah Palin is running after all!

  71. You demonstrate that good reportage, not mere opinion, is the backbone of a memorable column. Thank you for nailing damning truths and facts to the deceitful bandwagons of the flim-flam men and women representing that Old Party that used to be Grand.

  72. Thanks for this article! The truth is that democracy - as we knew it - has come to and end.
    Politics in the Western world is as damned as any in the totalitarian world.
    We have lost our direction and what is going to decide our future is the common sense that young people still have.
    We - the descenders from the Second World War are lost in a fantasy that har not worked for the last fifty years.
    Let us kneel and ask for forgiveness!
    Not even Jesus could right the state that the US is in. Nor the state of my own native countrey, Sweden.
    Eva Sternberg
    Brain scientist and mother of three and grandmother of five

  73. Brilliant article. This the lucid America we from abroad like. People around the world are worried about the evolution US is taking with the emergency of desperadoes including Tea Party members (or «synced» with ones like Romney), or the «evangelical» ones like the Perrys or Bachmanns. Can you imaging those people at the world stage, dealing with the serious economic troubles or warfare at all levels?

  74. Whatever happened to right rising star, Bobby Jindal? Was his 2009 Republican response speech really the zenith of his political career? Its hard for me to believe that the questionable things he said in that speech could hold a candle to the nuttiness that Perry and Bachman and Santorum are spouting these days.

    Why not Olympia Snowe? Too moderate (i.e., not crazy enough)?

  75. It is not possible for the Republican Party to field an electable candidate as the Tea People have taking the reins of the vetting process. As a consequence , any candidate needs to be nuts , just like them, to curry favor. This is what happens when you don't have a plan in place for mob control.

  76. At least Jon Huntsman does not appear to be insane and maybe electable.

  77. If you're going to put a Texan in the White House, for God's sake, vote for Ron Paul!

    Come to think of it, Perry only makes sense when he's copying Ron Paul's positions. Too bad he doesn't have the understanding of why those are the right positions.

  78. In my opinion, Ricky will be the one. He is saying everything the Teas want in a candidate. he has the look. Who does he have to beat? Not much. Romney's Mormonism is a definite no no to this tea crowd. A book published today reported that the Tea Party is nothing more than a religious conservative right wing Republican, who has disdain for people of color and all religion except Christian. They believes that politic and religion go hand in hand, and never have believed in the separation. If the tea's are in control, and their is nothing to show otherwise, Romney is a dead duck.
    That leaves Bachman, and the Tea's may feel more comfortable with her than with Perry,but they are not on a suicide mission. That leaves Perry and Ron Paul. A good choice for the Republicans would be Paul. He has been spreading tea around for many years, but no one considers he is electable. Scratch Paul. Leaves Perry and any new candidate. Ryan and Christie are the only left. Christie is not in condition for a Presidential run. Would probably drop dead from the exertion. Ryan is so tainted, you would have to be a fool to nominate him. Even the Republicans are angry with his Medicare stance. Sorry folks, comes back to Perry.

    So now you have an opinion of a 81 year old man who has seen a lot of elections. The outcome is all I have to tell you. Perry wins, but the voters give him a Democrat congress and senate, so that the entitlements will not be in danger.

    With Perry's background as a Democrat at one time, this may not be a bad move for America. The Teas, trying to keep Perry in the white house, might back off and allow him to put the country back on track and GOD forbid get revenue back into the tresury

  79. Really reassuring that Governor Rick Perry's bucolic bravado is not selling well outside of Texas. The national spotlight and analysis is, as I predicted, more than Perry can stand. It's also interesting that Karl Rove panned him so quickly. Makes you wonder about their previous relationship under G. W. Bush in Texas politics. He wasn't playing to rave reviews here in Texas either. His loyal audience here was mainly the uneducated, Bible thumping, unsophisticated rural and urban rednecks from which he springs. He is seriously lacking in substance beyond his hair fetish, attack mode, and prayer meeting acts.

  80. What has Karl Rove been doing the last couple years besides appearing on Fox and writing for the Wall St. Journal? You'd think he would have spent a little time coming up with a plausible candidate for the Presidency. Unless he really doesn't care. The current Team GOP is a joke. And time is running out. This just shows the leadership vacuum in the Party.

  81. It is a mystery to me why you media folk insist on overlooking Ron Paul who does have experience, a plan, a following, and did as well as the rather caricatural Bachmann in the Iowa nonsense. Perhaps it's because you are convinced he can't get the Republican nomination because he doesn't have that batch of deep-pocketed neo-fascists backing him. But the media, in its various forms, has as much influence as the oil soaked fat cats. You could have the Republicans slathering to get him on the ticket IF you wished. Why don't you? I have serious disagreements with him on some points, but in the end I have enough pros on my list that I'd switch from Obama. But PerryBachmannHuntsmanChristieEtc? You must be joking. They are all politicians at their worst, not Leaders of the world!

  82. The only thing good that I can think of regarding Governor Perry is that Karl Rove and the Bushes don't like him.

  83. Ignorance, stupidity and lying rule at the top of the Republican party. How sad for us we have one party so out of morals and ethics. Just stating the Fed printed money demonstrates much to fear with Perry. Perry, Sarah and Michele seem to say anything without one fact in hand or in head.

    Too much information will never hurt you, too little can kill you,

  84. Considering how few Congress Republicans or even Republicans in general have simply ignored Perry's threat of bodily harm to the Federal Chairman should he enter into Texas territory, I think it shows how their thinking is similar to Perry's. "If you don't do what I want, then you are in physical danger" and you are also very likely treasonous to boot.

    If this is what we are being subjected to at the beginning of the run for presidency by Republicans, what in heaven is it going to be like in the coming months? More gun sites a la Palin on opponents? More demands for proof of both American birth and level of patriotism?

  85. Move over Sarah and Michell, here's a guy who says whatever on the top of his head, it doesn't have to be true or make sense as long as it "riles". Haven't the voters had enough of this?

  86. What you fail to mention is that ANYTHING is better than "Hope and Change". Thank the Lord for Martha's Vineyard's ban on telprompters. I think if I had to listen to another taxpayer-funded stump speech from this guy I would start screaming. It's over. And everyone on the planet knows it's over except Barry. He thinks this is just the start. "Did anyone really think Hope and Change was going to happen overnight?" Good night. When is The Times going to wake up and stop endorsing failure. The Hooe And Change bus left in 2008.

  87. Absent entirely from the list of potential candidates is...BUSH!! No not "w" - the intelligent one, Jebb. As a democrat I would not vote for him but confess that compared to all the other kooks and morons available he is far and away the best choice; which in turn will make him turn down any invitations to run. (Maybe it's because he's too good) .

  88. Polls seem to indicate a preference for a "generic" Republican over Obama. What does that say about your man Obama? Let Perry tell it like it is, the people want to hear it. At this stage, only a dope would buy the "Hope".

  89. I have to challenge David Underwood, comment #3. The Treasury prints money but the money supply is managed by the Fed. If the Fed didn't buy Treasury securities, the money supply wouldn't be increasing so quickly and the dollar would be much stronger. The Treasury and Fed both are to blame. Like the Siamese Twins, cut one off, they both die within hours.

    The Fed/Treasury could have bailed out Lehman. Lehman filed bankruptcy on a Monday because the Fed/Treasury had no way to bail them out. In less than 36 hours, the next day, they found $160 billion to bail out AIG.

    Rick Perry might not appeal to NY Times readers, but he can be elected president without NY, California, and Mass. People are angry at the bailouts combined with a jobless rate over 9%.

    Rick Perry reminds me of my favorite Democrat. Not FDR, but Harry S Truman. Give 'em hell, Rick!

  90. Nice work, Mr. Bruni. Serious research leavened with humor. I miss Frank Rich a little less now.

  91. One thought about Perry and the 'catching up' he has to do to reach a W. Bush level of gaffes. This is a perception driven by an accelerating level of what D.P. Moynihan called Defining Deviancy Down. Even a Decade ago, Perry's behavior and everyday remarks would be intolerable in an American candidate for national office. Now we have secessionist lunatics, Elmer Gantry impersonators, economics fantasists (this last holds for both partys), anti-science witch doctors, proponents of violence in politics and vigilante justice, etc etc etc taken seriously by the press and the public. The country got so used to Palin that her political clone is now acceptable to the idiot fringe, who backed her in enough numbers to give her credibility as the potential nominee of the Bizzaro party. Perry has said and done far worse things than W Bush at this point in Bush's career. The difference is that in just a decade the stupefaction of the US by propaganda and cultural degeneration has proceeded to the point where we don't notice as much. Perry has nothing to say and nothing real to offer, but then neither do the rest of these losers.

  92. The Fed chairman should avoid travel to Texas? Not! He should go to Austin,Houston,Dallas, or maybe the Alamo and offer seminars on good citizenship, good stewardship, public service and fiscal policy. Not that any of those things interest the governor of Texas.

  93. Again, Ron Paul is not mentioned. Sad.

  94. No mention of Ron Paul who got over 25% of the Iowa straw poll?

  95. Love you, Frank. Have followed you from Rome to the table to this. I've missed Gail and, certainly, Frank Rich, but your opinion pieces are just great too.

    I thought your mention of asthma with Christie would be tied to his obesity. It's his rotund body that makes me believe he could not survive a grueling national campaign for the presidency. Besides, he's just glib and,like all republicans, thinks small, ironically. It's just cut, cut, cut...no vision of the future as a place of big, bold ideas that will help society thrive in the 21st century.

    Michele Farley

  96. Rick Perry: no hat, and no cattle. The ideal Astroturf candidate.

  97. "Heroes until they've arrived"? Obama fits that category very nicely don't you think?

  98. First I have to hand it Mr. Bruni, what a great writer. Then to Karen Garcia for painting Cheney as a cross between Darth Vader and the Borg, it brought a smile to my lips. I'd also like to thank Dough Terry, Nan Socolow, Gemli, The Wifley Person, McBride, Burns, Hett, et.al. for being able wordsmiths and for helping me wake up after sleeping a bit too late this morning. I used to rely on Maureen Dowd to learn new and interesting words. Keep up the good work folks.
    Here in the swaggering southwest, under staggering heat, with skies as big as the Mall of America and politicians molded from equal parts cactus, coyote and sand (with a touch of lizard and rattlesnake thrown in), we have a term for cowboys like Rick perry; All hat and no horse.
    Apparently the Bush camp hates Perry with a passion. The enemy of my enemy is my friend? As Bartlebty would say, "I'd prefer not to". Is it because he doesn't come from old money? Or is it because he out-evangelicizes Dubbyah? Inquiring minds want to know.
    Perry reminds me of nothing less than an amalgum of Snidely Whiplash, Gabby Hayes (or Slim Pickens), Eddie Haskel and Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, another product of Texas who went on to achieve a certain culturally iconic status of infamy. If we can wink, nod and chuckle about these guys in retrospect, whats wrong with a reincarnation of all their characteristics in a modern day Voldemrot? Sit back on the veranda, sip that mint julep, long island iced tea or can of lone star beer, fan yourself with your 5x beaver, 10 gallon Stetson and practice qucikdraw with your colt .44 magnum (the most deadliest gun know to mankind) as the varmints and immigrants scramble through the no longer protected wilderness. If anyone seriously thinks about voting for this guy I have just one question for them: Are you feeling lucky today, punk?
    President Perry would complete our transformation from a bastion of liberty into a dystopian panopticon.

  99. Gary Johnson for president

  100. #32 wrote: "The idea that Rick Perry "will bring the fight" to President Obama is ludicrous for he's already shot himself in the foot repeatedly and will continue to do so because his supporters are laughing with him and appreciate his loose-canon attitude."

    Yes. Perry will shoot himself in the foot again and again.
    I suggest he invest in a pair of crutches ASAP.

  101. Thank-you for pointing out that Perry has called for secession. Perhaps the media wanted to kill his future aspirations by letting him survive for as long as possible before having a campaign about this issue that would demonstrate Perry's lack of patriotism (which a call for secession is a defining characteristic).

  102. The straw pole in Iowa means this: if you win you're not going to be president (W was exception to rule). A new candidate will come along but Obama will win a second term by a very close vote.

  103. Your columns are well-written Rich redux and I thank the NYT for printing them.

  104. We don't know what potential candidates are made of until they declare themselves and start campaigning. And we don't know how they will be as senators, representatives, or any other elected official until they are elected. Furthermore, until they run or get into office, more the latter than the former, they don't know what they are going to face in terms of opposition, allies, or anything else. I'm sure that Bush Jr., wasn't expecting a 9/11 to occur while he was president. Obama probably wasn't expecting the economy to stay as bad as it has for this long.

    The most important thing is that they rise to the occasion and deal with the situations as best they can on behalf of ALL Americans, not some Americans. The current Congress has not done that and has lost our approval and faith in their ability to govern. Ideology doesn't matter in the face of situations that require pragmatic actions such as creating jobs.

  105. Re post 22:
    So nominating highly credible candidates is what you Republicans do, Richard? Like the McCain/Palin ticket, which coupled a prematurely senile Senator whose main asset was his status as a war hero, who sounded like an idiot on tour with Joe the Plumber, and who chose the most breathtakingly incompetent vice presidential candidate in my rather long memory? Rich, you sound like a smart guy; surely you don't really think McCain is capable? In fact, we have a long list of mostly losers nominated by both parties, don't we? Since the Kennedy assassinations we had the crooks Johnson and Nixon (Credible? Isnt this the guy that you could tell was lying because his lips moved?), the guy who pardoed the crook, the failure who replaced him, the senile ex-actor masquerading as a conservative who piled up more debt than all other presidents combined and caused the S&L crises, the passionless bureaucrat who couldn't escape the actor's legacy even though he knew it was screwing the country up, and then, finally Big Bubba; the only semblance of success in the last forty years of presidential history. Even he screwed it up partly by not getting national health insurance when we needed it to compete internationally, and by buying into the Reagan-Bush deregulation of finance and premature internationalization. Surely you don't want to argue that W. Bush was either credible or competent? I still can't believe we were stupid enough as a people to tolerate his nomination by the failed and stinking carcass of a once great political party. What do suppose Dwight Eisenhower would have said? My guess he would have said we need an honest and rational conservative party. The GOP needs to go, and the sooner you Republicans figure this out the better the next twenty years will be.

  106. Has Obama figured out how many states there are? In Beaverton, Oregon when he was running for President he claimed he visited 57. Give me a break and give the candidates a break. It happens to all of them. In fact, you could fill a book with Biden's!

  107. Three of the many mysteries that is Rick Perry:

    1. Why would a secessionist want to be president of all these united states?

    2. Speaking of rebels against the Constitution, it takes high chutzpah for a secessionist to accuse ANYONE of treason.

    3. Why does someone so proud of his job-creating record think that government has no role in the economy?

    Guy's a freak. Next!

  108. In late summer of 1979 I was working at a youth hostel in San Francisco. One of my coworkers was a working class Englishman on a "self guided tour" (who knew when it would end?) who informed me that Reagan would be our next president..... I couldn't believe it, Reagan seemed so transparent to me : an actor auditioning for his biggest role.
    And so it continues apace with every Republican candidate : I can't believe it, they seem so transparent. Hoe do they spew such ignorance and get elected? Is this 1979 all over?

  109. Great perspective on the contender issue...and made most readable thanks to Frank's enthusiastic and artistic choice of words. Thank you.

  110. As a percussionist, I found Frank Bruni's deft inclusion of three different types of drums in his column today to be very clever. We don't see that very often.

  111. It is too bad you weren't a columnist for the last election. You could have written about three candidates. The first was an ivy league graduate, a fine speaker, who as a state legislator voted present many times in order not to take a stand on anything. He also believed in gay marraige. Then he went to the Senate, where he didn't do much of anything, except change his mind about gay marriage. Of course, he was also not there very long.

    Candidate number two was a former first lady, who had no legislative experience at all (although she had plenty of experience defending her husband). She then quickly moved to a state she had never lived in before, so she could run for the Senate. She, was apparently a fine senator, although like candidate number one, it was not a long term career.

    Finally is candidate number three. A fair haired young man, with a beautiful family. He had government experience, but alas, his morals were somewhat wanting. He cheated on his ill wife then had a child with the mistress, but insisted it was his aide's.

    I only bring this up because we keep takeing shots at anyone from the opposite side, ignoring that our side is not exactly attracting the best either. It seems that most people seem to run for the job out of opportunity rather than a deep commitment to wanting to help the country. Of course, the fact that we basically destroy most good people during the campaigns could explain why the people who could be really good choose to stay on the sidelines.

  112. Why should anyone write anything bad about a Republican candidate? As if Republicans care that their representatives are viewed as hicks by everyone else. Republicans don't care so don't engage with them.
    The only reason you're writing about Rick Perry is that there's nothing good to write about Barack Obama. Not yet anyway, if I have the narrative right.If I have the narrative right Barack Obama represents hope for the future, just not anything for the present. A vote for Obama is a vote for...for what exactly?
    The future is not something that can't be figured out, planned and talked about, if you're an engineer that is. Are there any political engineers out there right now? From what I see the left there is nothing, from what I see on the right there are only plans from the past.
    It is dismaying, two worlds to chose from and no place to call home. Republicans, like Rick Perry and Michelle Bachman, have a nice home and no Democrat yelling like Noah is gonna make them move . Democrats...well they're like vagrants. Moving from house to house and trash talking their old hosts to their new ones. Democrats have no home of their own right now. Serves them right.

  113. I sure wonder what Molly Ivins is thinking right now.

  114. Being the next great candidate is analogous to being the backup quarterback in the NFL. You look really great until the pass rush is in your face!
    For the sake of comedic value alone, you have to hope that Christie, Palin and Ryan join Crazy Eyes, Mitt and Cowboy Perry in the race. The only thing better would be having Rand join the race - would love to see him eviscerating dear old Dad on Foxx News.
    Just picture what the first debate would be like!
    Comedy Central could not write a better script for a comedy series than the Party of Know Nothings have given us for free.

  115. Well, I have to start off by saying that I actually talk to a Republican every day, my retired Army officer husband and that affords me an interesting perspective. He is supporting Romney as is my Aunt who is a Republican and with whom I have had 40 years of good natured arguments. When the Bachmann people called, I asked him if he wanted to talk to them and he said "NO, and you can tell Michelle Bachmann if I don't get my Social Security and Army retirement checks, I will hold her personally responsible. The other day he received a letter from Rick Perry. He said, "Look at this, I'm sure not going to read this." He immediately threw it into the trash. My Aunt said, "I don't understand these Tea Party people." Well, anyway, I thought I would give us a jolt of reality in this sea of fears and craziness.

  116. By using Shane and Perry in the same breath, you give Shane a bad name, for any comparison is mistaken. Don't forget, Shane was the defender of the small guy, the family farmer, in his war against the potential corporate cattle barons of the day, who wanted the range to stay open at any cost. And lest we forget, Shane went to battle only reluctantly, assuming his 'hero' mantle only after the barons had hired a goon (the wonderful Jack Palance) to do their dirty work. To the end he remained virtuous and honest, rejecting the suggestion from Marian that he was doing it 'for her,' telling her instead that he was doing it for ALL the people in the valley. And then, after bringing 'civilization' to the valley, he moved on to the next stop on the frontier, for he couldn't stay, since guns had no place in the country he was destined to settle. Despite Little Joey's entreaties to remain. Of course, what we've learned later is that while Shane had become our foundation myth, the great Western Hero, America had long ago been settled by corporate interests every horse step of Shane's way west. That's the story Perry now defends, at the same time he wears Shane's mantle. That's his shame, and ours, if we fail to see the difference.

  117. # 11. You are assuming that disaffected progressives will still vote for Obama? Doubtful (as #21 argues). In 1968, anti-war Democrats stayed home while two pro-war candidates ran for President. Nixon beat Humphrey by a whisker. Johnson had control of Democratic Party funds, so Humphrey could not have changed his position had he wanted to. And -- one of the most fateful moments in our 20th century -- Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated. At any rate, don't count on too many people holding their noses and voting for Obama. A Rick Perry could very well sneak by.

  118. The Republicans have chosen political purity over electability and extremism over moderation and thus,hopefully, have taken themselves out of national elections.

  119. Quote from Perry, April 15, 2009, at a rally:

    "I'm just not real sure you're a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we're with you!"


  120. Would any party today nominate Lincoln with his dour face or Roosevelt in a wheelchair? We have reached the place where good hair, good looks and charisma are what matter first – and it does not bode well for any of us. Which of the founding fathers would pass the charisma sound bite test today? Any of them?

  121. I sincerely hope the Democratic Party finds suitable candidates to run and hopefully replace Obama as the party standard. He is a failure and does not deserve another term. Any brave qualified Democrats out there to lead and repair this tattered country. More of Obama or the any of the Republicans is to go further down the path of a country that seems to be rudderless and utterly self destructive.

  122. Whenever I hear Perry's name, I'm reminded of Molly Ivins comments about him in the Texas governor's office:

    "Bush was replaced by exceedingly Lite Guv Rick Perry, who has really good hair. Governor Goodhair, or the Ken Doll..., is not the sharpest knife in the drawer."

    "Last summer [2001], the Guv appointed an Enron executive to the state's Public Utilities Commission and, the next day, Perry got a check for $25,000 from Ken Lay. He explained this, to everyone's satisfaction, as being 'totally coincidental.'"

    Just the sort of guy we need in the White House. Someone to carry on GW's revolution against the American people.

  123. The GOP establishment knows the only one with a chance is Romney. They are letting the crazies spew into the ether and hoping the poison won't dissipate before Romney actually starts running so he won't have to say any of it out loud. Its a strategy, a craven, hypocritical one but its the only shot they really have at this point.

  124. Come on, the only negative you can find about Chris Christie is his asthma? How about the buyer's remorse that many in the state are currently experiencing due to his tendency to blame all the state's problems on those who actually work for it, ie. teachers, etc.? As a candidate for president however, I think his real problem is that he's basically Perry-lite - a New Jersey-style pompous bully. I think in this case, Texas can certainly claim to do it bigger and better.

  125. Where's Fred Thompson when you need him?