Monday, August 15, 2011
Paul Begala writes a very interesting Daily Beast column against Texas Governor Rick Perry, who announced his 2012 candidacy for the Presidency this Saturday. Two things about the column should ring alarm bells for any reader who, like myself, is neither leftist nor conservative, but values the economic and personal freedom that only a government that protects individual rights can deliver: (1) Begala slams Perry, first and foremost, for being stupid. (2) At least one of the facts that Begala brings up is reason enough to oppose Perry even if he runs against Obama. Both underscore my reasons for opposing Perry.
First of all, the stupidity. Within the self-contained, mutually-reinforcing cocoon of leftist culture, the implicit assumption is that the opinions conventional to that segment of society are what any moderately thoughtful adult would have. Conversely, the only reasonable explanation for deviance from that line (that they can think of) is either an inability or unwillingness to think about such positions. Since the left are so out-of-touch with what many Americans believe (but know that it often isn't what they believe), this dismissal/insult of an opponent ironically manifests, not as relief, but as fear. You can almost hear them wail that, "Those dumbasses in flyover country are going to elect him!" (In a sense, such fear is justified: If you've already written off persuading people of your position, because you assume that you can't reach them, of course a strong opponent will frighten you.)
When you see someone like Begala going for the jugular right off the bat, you know this is someone he senses could win an election. I am afraid the Begala is right in a very delimited sense: Not that I agree that most Americans are stupid, but Perry can strike enough right notes to win the election -- and the left is unable to offer a viable alternative, even (especially?) if Obama were to lose a primary challenge.
Second, within the mixture of positions Begala opposes/makes fun of (RE Social Security: Has this man ever heard of the Supreme Court making a mistake, or does he oppose the Court ever being able to overturn itself?), there are some very bad signs regarding Perry, especially the following:
... Perry gathers 30,000 people to a controversial Christian prayer rally. In Houston. In August. One veteran Texas politico told me, "The guy is Elmer Gantry. He could take over a conservative megachurch tomorrow and outpreach the pastor." [link added]As a religious conservative offered, in "defense" of this gathering:
There is no way the event could be seen as nonpolitical, of course, since Perry is the Governor of the nation’s second largest state and an almost-certain presidential candidate.[bold added]This is precisely why it was inappropriate for a sitting governor to hold such an event, and it should alarm anyone who wants to get the government out of our pocketbooks without exchanging that form of interference with having the government everywhere else in our lives. Indeed, I have noted that Perry has already moved Texas in this direction -- and by co-opting the apparatus of the nanny state everyone thinks he opposes. (Not that Begala really cares, but he mentions in passing that,"Under the supposedly antigovernment Perry, government jobs grew at twice the rate of private-sector jobs." [link in original])
Worse still, in that conservative's "defense" of Perry is the real reason people who value separation of church and state should fear potential Tea Party support for Perry: He probably does look like an earnest man, who sees a moral dimension to America's crisis. Although the Tea Party is a nonreligious movement, it remains largely philosophically unsophisticated, and many, rightly seeing the need for a moral stand against socialism (which is present in the works of Ayn Rand), may wrongly take Perry to be the man they are looking for. Unfortunately, not just any moral framework will do, as witness Perry's own record. But I leave it to others to flesh out the argument that religious morality is bad for America.