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Posted by on Aug 13, 2011 in Politics | 12 comments

Rick Perry is Running: Why Perry Will Become the GOP’s Instant Front-Runner

Texas Governor Rick Perry is running for President. And The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomsky makes a convincing case that he’ll become the GOP’s instant front-runner — and likely nominee. Here are some key parts of it:

First, I think Perry becomes the frontrunner, even ahead of Mitt Romney, for three main reasons. No. 1, he fires up large chunks of the base in a way Romney does not. Romney has “default candidate” written all over him, but evangelicals and other hard-shell conservatives are never going to love a Massachusetts Mormon. They’ll love Perry. No. 2, Perry can quickly become the “establishment” candidate because the establishment of today’s GOP is not based on Wall Street or the heartland but in Texas—Karl Rove, the oilmen, the various billionaires who prime those GOP pumps. No. 3 is speculation rather than fact, but I believe Perry will demonstrate pretty quickly that he’s a better campaigner than Romney. It won’t be hard.

He notes that Perry will reflect a cultural divide in America — and accentuate it in 2012:

When my friends and I looked at George W. Bush in 1999, we shuddered like people who’d turned a street corner and stumbled across a dog’s corpse. We knew and had contempt for his beliefs, but it had nothing to do with them, really. It was just the way he presented himself. That puffed-out chest. That self-satisfied smirk. All that Jesus talk—even in the event that it was sincere, which we never quite bought, it was to a liberal deeply inappropriate to haul it into the public square like that. He represented Southern country clubs and Dodge Durangos and Browning bolt-actions and homes with no books in them (putting Laura to the side, since she wasn’t the candidate). He was the kind of man who, if I ran into him at a hospitality tent at a tailgate party, I’d make an effort to avoid. Liberals just couldn’t stand the sight of the guy. And that was before he ruined the country.

I understand that conservatives feel similarly about Obama. They look at him and see wine-and-cheese parties where people have jazz playing in the background and where talk turns to the merits and demerits of Jonathan Franzen, who drive Priuses (or is it Prii?) and buy espresso machines and live in homes with far too many books in them. And worse than that: for much of Red America, Dr. Frankenstein himself could not have stitched together a more perfect Other: urban, urbane, sophisticated, intellectual. “Black,” of course, may no longer be a deal breaker in this day and age, but it doesn’t help. Many conservatives clearly can’t stand the sight of him.

Indeed, what we are increasingly seeing in partisan politics in America are two distinct world views — two almost separate perceptions of reality. And those who don’t choose sides and accept one of them unquestionably are often lumped into the “enemy” camp due to their inability (seen by partisans as a refusal) to see X or Y reality.

So what do we have to look foward to?

Perry, on this scale, is chillingly Bush-like…..During an Obama-Perry contest, millions of Americans on both sides would be shuddering constantly for four months. We’ve never had quite this kind of showdown culturally. Our present Kulturkampf dates only to the 1980s. There’s never been a cultural showdown of the sort Obama v. Perry would represent. Yes, Republicans hated Clinton, but he was Southern and enough of a good old boy that he cut across those lines to some extent. Gore was painted as an egghead, and was, but again Southern-ness diluted the cocktail a bit. Bush versus John Kerry is probably as close as we’ve come, but Kerry was never really quite threatening enough to Bush America to merit serious hatred. And John McCain, mostly because he was not Southern and partly because he was so old, was not nearly as perfect a foil for Obama as Perry would be.

I don’t relish this. We’re divided enough, thanks. To invoke one of Bush’s most degrading moments of smirky chest-puffery, I say don’t bring it on.

The whole way our political and media system are now set up is a way that lends itself to polarization and demonization. In listening to cable talk shows on XM radio I was again struck how most shows only feature left and right or Democratic and Republican, where each side disrespects the other, tries to define it and a discussion becomes a shouting or insult match.

There is little center, you see few independent analysts, and any kind of nuance or “on the other hand” is seen as bad radio or bad TV. And, to many partisans, any kind of nuance or “on the other hand is bad” — even traitorous — politics.

Meanwhile, even now there are some Democrats who seem to feel Perry would be a pushover — that there’s no way the bulk of Americans would vote for another Texas governor that soon, particularly if he brings back memories of you-know-who. They are deluding themselves.

What is uncertain: Perry has not been on the national stage where the scrutiny is much greater and political performance is constantly graded and analyzed. And folks such as Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann most assuredly won’t be giving him a pass.

But now I’d have to agree with Tomsky: Rick Perry has a chance to get the nomination and if Team Obama’s flat-footed performance continues on the economy and its tin-eared performance in politics continue, look for Perry to have a good chance to take the oath of office in 2012.

Add to that Democratic liberals making noises about a primary challenge or not voting (Supreme Court Supreme Shmort) and you could say today that Rick Perry will enter the race not facing an impossibly uphill battle.

To say the least.