During his speech at the annual teabagger hootenanny known as CPAC, Rick Perry declared, “I come here today to speak plainly [dramatic pause] about the times that we live in.” The former Texas governor then handed the microphone to his anus, which proceeded to unleash a noxious jet stream of hot air that wafted through the room where it lingered until well after the speech. Perry actually said,
“At no time, at no time in the last 25 years has the future been more uncertain and the world more dangerous than it is today.”
I seem to recall one morning in 2001 during my AP English class in high school when the principal announced over the intercom that passenger jets had slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing thousands. A week later people started dying after getting anthrax in the mail. Then the country went to war in Afghanistan. A couple of months after that, some asshole tried to set off a shoe-bomb on a plane. Now maybe it’s because I was just a teenager back then, but the world seemed like a pretty goddamn dangerous place at the time. Thankfully I haven’t felt nearly as bad about the state of the world since then.
I also seem to recall the Great Recession, which wrought the biggest evaporation of global wealth in 80 years, complete with crashing property prices, skyrocketing unemployment, and my heightened anxiety about whether I’d be able to find a job after grad school. Millions of other Americans felt similarly after being unceremoniously dropped from their companies’ payrolls. Talk about the future being uncertain.
Perry also addressed the unemployment rate:
“The unemployment rate is a sham. It leaves millions of American workers uncounted.”
Like Perry, I too have argued that the “official” unemployment figure skews the overall jobs picture, but that’s not the only figure that the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases. The BLS’ U-6 number, for example, does count those Americans Perry was presumably alluding to by including in the figure people who are unemployed who have stopped looking for work, and those who have part-time jobs but want full time work. So while the “official” unemployment rate for January was 5.7%, the U-6 rate was 11.3%.
That’s not great, but considering the U-6 peak of 17.4% in 2009, it’s dropped a long way:
Perry can take issue with the “sham” 5.7% unemployment figure, but that misses the broader point Obama has overseen a precipitous decline in unemployment regardless of how it’s measured.
I will say this though — and I really can’t believe I’m saying it: Perry seems nothing like the national political novice we came to know in 2011. And it’s not just his new glasses. It’s pretty clear Perry is more refined than he was four years ago, and not only did he speak with confidence at CPAC, but he hit all the right notes while saying all the right things.
Well, all the wrong things, but for this crowd, what Perry said was right and Right.