Texas Governor Rick Perry is off to a good start if his goal is to become the quintessential talk radio political culture candidate — someone who talks in the most polarizing language possible. His comments about Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke coupled with comments on his comments by people associated former President George W. Bush make up our Quotes of the Day:
Perry caused a furor Monday when he strongly criticized Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.
“To be honest with you, I know there’s a lot of talk and what have you about if this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what you all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas,’’ Perry said in Iowa. “I mean, printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous – or treason, in my opinion.’’
Aides to George W. Bush, the previous Texas governor, who appointed Bernanke when he was in the White House, condemned the remark.
“You don’t accuse the chairman of the Federal Reserve of being a traitor to his country, of being guilty of treason,’’ Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to Bush, told Fox News yesterday.
Tony Fratto, a former spokesman for the White House and Treasury Department, wrote on Twitter: “Gov. Perry’s comments about Chmn. Bernanke are inappropriate and un-presidential.’’
UPDATE: He drew criticism from Rick Santorum:
Rick Santorum compared Perry to John Conyers. “To me, the rhetoric that Rick Perry used was sort of the rhetoric I would expect from a John Conyers, talking about President Bush and saying he should be impeached,” he told CNN.
But the bottom line is that these days in America what was once “inappropriate” and “unpresidential” seems to fit an old model of politics.
The newer model embraced by many politicos, talk show hosts, and new media commentators is 24/7 anger, rage and demonization. Accuracy, nuance and measured response is too boring and unscoring in this world.
And Perry clearly felt that is what he meant to say. So voters — particularly independent voters — now have a clear choice if this is the kind of politics they feel we need to get the country going:
On Tuesday, Perry showed no signs of backing away from the comments, despite the attention they were winning for his fledgling presidential campaign.
“I am passionate about the issue but I stand by what I said,” Perry told reporters Tuesday in Iowa.
So he believes this word is fitting.
Meanwhile, last night it sounded as if Rove was trying to backtrack a bit on his comments about Perry. A sign that Perry is the wave of the GOP’s future? Demonizing, anger-whipping up rhetoric and all?
So now “treason” has been refined to include doing something in politics someone doesn’t like — not just betraying the country. And it’s on its way to it being acceptable to use the term that way.
Elections do have consequences for countries.
And nominations also do have consquences for political parties.
On the other hand, Hot Air’s Brent Budowsky predicts Perry will self-destruct:
This is sick stuff. I can think of several nations Rick Perry is fit to lead, but the United States of America is not one of them. With his latest comments, perhaps Rick Perry wants to be the running mate of Vladimir Putin in the coming Russian election.
Perry will self-destruct within 30 days. It has already begun.
I’m not as optimistic:
I think our politics and partisanship has gotten uglier and uglier — to where the pronoucements of many on today’s right would have been relegated to after midnight UHF TV stations in the 1960s, shunned by Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley and later by Ronald Reagan.
These earlier conservatives not only talked about patriotism, but they walked the walk in respecting those with whom they strongly disagreed and not just engaging them on an emotional front but on the politically intellectual front.
And they won some of those battles.
I can easily see Perry winning the nomination, even if the Republican establishment is out to get him.
I can’t see him winning a majority of independent voters so he’d have to get his entire base out to vote. Which is probably what he would plan to do.
Meanwhile, at least for the record, the Romney camp doesn’t seen concerned.
The saddest part about what is going on for the country is this: many voters are clearly disappointed with President Barack Obama. If they are offered a serious, issue-oriented alternative, someone who can make an affirmative case for his/her candidacy and not just try to sound like a Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck broadcast or use the tired old demonization lines about Obama they could peel off a lot of independent voters, non-Tea Party Republicans and even some moderate Democrats.
But comments such as Perry’s indicate that if he is nominated it will be an election with the sub issue of which candidate is the scariest. And Perry’s comments are not the kind of comments many independent voters will embrace.
Here is part of a definition on the web about treason:
A person commits the crime of treason if he levies war against his state or country or sides to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. Treason is a crime under federal and some state laws. Treason is made a high crime, punishable by death, under federal law by Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”
Under this article of the Constitution, no person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court. Treason requires overt acts such as giving sensitive government security secrets to other countries, even if such countries are not enemies. Treason can include spying on behalf of a foreign power or divulging military secrets.
If he believes this is the word that is fitting, then precisely what glimpse does this give into how his judgment be on other issues of economy, war and peace that impacted the United States should he occupy the Oval Office?
And MSNBC’s must-read First Read suggests that Obama wants to run against Perry:
*** It’s pretty transparent whom Obama wants to run against next year: You think the White House is seeing the influence of the Tea Party on the campaign trail — and is loving every minute of it? You better believe it. While President Obama is happy to poke Mitt Romney (for his health-care law), he declined to take a shot at Rick Perry for criticizing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and for bringing up Obama’s lack of military experience. In an interview with CNN, “Obama said presidential candidates have ‘got to be a little more careful’ about what they say. But as Perry had just entered the race over the weekend, Obama said, he will ‘cut (Perry) some slack’ for the moment.” Cut him some slack? Whom does Obama want to run against next year? It’s pretty transparent…
UPDATE II: John Podhoretz in the New York Post:
Yesterday, in refusing to apologize for what he said, Perry didn’t even suggest he’d been speaking lightly. He said instead that this — Fed policy, presumably — was something about which he’s passionate.
That compounded the mistake. It stands to reason that if you’re looking to be the next president and you’re passionate about an issue, you take it with deadly seriousness, you don’t cheapen it. You address it as soberly as you can.
Suggesting that Bernanke’s easy-money policy was tantamount to treason is the opposite of handling an issue soberly. It’s hyperbolic blatherskite — pleasing to the kinds of people who love to scream at their TV sets, but not to the mass of voters who will choose the winner in November 2012.
Some conservatives, dismayed by what Perry said yesterday, complained he wasn’t showing the qualities of a “grown-up” (Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post) or not being “presidential” (Karl Rove).
There’s a much simpler problem here: Perry looked kind of like a jerk.
He’s just now getting introduced to the American people. Tens of millions of them are inclined to think favorably of him right off the bat, and they might convince others over time.
Perry has a great personal story, an impressive record to run on and a Republican electorate hungry for someone strong and new. He framed the contrast in a race against Barack Obama beautifully in his announcement speech by promising “I’ll work every day to try to make Washington, DC, as inconsequential in your life as I can.”
That was great. “Treating ugly” and “treasonous” were lousy. Perry’s partisans need to learn to distinguish between the two. And so does Perry.
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