When asked last week if he was "smart enough to be president," Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) replied, "Running for the presidency's not an IQ test."
Lucky for him.
But despite Perry's post-2012 candidacy attempts to refashion himself in the mold of a smarter and more polished statesman, it's going to take a hell of a lot more than a pair of Mad Men-chic frames and saying "I've changed" to convince voters that he's qualified for the presidency. When Perry entered the GOP presidential field in 2011 -- one that prospective primary voters were less than enthusiastic about -- he immediately catapulted to the top of the polls where he remained for a solid month before imploding spectacularly under the weight of his own stupidity.
While Perry failing to remember the third federal agency he'd eliminate as president was pretty astounding, it was hardly the lone gaffe he made during the campaign. In a previous debate he had described Social Security as "a Ponzi scheme" and "a monstrous lie." During another he said Turkey -- arguably the most secular country in the Middle East -- was run by "Islamic terrorists." For one campaign spot, he decried the repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, while alleging that "our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas." Finally, in New Hampshire, he gave perhaps the most bizarre speech in presidential campaign history, presumably under the influence of some sort of stimulant(s).
Perry wants us to forget all of this and believe that over the last three years, he's somehow morphed into presidential material and isn't actually who he was in 2012. In which case, who will the Rick Perry of 2016 be?
As it turns out, a fatalist.
In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Perry was asked his state's high poverty rate and replied,
"Biblically, the poor are always going to be with us in some form or fashion."
Imagine President Lincoln refusing to do anything about slavery because biblically, slaves "are always going to be with us in some form or fashion."
If this is the new and improved Rick Perry -- one that says there will always be poor people because Jesus -- then color me unimpressed. What an alarmingly fatalistic worldview, and one that should be totally unworthy of anyone in the business of governance. It suggests that since there will always be poor people, trying to legislate poverty out of existence is a futile endeavor. That will surely come as a great comfort to the 4.6 million Texans currently living below the federal poverty level, who can take solace in the fact that their misfortune is biblically sanctioned. As an added bonus, they shall inherit the Earth.
As soon as President Perry is finished destroying it.
Image credit: Gage Skidmore