Rick Perry has my sympathy, but he’ll never have my vote

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.

12 thoughts on “Rick Perry has my sympathy, but he’ll never have my vote

  1. Brad

    I have more problem with the fact that he has so little respect for the English language that he says such things as, “This ain’t a day for quitting nothing.”

  2. Doug Ross

    I’d give him a pass if he forgot the name of some foreign dignitary… but to forget one of the three departments he says he would eliminate? It wasn’t a gotcha question…

    And the act of forgetting was trumped by his fumbling response as he tried to deal with it. He choked and then he responded badly. Ending with “Ooops” was not good at all.

    Romney has this locked up. And I am fine with that. He is unflappable, has executive and business experience, and has no skeletons in his closet.

    It’s kind of interestng that it appears to be easier to elect a black man as President than a Mormon.

  3. Abba

    You are correct that this flub does not establish Perry as an idiot. However, it suggests (while not proving) that he is unable to think and react quickly and diplomatically on his feet, a quality that is necessary in a President of the U.S. The whole world pays attention to what our President says and how he says it, and he or she should convey confidence and clarity not only in speech but also in critical thinking. Perry has yet to do that, in my opinion, and this incident does not help. Several others in the Republican candidate field also fall short on these qualities.

  4. KP

    I’m with you, Doug. If I’ve studied the question hard enough to decide that three major federal agencies need to be eliminated, I’m not likely to forget which ones — which is very unlike forgetting the name of someone who ran unsuccessfully for city council a few years ago. Sounds like one of Perry’s staff members came up with something that would sound good on the trail, and Perry said yeah, yeah, let’s do that.

  5. Brad

    Doug and KP are absolutely right. I posted this just before lunch, and over lunch I started rethinking this post, along these lines…

    It’s completely inexcusable to throw around tough talk about how you want to do away with an entire federal agency — throw all those people out of work, and leave what they did undone — and to have so little regard for your own plan that you can’t even recall the name of the agency.

    But my irritation over that is PARTLY a result of the fact that I so disapprove of his approach to government, so I shied away from making that observation, wanting to leave philosophy out of it.

    But beyond philosophy, and beyond the shallow consideration of whether he thinks well on his feet, there is the fact that he is a blusterer. He speaks as though he were running for king rather than president. A Texas sort of king: “An’ ah will tell yuh… it’s three agencies uh goverment, when I get there, that’re gawn…”

    Aside from the self-important bluster, there is the cavalier attitude — a sweep of my mighty hand, and an agency I can’t be bothered to remember will no longer be.

    The man has no business being considered for the job of POTUS. All I was trying to say, to begin with, was that forgetting a name for a moment does not, in and of itself, establish that fact.

  6. Joanne

    I used to think the debates were just show-boating, but these have really pared down the ones with possibility from those who have none.

    It’s kind of like American Idol. Some of the contestants can sing the pieces they have practiced over and over again, but give them something new to work on…eh, not so much. The real singers, however, can do it.

  7. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Joanne–the scary thing to me is that we may end up with Newt Gingrich–who can really sing, but is dangerous–remember the government shutdown?

  8. bud

    Some of the better American Idol singers have forgotten the words. I forgot the name of the person I was suppossed to introduce at a large meeting several years ago. There isn’t much in this world more uncomfortable. Heck if my pants had fallen down I wouldn’t have felt any worse. Fortunatelly for me the memory lapse only lasted about 30 seconds. Thirty seconds of hell.

  9. Barry

    A person running for President doesn’t have to be perfect in a debate, but if he forgets something important, he’s got to be able to cover for it well.

    Perry didn’t cover for it at all – and looked bad trying to cover for it poorly.

    He has no chance.

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