I just read Rick Perry’s 2010 book, Fed Up. Actually, I’ve been reading the books of all the Republican presidential contenders – at least those who’ve published one recently. That includes Cain, Gingrich, Paul, Pawlenty and Romney; Huntsman and Santorum have books that are several years old and Bachmann’s book is coming out in November. The impression offered by a book is very different from what we glean from a televised debate – as we shall see momentarily.
In fact, Perry’s book surprised me very much. In short, it is terrific. He makes an articulate, impassioned, well-reasoned and well-documented argument for a staunchly conservative America. He is particularly strong when discussing the tenth amendment and states’ rights. He skewers the unlimited spending, over-regulating, unconstitutional mode of (national) government that has gripped the nation. Perry’s writing is forceful, coherent and convincing – and even humorous on occasion. One senses a person who is in command of his facts, who marshals his arguments in a cogent fashion, who speaks from a great deal of relevant experience and who is supremely confident of his analysis and recommendations.
So who the h— is that guy impersonating Rick Perry in those televised debates and what have they done with the real Rick Perry? The person I have seen on the boob tube several times now is inarticulate, unsteady in his elocution, seemingly unsure of himself, and generally rather less than impressive. It makes me wonder how he has been repeatedly re-elected Governor of Texas.
How can this be? The disparity between Perry’s performance as an author and his TV debate persona is glaring and mystifying. I can think of a few reasons:
· He didn’t really write the book. He wouldn’t be the first national politician to employ a ghost writer; our current president is reputed to have done so.
· He has been woefully unprepared for the debates. There is a school of thought that either he expected to run away with the nomination and didn’t think the debates could trip him up or he just doesn’t do well in an unscripted, spontaneous environment.
· Both performances are genuine – i.e., he is a deep thinker and writer, but a poor public performer.
I have no idea which of these (or something else) is the accurate explanation. But I find it incomprehensible that the man who wrote the startling clear words below is unable to articulate them on stage. From the point of view of philosophy and what the country needs in the next president, I find Perry’s positions (as expressed in his book) superior to those of his competitors. But if he can’t improve his stage act, he won’t get the nomination – or if he somehow does, Obama will clean his clock.
“The statists believe in a powerful, activist central government that advances a radical secular agenda in the name of compassion. They hide behind misguided notions of empathy and push token talking points about fighting for “the little guy,” all the while empowering the federal government to coercively and blatantly undermine state-, local-, and self-governance.
Why empower states instead of a single, powerful national government? The simplest answer is this: Americans want to live free. They want to gather together with people of common beliefs and goals to establish communities in which they can prosper. They do not want to be told how to live their lives. They certainly don’t want some far away bureaucrat, judge, or representative of a different community to tell them how to live. That liberty has been the essence of America ever since the colonists came here.