Yep, he stepped in it, all right — as he acknowledged.
But Rick Perry has my sympathy on this one. I do this kind of thing all the time. Last night, I was talking with someone about city politics, and mentioned Belinda Gergel‘s successful bid for the District 3 seat, which set records for spending. And I not only drew a blank on the name of her opponent, Brian Boyer, but more to the point could not recall the name of his boss, brother-in-law and key supporter, Don Tomlin.
And if I’d done that on television, while running for city office, I suppose I’d be dismissed as a dope. But that would be unfair. Because I’m not an idiot… No, I’m not… Am NOT!… Cut it out, y’all!
And this brings us once again to the inadequacy of these “debates” as an instrument for choosing the most powerful person in the world.
The job is not about thinking on your feet on a stage with people throwing gotcha questions at you. It’s about what you do in the Oval Office, frequently when no one is watching (and no, I did not intend that as a Bill Clinton reference).
These “debates” would be a good way to pick a stand-up comedian or Shakespearean actor, if that’s what you were hiring. But it continues to disturb me that we attach so much importance to momentary memory lapses. They don’t mean much. The presidency is NOT reality TV.
What Perry did last night does not, in and of itself, establish that he is an idiot. It doesn’t indicate he’s a genius either, but I certainly hope readers make their decisions based on more substantial criteria than this.