Imagine prospects for any Alaskan politician, especially a slick, ambitious customer, desperate for fame and fortune. Post-Palin, dream on. Ditto Texas by the time Rick Perry staggers home -- making everyone else mystified how this nincompoop got thrice elected governor, boasting an undefeated run to the top. Pity the next Lone Star schlemiel, tiptoeing through the double whammy of W. the despised and now Mr. Good Hair turned hair-brained.
Of course, millions of us cheer when one more know-nothing right-wing fraud from our most self-aggrandizing state gets shut out from the White House. Historic train wrecks, wherein a favored son intensely identified with his home state self-destructs, seriously taints his home ground. Outclassed from the get-go, Perry took to the road, lurched badly, then struck out -- as our longest serving governor disintegrated from Tea Party icon to a national misfit on par with the legendary, hapless Adm. Stockdale. That stumblebum (with far more credentials) was Ross Perot's '92 running mate, both skewered in one of SNL's best skits ever.
Perry confirmed quickly that no Heavenly spirits will impede his goon show, evoking the obvious query. Was he always this dumb; that is, did blind Texas voters endorse this guy -- or did prime time simply broadcast his buffoonery and reinforce the Peter Principle? Yes, leaving Dixie can dramatize the inside of a true hayseed. For the record, Perry's Blundering Brain-Freeze redefined the Texas-sized "oops" that ended the official "Worst Self-Inflicted Wound in Debate History." What else would sideline Herman Cain's despicable, multiple improprieties?
Molly Ivins, Justified
So it takes no great leap to predict that Perry, added to W.'s disgrace, sets in stone Molly Ivins' prescient warning, "Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention." Is there no good news here? Perry's descent -- as swift and dramatic as the fall of the Alamo -- means our not having to "mess with Texas" for a while.
To those proposing Palin as the ultimate dim bulb, or Bachmann the ultimate space alien, or Cain the ultimate serial liar, Perry has outdone them all, blazing forth as the ultimate non-performer -- the guy who can't even finish his own triad of dreadful agencies dooming the country. Perry can't even complain, as did the Palin, about gotcha questions. Perry did it all to himself, hook, line and . . . whatever #3 is.
This crash is all the more dramatic because Perry thundered in as such a proudly arrogant loudmouth, a fearless hunter who kills coyotes for kicks. Oh, how mighty dunderheads fall. But to get whipped by the likes of Cain, Bachmann and Newt Gingrich -- that must be galling for a high-flying rooster. So when will enough Texas adults recall their wayward goober before he does more damage, perhaps like what child abuse is doing to Penn State. The longer Perry stays at large, and the nastier he gets against Romney (what other option is there, more TV clownishness?), the guy who never lost a Texas election will quarantine his backward state.
Texas already suffers no small reputation issues, W. aside, being our least educated, least insured, most polluted, most income-disparate large state. Two conspicuous House criminals -- Dick Army and Tom DeLay -- plus wingdings galore like Rep. Louie Gohmert, hail from Texas. Plus, an array of extremist militias (remember Waco) and more Tea Party types than any other state. The bigoted pastor (and Perry fan) impugning Romney's Christianity hails from Texas, along with Karl Rove, Senators Kyl and Cornyn, Alberto Gonzales, our worst ever attorney general, Phil Gramm, Ken Starr, and John Tower. And a list of local deviants like Bonnie and Clyde, John Hinkley, John Wesley Hardin, Jack Ruby, and David Koresh. Those over 50 still painfully recall where JFK was assassinated, then where his murderer was shot down in full view the next day -- deep in the heart of Dallas.
Certainly, the world honors the array of notable, noble Texans, in politics, intellectual advancement, and a myriad of arts. Who doesn't admire true American heroes, from way back but also modern activist writers and doers, from Ivins, to Bill Moyers (UT Austin-educated), Jim Hightower and Diane Wilson? And the Lone Star boasts stunning geographic treasures, including one close to my heart, the nation's single site where endangered sea turtles still nest.
No Quitters on This Drive
No one expects this born-again absolutist to withdraw, as his swaggering, faith-based conceit will take his campaign turmoil as one more divine test of his spiritual worth. Throw in southern honor, and this injured loner stays on the scrimmage line. Reactionary oil billionaires will keep him afloat to save face, if nothing else. But "Remember the Perry" I predict will compete with "Remember the Alamo" as eventual Lone Star lore, but without any heroics.
Like Palin's sham populism, Perry's amalgam of misinformation, inflating his alleged achievements, required a well-run, error-free performance to succeed. But imagine the unspoken indignation in Texas and beyond for a good old boy bested by a minority neophyte-sex abuser never elected dog catcher. We're talking Biblical-sized "oops" here, with it must hurt.
Indeed, in dramatic contrast to slicker phonies like Cain or Palin, ever ready to shoot off verbal trickery, Perry is a self-confessed, repetitive clod who seems most unpresidential: "Yeah, I stepped in it, man. Yeah, it was embarrassing." Even worse than dung on boots, Perry's top spokesman, Ray Sullivan, blundered on with more nonsense, "That was a stumble of style, not substance." Balderdash! It was all substance as absence lacks "style." Nothing more definitively disclosed the Perry goofball devoid of substance, especially under pressure, so amateurish he couldn't parrot his own, fully reduced campaign patter. All hat and no rattle? All gristle and no sizzle? All slop and no pop?
If Not Done, Overdone
Even Republicans were brutal: "I think he's done," said an insider from another campaign. Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom didn't pull punches, "There's nothing I could say that could darken the night Rick Perry had." You mean, beyond pitch dark! Non-partisan presidential scholar Larry Sabato judged Perry's howler "the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate." And number-cruncher Nate Silver reported the online betting site, Intrade, quickly doubled Perry's odds to 25-1. Ouch.