Perry ads amazingly trite, yet revelatory

I continue to be fascinated by Rick Perry’s TV ads, largely because they are so startlingly lacking in anything that might ordinarily fascinate an active mind.

They are so formulaic, so trite, so astoundingly lacking in originality, that it is truly remarkable.

And on top of that, they are badly executed — which is also surprising, since you would think that anyone would at least be able to present such simplistic messages without tripping over his laces. Take this bit of the script of the ad above:

The fox guarding the henhouse is like asking a Congressman to fix Washington: bad idea.

Obviously, what is meant here is, “asking a Congressman to fix Washington is like the fox guarding the henhouse.” The idea being criticized, being held up as a bad idea, is asking a congressman to fix Washington, and the universally understood cliche to which it is being compared is the fox guarding the henhouse. But the announcer gets it completely backward. Even if you told me that the script writer’s first language wasn’t English, it wouldn’t excuse this, because logic knows no language.

But, as bad as these ads are, they do reveal things about Perry, and with great economy of language.

Once again, what we learn about him (as we did back here) is that he assumes — or should I say, presumes — that the president of the United States is an absolute monarch who rules by fiat, with the other branches being completely subject to his will.

In this case, he plays on populist resentment of people who make more money than the voter (and he’s a Republican, right?) to endear the voter to his plan to emasculate and hobble the legislative branch. Elect me, he is saying, and I will wave my scepter and this thing you resent, this Congress, will become a poor, feeble thing, unable to wield any power any more (and unable to be a check on my power), too busy trying to scratch out a living back home to be an obstacle to the new King.

I say all this as someone who — as my readers well know — is a longtime champion of executive power here in South Carolina (a governor in control of the whole executive branch, a strong mayor in Columbia). But that’s because on the state and local levels here, the executive is so weak as to be unable to perform its proper function in a healthy government. That is not the case in Washington, and in any case, Perry overreaches to an extent that is shocking, and would be under any circumstance. Yes, he does so out of deep ignorance of the rule of law under our constitution, but that doesn’t make the (fortunately remote) prospect of him being president less chilling.

There’s a deeper irony here. In reality, the only way to bring about this poor shadow of the present Congress is, of course, to ask Congress to do it. No president could bring that about unilaterally. And as he says, asking Congress to “fix” Washington (according to his notion of “fixing”) is indeed like asking the fox to guard the henhouse. Or the other way around. Whatever.

6 thoughts on “Perry ads amazingly trite, yet revelatory

  1. Karen McLeod

    Deep ignorance of the rule of law?–How about a deep ignorance of his native language. Putting the cart before the horse is like asking Perry to make sense; unworkable.

  2. `Kathryn Fenner

    Dunno, Brad–his Brokeback Mountain ad looked nice, and probably hit the spots he was aiming for. The fact that he was wearing the Heath Ledger jacket and that he became the laughingstock of the liberal elites and homosexual wags was not a bug, it was a feature.

  3. Ralph Hightower

    Once one gets into Congress, they start thinking about how they can stay in Congress. It’s all about self-preservation!

    Since Congress can’t think or legislate past two months at a time, I think that the House and Senate terms should be two months!

    I’m tired of this DC gridlock. The Democrats did it to George Bush and the Republicans; the Republicans are doing to Barack Obama and the Democrats.

    Throw the bums out! There are no intelligent lifeforms in the House or Senate.

    Just as there were Democrats that blame George Bush for everything, there are people that blame Barack Obama for everything. Rick Perry is one of those, along with Florida’s governot, Rick Scott. Both Ricks blamed Obama for cancelling the Space Shuttle program. D’uh! It was Bush who decided to retire the Space Shuttle fleet!


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