After the Placeholders, Rick Perry?

The other day, I had a chat with a good friend who works on Capitol Hill. Both of us are wary of Mitt Romney — and for similar reasons. He seems a chameleon. And, apart from the tenth amendment issue, we cannot see much difference between Romneycare and Obamacare. If the latter were enacted on the state level, would it really be all right? If that is what Romney thinks, he really is just another managerial progressive.

As my friend pointed out to me, from the start, there has been someone who occupies the place labeled “not Romney.” First, there was Donald Trump, and he really stirred the pot. More recently, there has been Michele Bachmann, who is a far more serious possibility. But she, too, lacks gravitas. Tim Pawlenty’s attacks have considerable force. She has never run anything larger than a Congressional office, and the rapid turnover in her staffers suggests that she may even have a problem with that. She does a fabulous job, however, in articulating what is at stake in this election.

In effect, the space reserved for “not Romney” has been for some time a place looking for a proper occupant. My guess is that the space is now properly and fully occupied. Rick Perry may have defects — and we will soon find out about these — but he certainly has gravitas. He has served in the gubernatorial office in Texas longer than any of his predecessors, and the Texas economic model clearly works. He is an exceptionally good campaigner, and the advertisement posted by Tommy below is a real winner — gentle, low-key, upbeat, and devastating. Without being heavy-handed, it invites one to compare Perry’s record as Governor with Obama’s as President; and, without any hint of mean-spiritedness, it induces you to reach the obvious conclusion.

Perry is, in one particular, preferable to the others who have caught my fancy. Unlike Mitch Daniels and Paul Ryan, he is in the race, and he intends to win. That is a sine qua non. Whether he is preferable in other regards I do not yet know. But he might be.

Think about it this way. If we nominate Mitt Romney, do we have a choice in November, 2012 or an echo? I think that this is an open question. If, on the other hand, we nominate Rick Perry, the question has a clear-cut answer.

  1. Cobalt Blue
    Paul A. Rahe: In effect, the space reserved for “not Romney” has been for some time a place looking for a proper occupant.

    Thank you! In my defense of the Bachmann candidacy earlier, this was an important subtext, but you succinctly distilled the point and brought it to the fore. In the absence of other plausible not-Romneys, supporting her was easily preferable to falling in line for the technocrat. I’m not sold on Perry but it’s not inconceivable that I could be. At the very least, he comes across as a good spokesman for conservative ideas – not a minor point!

  2. Jimmy Carter

    So “clear-cut” that those who wouldn’t normally vote and lean left would run screaming to vote for Obama.

  3. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Jimmy Carter: So “clear-cut” that those who wouldn’t normally vote and lean left would run screaming to vote for Obama. · Aug 13 at 5:06pm

    As in the case of Ronald Reagan?

  4. Jimmy Carter

    Exactly!

  5. Stuart Creque

    It will be interesting to watch the first two weeks of the Perry campaign.  If it goes well, I anticipate Palin reading the tea leaves and endorsing him on Labor Day weekend.

    If something causes Perry to stumble in a major way — some campaign failure of Gingrichian proportions — then Palin enters the race on Labor Day.

    Because it’s pretty clear that none of the non-Romneys in the race before Perry’s announcement were setting the GOP electorate on fire.  Bachmann may have been doing the best of the group, but she was vulnerable as Dr. Rahe has described.

    So we will see if Perry steps comfortably into the role of the Anti-Romney, or leaves an opening for Palin to exploit.  (If Perry proves up to the role, I think Palin sets her sights on 2020 when Perry’s second term is up — or, heaven forfend, 2016 when Obama’s second term is up — and endorses early enough to earn a political IOU from Perry, perhaps a Cabinet appointment to Interior or Energy or even the VP nod.)

  6. Mel Foil

    Not Obama and Not Romney, both? Can we be that lucky?

  7. Hegesias

    I can’t quit imagining an absolutely delightful scenario where, in a debate, Obama begins droning on about how much worse things would have been had his policies not created/saved X number of jobs, only to hear Perry noisily clear his throat, at which point he would begrudgingly look over his shoulder to see Perry give him a big smile and a wave.

  8. R. Craigen

    On MB:  ”she has never run anything larger than a congressional office”?

    Last I checked she was running the Tea Party Congressional Caucus, with 85 members — insofar as anyone runs it.  In any case, she organized it, and is the go-to person for the caucus, one of only two truly recognizable names in their number.

    She runs a pretty impressive fund-raising campaign.

    Now if we replace “anything larger” with “anything more serious/challenging/praiseworthy”, how about an entire squadron of teenage foster-children, besides her own quiver?  Anyone who’s fostered, or knows someone who has done so, knows this is an impressive feat.  Any idea what sort of in-your-face nonsense you can get from a teenager who’s been bounced around foster homes for years?  If you don’t, then ask someone who does!  Then multiply by 20 or so.  She’s one impressive lady on many different levels.

    Like Cain she talks of surrounding herself with those who do know.  These two candidates stand out as understanding more than the rest of the crowd that no president is an island.  Those who don’t get this are … well, mini-Obamas.

  9. Matthew Gilley

    I understand the “anti-Romney” angle, but if Perry is going to be a serious front runner, he can’t simply position himself vis-a-vis Romney or anyone else. A successful campaign gets votes because of who the candidate is, not who he isn’t.

  10. Chris Johnson

    Please be very cautious with this guy.  I have tried to be somewhat neutral and indicated that my family supports him, but I want you to be aware of aspects of his personality that deeply concern me.

    Please look at the image posted on previous posts of him firing a pistol into the air, that we know ill be used by the left. What about other’s reactions?

    In my family, I never want that image to be seen by my children, not because it makes him appear to be a right-wing gun-nut, but because our youngest no longer has his BB-gun.

    In my opinion, there is no schtick he wouldn’t pander to, for a vote, but he is not welcome in my home.

    I don’t want to live in a home where we all have to duck and hit the dirt, everytime the youngest turns around, because he simply refuses to learn to keep the muzzle down on his weapon.

    That is the sort of callous disregard I sense from this person that takes bloggers to a shooting range and makes them wear safety glasses, then fires weapons into the air.

    Please check closely.

  11. Jimmy Carter

    CJRun, Yer kids watch television? Movies?

  12. John Walker
    Paul A. Rahe: a choice in November, 2012 or an echo?

    I’m all for choice, but how well did “A choice, not an echo” work out for Barry Goldwater in 1964?

    I am all for standing on principle, but if Obama is re-elected in 2012 along with a Democrat Senate then it’s game over.  It’s probably game over anyway. but a RINO squish who is willing to irresolutely paddle the kayak away from the falls is preferable to the guy revving the 75 horsepower Merc toward the abyss.

  13. Andrew Barrett

    I don’t know much about Rick Perry, yet I was certainly impressed by his announcement speech today:

    “And I’ll promise you this: I’ll work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can.”

    Amen.

  14. Southern Pessimist

    “And I’ll promise you this: I’ll work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can.”

    From the close of his speech today.

    That sort of cuts through the usual political BS doesn’t it?

  15. Southern Pessimist
    Andrew Barrett: I don’t know much about Rick Perry, yet I was certainly impressed by his announcement speech today:

    “And I’ll promise you this: I’ll work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can.”

    Amen. · Aug 13 at 6:35pm

    Once again, I see I was quick on the draw but slow on the trigger.

  16. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    John Walker

    Paul A. Rahe: a choice in November, 2012 or an echo?

    I’m all for choice, but how well did “A choice, not an echo” work out for Barry Goldwater in 1964?

    I am all for standing on principle, but if Obama is re-elected in 2012 along with a Democrat Senate then it’s game over.  It’s probably game over anyway. but a RINO squish who is willing to irresolutely paddle the kayak away from the falls is preferable to the guy revving the 75 horsepower Merc toward the abyss. · Aug 13 at 6:17pm

    No Goldwater, no Reagan.

  17. Margaret Ball
    Stuart Creque: It will be interesting to watch the first two weeks of the Perry campaign….If something causes Perry to stumble in a major way — some campaign failure of Gingrichian proportions — then Palin enters the race on Labor Day.

    Betcha that won’t happen. Perry is a seasoned campaigner and has a habit of winning. I have my disagreements with him on a number of issues, but I’m delighted to see him enter the race because he actually does offer a real choice. (Sorry, but I think of Romney as “Obama Lite.”) All this week while the WH has been putting Romney down, I’ve been thinking, “You only wish Romney were your worst problem – wait until Perry gets started.”

  18. BKelley14

    A. Perry isn’t Barack Obama

    B. There is no other realistic choice.

    He’s got my vote.

  19. AmishDude

    It seems to me that Rick Perry is a ruthless political animal who would have no problem reaching into his opponent’s chest, pulling out his heart and showing it to him while it beats.

    I like that.

    And if Romney can beat such a candidate among Republican primary voters, he probably deserves the nomination, too.

  20. BKelley14

    Just one question though: What does Perry think about High Speed Rail?