With Iowa in the rearview, GOP candidates are making their way through the heartland of America riling up the base and driving home the party rhetoric. For Texas Governor Rick Perry this time has been spent spouting off audacious quotes every time a microphone is shoved in his face. It took all of two weeks for Gov. Perry to go from a legitimate presidential candidate to a walking political sideshow.
Perry has done the extraoridnary by making Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) look docile. His vivacious speeches even make those on the right quiver, yet he continues to double-down on his remarks and stances. Perry’s recent actions have not affected his popularity amongst GOP voters, as a recent Gallup poll has Perry leading all Republican candidates; however, the combination of Perry’s unabashed commentary and questionable record will only diminish his chances of defeating President Barack Obama in a general election.
Even in this early stage of the game it is evident that Perry is simply too radical to be president. He maintains that Social Security, the federal labor laws, and consumer protection laws are all unconstitutional. While his radical commentary may work in Texas and staunch Republican states throughout the Bible belt, it will undoubtedly fall flat in many swing states necessary to win the general election.
Merely a week into his campaign, Perry made waves by claiming that the economic strategy of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke bordered on “treasonous.” He managed to take the lunacy further by stating that Bernanke would be “treated pretty ugly in Texas if he prints more money between now and the election.”
What Perry failed to realize is that this is not a gubernatorial election. Presidential candidates cannot make erroneous comments like that and expect to garner votes. The Fed is a viable cog in the U.S. economic system, and it is not presidential to call the leader of the organization a traitor, especially when that leader is of your own party and you will have to work with him to improve the quality of the economy.
This past week, Perry followed it up with probably the most imprudent gaff possible by connecting the Republican struggle for lower taxes to the civil rights movement. Comparing the struggle of millions of Americans to receive their inalienable rights as human beings to the plight of corporations and wealthy individuals for lower taxes is absurd. Perry failed to realize that Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement strived not only for social equality but also economic equality — through anti-poverty programs and more welfare for the poor — something he firmly does not believe in.
Perry’s claim that America needs to be free of overtaxation in the name of civil rights portrays him as a money hungry power broker incensed with padding the pockets of corporations, which pay minimal taxes, and the wealthy, who already receive generous tax cuts.
The GOP voters are hanging on every word that Perry has to say, why shouldn’t they, he is media gold. But his unabashed commentary style will hurt him in the long run. This is a marathon not a sprint and while he may not feel it now these timeless quotes will become the unbearable cramps that cut him short at the finish line.
I have labeled Perry as the “Maverick version 2.0,” as he continues to wield a sharp tongue on the campaign trail, unafraid of the consequences and the backlash from those within his own party. But just like the original maverick, Perry will meet his demise in the general election, if not the primaries, as his mystique wears off and his mouth continues to write checks that his policies cannot cash.
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