Okay, in the interest of fairness (Again with the fairness, just when we were having fun?), here’s a much more charitable view than I offered Wednesday night when Rick Perry, stern foe of bloated government, couldn’t remember which part of the BG he wanted to axe. From a reader’s comment to a sympathetic James Fallows:
Mitt Romney has been running for years. Having repeated every issue numerous times, I doubt he will ever stumble or appear to be groping for words. Rick Perry, although on the national stage for awhile, has only been running for president for a few months. My guess is that he thinks he’s up on the issues and that he’s learned them adequately. But I suspect his lapse was due to the not being on the campaign trail long enough.
The full and fair Fallows piece is here. But, duty discharged, I have to say I lean more toward the analysis of Matt Bai in the NY Times:
What’s really missing from Mr. Perry’s campaign — the vacuum that was exposed in the debate — isn’t smoothness or intellect, but a sense that the man is clear on what the moment demands. It underlies the lingering sense that Mr. Perry is running chiefly because he saw an opening he could exploit, rather than having spent much time thinking about what ails the country and what to do about it.
I like Bai’s reasoning (full piece here) not only because it seems correct, but because it echoes something I wrote weeks ago when Perry first tossed his hand-tooled Tony Lamas into the ring: Perry’s candidacy is more opportunistic than anything else, more an attempt to exploit (what then seemed to be) Obama’s weakness than a well-grounded analysis of what he, Perry, could bring to the party.
Perry, as I wrote, may have been thinking that Old Ugly Beats Old Nothing every time. Alas for him, Perry has turned out to be Old Ugly for sure, but he teeters on the brink of being Old Nothing as well.