Yeah, it was a trap.
Governor and new Presidential candidate Rick Perry (R, TX), on his priority levels:
…if I hurt the president’s feelings, well, with all due respect, I love my country and I love future generations more than I care about his feelings.
To give the context: the White House has been taking the opportunity offered by Perry’s entrance to the race to take slaps at the candidate. As Glenn Reynolds noted at the time, this was not a particularly smart strategy… which is something that I’ve come to agree with, and I’ll tell you why.
- The President jumped the gun in elevating an opponent. This is almost forgivable and certainly understandable – the Democrats have been almost besides themselves trying to find somebody, anybody on the Republican side to ‘promote’ to the position of head demon – but in typical fashion the Left stepped on a metaphorical rake while trying to do it with Governor Perry. I refer, of course, to their epic own-goal with the ‘black cloud’ oopsie… and you can tell that it was an oopsie because it got Jon Stewart to yell at the Democrats*. That’s a fairly reliable indicator that the Left has gone too far.
- It gives Perry access to more microphones. The typical rule for this game is Never punch down: like most rules it isn’t actually physical law, but it is a good rule of thumb. Because President Obama so quickly elevated Gov. Perry to a level where he was worth the personal attention of what is still the single most powerful man in the world, it naturally follows that what Perry says in response would also be news. And it turns out that what Perry says in response has nothing to do with personal spats and everything to do with job creation, which is a topic that Barack Obama would come off second to… every Republican candidate in the race, actually. Not to mention, Bozo the Clown.
- The President is not actually good at these kinds of fights. Obama thinks that he is, because he defeated Hillary Clinton in the primaries and John McCain in the general election. The only problem is, in the primaries Obama (more accurately, his staff) ‘won’ by manipulating every loophole in the Democratic primary system, stampeding super-delegates, and taking proxy slaps at an opponent who felt constrained in her response, thanks to somewhat insidious gender stereotypes. As for the general… God love John McCain, but he’s old, and he didn’t want to fight, and he really didn’t want to fight the black guy, and then the economy melted down, and Sarah Palin could only do so much. I don’t think that either McCain’s or Clinton’s response is going to be emulated by Rick Perry.
Does this mean that the nomination battle on the GOP’s side is over? Don’t be absurd. There are still three viable candidates, not one: Bachmann, Perry, & Romney. Any 0ne of the three has an easily-traced victory route to next year’s convention, and it is far too soon to crown any one of them. But what should be done now by all the candidates is to take careful note of the best way to handle things when the White House’s electoral flailing about happens to intersect a particular campaign: keep calm, present a cheerful, slightly contemptuous face to the Democrats’ hysteria, and use the opportunity presented by the extra microphones to repeat the campaign’s main theme.
Which right now definitely should be ‘jobs,’ by the way. The President’s currently doing horribly on that front, and people are noticing it.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I’d just like to clear up one thing about that ‘tar baby’ thing, though: if Jon Stewart really does think that it was an unconscionable term to use, he should really bring it up with Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry, who used the term himself in 2008.