Back in 2012, Texas Governor Rick Perry provided political junkies with the equivalent of a nonstop laff-athon, punctuating his campaign with bumbles, clunkers, oops!es, and other classic gaffes. Well, get your popcorn ready. He’s back.
It’s hard to dismiss out of hand the governor of one of America’s biggest states, especially when that state is Texas, the very anchor of the Republican party’s presidential coalition. And Perry, with his corn-pone style and self-deprecating humor, is hard to pin down ideologically: Is he part of the Tea Party–aligned, anti-establishment movement that may or may not topple Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran tomorrow? Well, no, not quite. Is he part of the GOP’s Chamber of Commerce–loving, Wall Street–backed business wing that took advantage of Eric Cantor’s defeat to elevate another center-right, pro-business Republican in his place in the House of Representatives? Not exactly. Theoretically, at least, Perry might be considered capable of appealing to both sides in the Republican civil war. Unfortunately for Perry and for the GOP, however, Perry is a goofball who isn’t likely to get much traction.
Still, with new, “hip” intellectual glasses perched on his nose, Perry is making news. Perhaps it’s because Perry’s sheer goofiness makes him a good story, and perhaps it’s because the Republican field for 2016 has no clear front-runner, but consider Perry’s headline-making week and it’s clear that the Texas governor is on a roll, at least in the media. In Time: “Rick Perry Getting Ready for a 2016 Presidential Campaign.” In The Daily Beast: “Rick Perry, Humbled by His ‘Oops,’ May Be Ready This Time.” In Commentary: “Erasing the ‘Oops’: Perry Mulls a 2016 Bid.” And The Washington Post: “Rick Perry Says He’ll Be ‘Better Prepared’ to Run in 2016.”
Let’s be clear: Perry has no national political base, no apparent network for fundraising, no clear ties to any major GOP faction—except for his weirdly close relationship with Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana—and no evident plan to run for president. But he says he’s ready. During his comments at a Christian Science Monitor–sponsored breakfast last week in Washington, the event that generated all the Perry-is-ready headlines, he said: