Perry falls vic­tim to Texas Cheer­leader Mas­sacre

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

The Sept. 12 Repub­li­can de­bate was noth­ing short of a Texas Cheer­leader Mas­sacre. Rick Perry be­came the lat­est ca­su­alty in yet an­other No­neof-the-Above GOP pri­mary fight.

Just as in 2008, vot­ers are so for­lorn with the unin­spir­ing field that the big­gest plu­ral­ity at any given mo­ment is usu­ally be­hind the None-of-the-Above can­di­date. Which is to say, the can­di­date who is not yet in the race but hov­er­ing around the edges like some hope­ful an­gel who might res­cue us.

First came Michele Bach­mann, who was ev­ery­body’s heart­throb. She hov­ered on the out­side, teas­ing, mak­ing us swoon.

Af­ter join­ing the race, she shot to the top of the heap, then al­most in­stantly be­gan to fade and GOP vot­ers turned to a swag­ger­ing gov­er­nor of a big state who at that mo­ment was not run­ning. Then Mr. Perry made a big splash get­ting into the race.

On Sept. 12 his can­di­dacy met re­al­ity.

Not in re­cent times has a de­bate turned into a more vi­cious pileup against one can­di­date. Yet it was hard to feel sorry for him.

Mitt Rom­ney skew­ered him not only for giv­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants in his state a path to ci­ti­zen­ship but also in-state col­lege tu­ition rates.

“This is a state’s rights is­sue,” Mr. Perry tried lamely. Well, there is an­other term for it among GOP vot­ers. It’s called “amnesty” and it isn’t ter­ri­bly pop­u­lar.

Then there was the con­tin­ued at­tack from fel­low Texan Ron Paul, who has ques­tioned every­thing from Mr. Perry’s con­ser­va­tive cre­den­tials to his very man­hood. Mr. Paul evis­cer­ated Mr. Perry’s tax record be­fore stop­ping short to say he didn’t want “to of­fend the gov­er­nor” any more for fear “he might raise my taxes.” Bru­tal.

In a tele­vi­sion ad di­rectly at­tack­ing Mr. Perry, Mr. Paul re­minds view­ers that Mr. Perry used to be a Demo­crat and was once Al Gore’s state chair­man.

Or, as Mr. Paul refers to him TWICE in the spot, Mr. Gore’s “Texas Cheer­leader.” It is a clear ref­er­ence to Mr. Perry’s strange ca­reer as a cheer­leader at Texas A&M but more im­por­tantly a bla­tant re­minder of un­sub­stan­ti­ated but vir­u­lent ru­mors that Mr. Perry is gay.

The main­stream me­dia usu­ally gets apoplec­tic about such in­nu­en­dos in po­lit­i­cal ads — un­less, of course, it is di­rected at a Repub­li­can run­ning as a con­ser­va­tive.

Dur­ing the de­bate in which CNN shame­lessly lam­pooned the tea party, the net­work sim­ply piled on by train­ing the cam­era for long stretches on Mr. Perry while he was de­voured alive by ev­ery­body on stage.

The empty, dis­em­bow­eled look on his face did him no fa­vors.

The harsh­est, most un­re­lent­ing at­tacks were about Mr. Perry’s de­ci­sion to force young girls to get vac­ci­nated against a sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­ease.

“I’m al­ways go­ing to err on the side of life,” he said, es­tab­lish­ing a ter­ri­fy­ing new stan­dard for govern­ment in­tru­sion into the most pri­vate ar­eas of our pri­vate lives. And at the same time cyn­i­cally twist­ing one of the most sa­cred ar­gu­ments in the con­ser­va­tive fir­ma­ment: choos­ing “life” over abor­tion.

Mrs. Bach­mann went in for the kill to point out that the lob­by­ist for the drug com­pany ben­e­fit­ing the most from the vac­ci­na­tion re­quire­ment was none other than Mr. Perry’s former chief of staff.

Mr. Perry ig­nored that Texas-sized con­flict and in­stead chose to fo­cus on a pal­try cam­paign con­tri­bu­tion he had taken from the drug com­pany.

“If you’re say­ing that I can be bought for $5,000 . . . “ he said, strug­gling to find the big­gest, bad­dest con­se­quence he could muster be­fore limp­ing off with, “I’m offended!”

Luck­ily for him, he didn’t fan him­self or faint as he said it. It was a sad mo­ment for the wannabe cow­boy, but prob­a­bly a nec­es­sary one.

Now it’s back to the next None-of-the-Above can­di­date. Any­one seen Sarah Palin?

Has Chris Christie found a tread­mill that can sup­port him yet?

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