About Rick Perry
August 18th, 2011

Yesterday a friend asked me why I was such a Perry fanboy, so I think it’s worth making this caution explicit: I’m not pro-Perry in any meaningful sense. I have no idea if he’d be a good, or even average, president. He probably wouldn’t be my personal preference for the Republican nomination. (I’ll carry a torch for Mitch Daniels until the convention opens in Tampa.) When I say that Perry is very likely to win the nomination and should stand a very good chance (at least even money) of unseating Obama in the general election, I’m not making an argument about moral or intellectual merit.

What I’m trying to do is be as clear-eyed as possible about the politics of the matter. And as a political proposition, I judge Perry to be very, very formidable. (In the same way, I remain convinced that Mitt Romney is a political joke with very little chance of electoral success–and this has nothing to do with whether or not he’s a good guy or would make a good president.)

The fallacy of most political punditry is that people conflate their personal wishes with their analysis. That’s why “analysts” often claim that a given party or candidate would be wildly successful if only they would take positions closer to those which the “analyst” holds themselves.

So when I say that Perry looks like a freight-train, it’s not because I’m a Perry guy and I want him to be president and I think he’ll wind up on Mt. Rushmore. It’s because he’s a disciplined campaigner and a stud politician who knows how to win elections. It’s because he’s positioned to unify the party in ways no other candidate in the race can. It’s because the macro-conditions of the race make Obama extremely vulnerable to any opponent, but particularly to one who can muster the arguments Perry is making. And as evidence that all of this may be true, I’d point to Perry’s launch, which has been the most successful and masterful opening to any presidential campaign I’ve seen, culminating in his jumping +9 points in Rasmussen. As I’ve said before, I believe he’ll overtake Romney in the RCP average in just a few weeks.

  1. David August 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Seeing as you’re a New Yorker fan, I wondered if you had any thoughts on Perry vis-a-vis this piece and follow-up (blogged by Jon Chait at TNR):



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  3. DB August 19, 2011 at 4:15 am

    I think Perry is not very ideologically conservative, not significantly more than Romney. I think he’s a lock because of the undiluted appearance of contrast. He’s out of left-field, like a Southern machine politics version of Palin. Your Romneys or Danielses or Christies are bien pensants who may differ with Obama on this or that, but Perry just plain differs.

    That said, Tricky Rick has no margin for error. NYT and NPR and the New Yorker and New Republic and Slate and Kos Huffing Lake are now objectively pro-Romney for the rest of the year.

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  5. Ben August 19, 2011 at 9:43 am

    “Tricky Rick has no margin for error. NYT and NPR and the New Yorker and New Republic and Slate and Kos Huffing Lake are now objectively pro-Romney for the rest of the year.”

    And as we all know, those are the publications that Republican primary voters look to for guidance!

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  7. Perry. Romney. Federer. — Jonathan Last Online October 12, 2011 at 11:59 am

    […] getting enough email about Perry that I want to, again, clarify something: I’m not in the tank for the guy. I’m not even sure I like him and […]