Don't know if you've noticed, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between a really stupid Republican politician and a really smart one. The in-between ones, you can pretty much pick out no problem; they're usually the ones at the very bottom of the opinion polls.
But the smart ones and the dumb ones. They're all mixed in together at the top, and you can't really make out if this particular person is a highly-functioning politician in spite of his or her mental incapacities, or if he or she is playing a brilliant game of "hide the brain cell."
Case in point, Politico's lead banner headline at the time of this posting: Is Rick Perry Dumb?
Doubts about Perry's intellect have hounded him since he was first elected as a state legislator nearly three decades ago. In Austin, he's been derided as a right-place, right-time pol who looks the part but isn't so deep — "Gov. Goodhair." Now, with the chatter picking back up among his enemies and taking flight in elite Republican circles, the rap threatens to follow him to the national stage.
"He's like Bush only without the brains," cracked one former Republican governor who knows Perry, repeating a joke that has made the rounds.
So, people have been claiming that he's dumb since way back when he was elected to the Texas state legislature almost thirty years ago? And then he somehow managed to get elected governor and eventually ended up as the uncontested frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination? All while presenting himself as a person who wears cowboy boots because he can't manage the finer points of shoe-tying.
So, I ask you: Is he an extremely lucky Chauncey Gardiner-type person who just bounced from one happy opportunity to the next with the innocence of a special needs puppy? Or is he — like Ed Norton's Aaron Stampler in Primal Fear — a sociopathic genius wearing the mask of an idiot to cover his true intentions and manipulate a trusting public into getting what he wants?
Furthermore, let me ask you this: If you were a sociopathic genius seeking public office in Texas, what would you do?
But conversations with both Perry admirers and critics reveal a more complicated assessment about the mind of a politician who has never lost an election — and ranks as the longest-serving governor in Texas history.
He is not an ideas man. Perry hasn’t spent his political career marking up the latest Cato or Heritage white papers or reading policy-heavy books late into the night. Advisers and colleagues have informed much of his thinking over the years.
Genius or moron, it seems to be working for him. And I'm really not sure one way or the other. I'm also not sure how much it really matters.
All I really am sure of is that we're all really really gonna die. Really.
Tags: Politico, Primaries, Republicans, Rick Perry, Texas