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So am I one of our own worst enemies, too?

So am I one of our own worst enemies, too?

That’s the suggestion made by some readers in response to my post about Rick Perry’s brain freeze in last night’s debate.  It’s also a theme followed up by commenter OwenJ in an e-mail to me, which reads:

Some time ago, responding to the response from some bloggers and pundits to Politico’s smear attack on Herman Cain, you said that we were our own worst enemies.

You said that, with justification, because these people were piling on Cain as a result of — but not merely because of — the unsupported allegations. Cain did make serious mistakes in the way he handled the attack: he and especially his campaign manager went so far as to slander Rick Perry by making vitriolic unsupported accusations that he was behind the attack. Further, some pointed out, with justification, that this poor performance was part of a pattern.

Tonight Rick Perry lost his train of thought for a moment during the debate and some bloggers (and so-called pundits) are now piling on Perry, declaring him “done” and characterizing this lapse in hyperbolic terms. They also point out, with justification, that this is part of a pattern.

So my question is: Are we still our own worst enemies for piling on a candidate because of his poor performance in these debates? Or are we only our own worst enemies when piling on Herman Cain for his poor performance in managing his campaign?

I think there’s a big difference between making a mountain out of a campaign manager’s mole hill (Mark Block wrongly stating that someone worked at Politico) and pointing out a disaster which befell a candidate in plain view on national TV during a critical debate in which he was trying to resurrect his image.

Relatively neutral observers saw it for what it was:

I knew when I decided to run the video and the reaction in the Twittersphere and elsewhere that it would evoke strong emotions.

But I don’t think I was being one of our own worst enemies by dealing with the facts as they unfolded on the television screen.

Update:  Perry is not the first to have a brain freeze, but he also was not a sitting President who already had won a previous national election.  Perry desperately needed to rehabilitate himself after prior debate failures, which made the event more consequentia.  Video via David Freddoso:

CORRECTION — The video originally posted by Freddoso was doctored:

Friends: Sometimes you just get it wrong, and you have to fess up. I was wrong to post this item on November 10, 2011, on a debate gaffe President Bush had made in 2004. I fell for an edited version of the video that made Bush’s bad debate gaffe look far worse than it was. I have replaced the text from my post so as not to let false information spread any further.


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Is this as bad as Admiral Stockdale’s, “Who am I and why am I hear” line in the 1992 VP debate?

I wanted to be a fan of Perry until details on the Gardasil vaccination program and his terrible stance on illegal immigration became well known.

The man basically melted down on national TV. He did it to himself. He seems to have recovered well this morning but he has already shot himself in both feet and a hand. Last night was simply one more self-inflicted wound.

He is clearly NOT helping himself in these debates…

    spartan in reply to WarEagle82. | November 10, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Educate me, what was Perry’s ‘terrible’ stance on illegal immigration?

    I think this is as great a problem as promoting/defending Cain 24/7. There is an epistemic closure among some folks in the Conservative Movement. They listen to what appeals to them without critical analysis. Thus, is commentator A says Perry is bad on illegal immigration, you buy in without any regard to the truth of the issue. Growing up, we used to call critical analysis, common sense. Now, it is emotional reasoning.
    Emotion is the tool of the liberal mindset but it does not work so well with the conservative mindset because conservatives are more analytical. Unfortunately, it appears we have been co-opted.

    The problem with the good professor in this matter is he has pushed the Cain defense to the exclusion of Cain’s lack of substance and policy. We become emotionally involved in the defense and damn all consequences. When Cain implodes (and he will), who will you blame? Perry, because Cain said so?
    When Perry freezes on the stage, does he get a similar benefit of the doubt? No, we are treated to Most. Brutal. Ever. My complaint, and apparently the complaint of others, is just play it down the middle. Never forget words have meaning and if you play it down the middle with the critical analysis, then we will be united next November instead of sniping at each other.

    BTW, speaking of words having meaning, it’s “why am I ‘here’?”

    Go Dawgs!!

I’m tired of being told I’m supposed to judge a candidate based on his/her debating ability.
Last time around, we got a President who did just fine at debating, but had a real problem with “enemy identification.”

    abenson229 in reply to Neo. | November 10, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Agree Neo. I’ll never not vote for someone just because he’s not good at what passes for debates in modern America. They’re more like reality tv in my opinion.

    Unfortunately debates are the be all end all for a lot people.

    WarEagle82 in reply to Neo. | November 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I don’t recall the professor or anyone else telling anyone that they should base their vote solely on debating skills or style. If you can point to such a comment please do so. But a reasonable person could find numerous reasons why Perry would not be their candidate of choice in this primary season.

      Red4Liberty in reply to WarEagle82. | November 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      I think Neo was making a general comment about media/commentator coverage that has pounded away at how crucial the debates were. I didn’t see a charge that the good professor instructed Neo to think in a certain way.
      P.S. I find numerous problems with all the candidates, but they are all better than Obama. Let’s not eat our own just yet. There are many more innings to be played and I’ll bet your candidate will be slimed at some point, so why not have a united, conservative front. It’s fine to point out substantive issues you have with any candidate, but a brain freeze………..come on! Grow up!

So now we are calling life-long Democrats (Larry Sabato)”neutral observers.”

How far we have fallen in self-deceit.

    spartan in reply to retire05. | November 10, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Sometimes, ya need a scorecard to know who your friends and enemies are. Your observation was not lost on me.

    Red4Liberty in reply to retire05. | November 10, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I didn’t think Sabato was a neutral observer either. I see him on Fox all the time and he always came across as a liberal. I guess he is neutral, Cain is a saint, and Perry is the devil. Check, Check, Check! Please liberal media and “conservatives” who eat their own (selectively), please tell me what else to think!

Blogging is punditry, and there is a difference between an advocate and a shill.

I am a liberal but I refuse to support Obama because he is incompetent and corrupt. Many lefty bloggers feel they should cover for Obama no matter what because “The Republicans are worse!”

That’s shilling.

prof you are just dealing with the facts. over at powerline in a post about newt hayward made a gratuitous and cruel paranthetical crack about perry. everyone including perry knows he flubbed. the only purpose is to show how clever the author is. it is those types of comments that are self destruuctive of conservatism

These scripted debates are basically jokes anyway, I don’t understand why so much emphasis is placed on them. That said, in our shallow, vapid, entertainment-centric society, Perry’s brain freeze is a fair sized disaster.

It doesn’t make a tinker’s damn bit of difference that every single person has suffered from the same thing at one point or another. Just this morning I couldn’t recall my landlord’s name. I’ve been writing this guy substantial sized checks for 8 years now, but in spite of that I completely blanked on his name for about an hour.

I don’t think any less of Perry for this, but I’m sure I’ll be in the minority. I don’t think you did the wrong thing either by basically pointing out what was clear for all to see. I don’t think Perry is done, not at all, but you can expect to see the “just another idiot from Texas” meme being trotted out pretty soon.

    Red4Liberty in reply to abenson229. | November 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I don’t think you or I am in the minority by thinking his brain freeze is not the big deal folks are making it out to be. The big mouths got out there first with their “funny, clever, witty” tweets and blogs, but cooler heads will prevail.

The reason I think this goes beyond a small gaffe, Professor, is that Perry already has proven he is very weak in debates and speaking off the cuff. If this were to have occurred in a debate with Obama, this would have been devastating for our chances to remove the Once in 2012. He needed to improve rapidly in the debate format to show that he merited backing in the primary; none of the other contenders have shown themselves so weak in this format. He failed, and that is why this event marks the end of his candidacy.

Perry’s own worst enemy was himself. This is a Darwinian Primary Cycle: Only the fittest will survive. It is a shame that a man with such potential has failed so swiftly, but this culling of the weak candidates is an important part of the primary process.

This is a process, but the person who prevails will have been steeled and vetted so that they can be in the best possible shape to challenge Obama. This is a good thing.

    spartan in reply to Mutnodjmet. | November 10, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Here is prima facie evidence of epistemic closure.

    BTW, did you ever watch the entire Perry speech in NH or did your watch the snippets which made him appear drunk or are you merely repeating what you have been told?

      Mutnodjmet in reply to spartan. | November 10, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      spartan: Actually, I did take the time to watch the full speech — and my comment still stands. Any serious candidate realizes going in that the debates are a critical part of the overall process.

      Frankly, no one “told me” to hold this opinion. Sorry you do not like it, but it seems that a lot of people I respect — including the owner of this site — view the incident in the same way. Wild and baseless accusations are not going to help Perry’s cause.

        spartan in reply to Mutnodjmet. | November 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm

        I did not mean to single you out but if you truly watched Perry’s unedited NH speech, you would not be making the Perry “is very weak in debates and speaking off the cuff” observation. Frankly, yours is probably the first opinion (from conservatives)I have read/heard where his speech was not praised.

        Now, if you want to damn Perry because you never cared for him or his policies, fine, but be transparent. I have no problem with that. I have a big problem with folks claiming indifference and shifting their views where candidates like Perry will never earn their support. That might be something worse than epistemic closure.

Well, I assume by the comments (excuses) and inexcusable contrasts on this site that this a primarily conservative blog. With that being said, I will try to express my opinion gently.

Rick Perry should remove himself from the race, better yet, he should eradicate his entire political existence. Perry is nothing, but a salesman – and a terrible one at that. His entire political career has been sated with graft and corruption. Can you imagine the type of shenanigans he would bring to the white house? All of his plans as governor of Texas have been marked by under the table deals with businessmen, oil tycoons, and other political representatives. The man is a marionette and his puppetteers are the private investors that fund his campaign. How could someone with a 2.5 GPA from Texas A&M have made it this far along in his career. Are we ready to get behind him as a national leader, and say “Yes, I will follow you off a mountain cliff,” because that is surely where he will take us.

20% Flat tax, are you serious? How could this possibly help revive the economy. “I don’t have the facts to back this up,” as Cain would say, but isn’t a 20% tax lower than any of the possible tax rates we have now with the exception of those near the poverty line. If it’s not, it certainly is close. How can he possibly expect to recoup the losses we’ve made over the past decade through a less harsh tax than what we currently have? Let’s not also forget that this 20% tax rate is going to screw those who are living at or below the poverty line. It seems that Perry’s campaign has turned a complex issue into a shiny new toy (made in China), hoping that he can attract enough oblivious Americans that he can slither his way into the white house.

    Red4Liberty in reply to juju_beans. | November 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I think you should remove yourself from this blog, better yet, you should eradicate your entire internet existence. You are nothing, but a sad lib – and a terrible one at that.

    Perhaps you should get your head out of your nether region and read the Perry, Cain or Romney plans. You clearly don’t understand the economy, nor our tax system. Find a book, preferably one about Reagan, and get a clue!!

      juju_beans in reply to Red4Liberty. | November 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks for your insightful post. I think I’ll stick around. I love baseless insults. If you don’t think I understand the plan, then lay it out for me. Just briefly. Argue against my points like a reasonably intelligent individual.

      Yes, Reagan lowered tax rates, and was able to revive a stagnant economy, but let’s be honest, he wasn’t dealing with a multi-trillion dollar deficit. Furthermore, it was his unshackling of the regulatory system that fomented the wallstreet greed machine that we’re battling today. This may seems a stretch to conservative minds, but wasn’t it during his reign as president that we began to see the emergence of credit, or debt by instrument. It was a novel idea at the time, but it can easily be said that an economy fueled by the emergence of credit would pop a false-positive. We are just now finally paying the price for Reagan’s liberating reform.

      I expect more from a Republican advocate.

        Red4Liberty in reply to juju_beans. | November 10, 2011 at 12:56 pm

        Don’t worry juju_beans, I wasn’t really telling you to go. Just playing off your baseless insults on Perry (re-read your original post in case you missed it). I think he should “stick around” too. Sorry Obama’s multi-trillion dollar deficits gotcha down, but we will rectify that next year. I hope your tent is clean!

For what it’s worth, I saw the “52 Seconds” headline on Drudge first thing this morning, clicked on it. Watched the video, and muttered, “It’s over.”

The good Professor seems to be leaning toward Newt of late, so accusations that he’s in the tank for Cain fall flat. Perry showed up to the race with a dead battery, and has been trying to jump start his campaign while the others circle the track. Those 52 seconds were awkward to watch, and his “Oops” comment at the end was the exclamation point to it all.

The thing that struck me most is the insincerity of being passionately against three departments to the point that Perry wants to disband them. The seriousness of that action warrants the ability to identify which three they are. We’ve all had brain farts, and 99.9% of us don’t have them in front of a camera, but the impression that Perry’s gaffe left is damaging. Can he overcome it? He hasn’t appeared able to pull that off yet.

Professor, do not let people get to you criticizing your reporting. You have been fair and impartial every post you have written IMHO. Einstein said: Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

I really wanted Perry to do well from the moment he entered the race. The expectations were sky high and he has never come close to meeting them in the public’s eyes.

I still like him. To me, he seems like perhaps the nicest and most decent person on the stage. I’m sure he’s competent and that he’d make a much better president than Obama.

That being said, there is no comparison between a campaign manager making a flub that will soon be forgotten and a candidate caught on video having one of the most agonizing moments in memory … one that will be etched in peoples’ minds with the help of the MSM.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, video is worth a MSM narrative.

We have to convince independents. Perry is commiting too many unforced errors. I’m not counting him out, but he can’t afford another moment like that.

And Cain is starting to sound like a one-trick pony. He has to give the 9-9-9 a rest … it’s starting to grate.

Romney looked good and polished. Newt was superb. He has created a new paradigm of effentively counter-punching the media. He would destroy Obama in a debate.

Cain’s Campaign-Manager-Problem is worse than you think. Block played very fast-and-loose with campaign-finance rules; this will involve the IRS and the FEC. Not huge money, but not just a ‘technical’ violation.

Professor, don’t let the trolls and Perrykrishnas (thanks to Michelle Malkin and John Nolte for the new term – and Twitter, of course).

Those who take such a slanted view of your blog posts seem to have it as their mission to take any who live in RealVille and remember the 2008 election, or don’t favor their candidate, to task. Apparently, my comment on your prior blog entry tweaked a few, too.

I agree that Republicans and Conservatives should NOT “eat their own.” However, commenting about gathering facts before leaping to conclusions and observing what occurred on a live broadcast is NOT doing that. It is merely opening up discussion of reality – making observations, giving a (typical legal) perspective on issues, looking for respectful debate. The American political process as it should be, IMHO.

You call ’em as you see ’em. That is all we ask, or expect.

You are doing a superb job! Keep up the great work! 😀

    Red4Liberty in reply to DINORightMarie. | November 10, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I saw that term on Malkin’s site as well and got a chuckle. I like him, but I don’t worship him. I like many of the other candidates too. I’m not on the Cain Train either, but I think a relentless media is unfairly attacking him. I too was calling ‘em like I saw ‘em. I didn’t think the brain freeze was a big deal. I didn’t hyperventilate over it. I think everyone here (for the most part) is just offering their opinions just like you ask we afford you. It’s a fact that he had a brain freeze; it’s how we analyze that information where opinion steps in. Oh and what’s with the “legal” perspective on this issue? Are you charging Perry with a crime? I thought we were just having a respectful debate.

    BTW, your first sentence was incomplete. What were you going to tell the professor not to let the “trolls and Perrykrishnas” say or do? Have an opinion? I think you should try to follow your own advice.

How’s this? Wasn’t even a debate. Had the stage all to himself. And now…he’s POTUS:

I am really shocked at the overreaction from many people on the infamous Perry Brain Freeeze. I was watching this on DVR about 20 minutes behind the live feed while reading real-time Twitter comments from the so-called conservatives I follow. Everyone was saying, “it’s over, pack it up.” I was cringing with what I would see when that part came up. I couldn’t wait, so I forwarded the 20 minutes and waited for the Biggest Gaffe Eva!!! It didn’t happen in my eyes. He did fine the whole debate and even in the answer leading up to the freeze. He knew the answer, he just lost the words. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. I know, you and I aren’t running for president and Perry should be held to higher standards. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda. Talk about hypercritical. At least he doesn’t look wide-eyed and clueless when asked about the Palestinian right of return or agree to exchange all the GITMO terrorists for 1 US soldier (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then perhaps you should pay more attention to the candidates). I will take a brain freeze over Obama lies any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I like Perry, but I am still undecided. I am certainly not going to hyperventilate over this issue in my continued evaluation of the candidates.

Thanks, Professor, for posting the Bush clip. Sort of leaves egg on Sabato’s face. Though experts, like candidates, can’t remember everything, they do have leisure to look things up.

It also puts in perspective how unimportant debate performance is to election success. Would you not say that Bush’s performance was even more “brutal” than Perry’s? At least Perry was smiling and could name two departments. 😉

The problem is not so much that he choked over trying to formulate the answer to his question, the problem is that he choked on a pretty signficant piece of his policy. “I’m going to elimnate 3 departments…” Good, now you should have those 3 departments down to a point, written down on a notecard. It’s only 3!
GWB looked stupid in the linked video, I won’t deny that but he was asked a multifaceted question and blanked trying to find the starting off point. Perry was already off and forgot his only policy point.
Let’s face it, debates are little more than soundbites right now, you’re telling me Perry didn’t have this thing written down right in front of him? Then he’s failing as a candidate, sucks for him.

I dont think you are Professor. Its one thing to defend against innuendo – which is correct. Its another to analyze mistakes – this is one – and decide what to make of them.

I do think in analyzing mistakes by “our own” we should have a way of discussing that doesn’t create opposition quotes, but that doesn’t mean kid gloves either. If we are gonna get better, we have to be honest … and then circle the wagons and start the counter narrative 🙂

As for the mistake itself, the damage isn’t the gaffe. It happened early enough that it would be no big deal in the main, no matter how much it was spun. In and of itself, not as bad now as it would be in say October, 2012 and not campaign ending.

The damage is that it strengthens the narrative that Perry isn’t good on his feet at articulating his policy, including in debates. And it hardens the perception among undecideds that this will happen again … and again … and in front of Obama on stage. And hardens the perception that he got in late and unprepared, that he is a more of a lightweight, and that he has a lot of vulnerabilities versus all that initial momentum he had.

Fair, no. But its not helping.

I like him, and will support him 100% if he gets the nomination.

I am also undecided, and these guys are not making it easy for a “Not Mittens” voter to decide.

    Red4Liberty in reply to PrincetonAl. | November 10, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I am a non-mitten’s voter too and I agree with your post 100%. His brain freeze was not the end of the world (or his campaign), but a lot of people sure do want to stick a fork in him. Perry seems like a good guy as do many of the other folks on stage, so I am not going to hyperventilate over this mole hill everyone wants to make into a mountain.

Although I no longer think Perry is certainly finished as I did last night, the moment was still damaging. Not so much for a moment of forgetfulness, but because it continued the pattern with Perry and his debate performances, and exemplified the worries some have with him. We need someone who can clearly articulate conservatism and just as importantly confront the endless media spin that will be thrown our way. I like the way Perry and his team have handled this so far today, so maybe’s there’s still hope he can be that candidate, but he’s running out of time.

How can you have faith in a man, who doesn’t even seem to have faith in himself. You have to ask yourself, if you truly believe in your plan, then why would you continually stumble all over yourself throughout debates. Yes, I’ve had a momentary memory lapse before, but not when I have a deck of notecards in front of me to keep me on task. If he was truly passionate about his proposals, he should have continued past the memory gap and just spoke on the essence of his ideas. the fact that he couldn’t remember some factoid from his proposal wasn’t the big deal, it was his pathetic reaction to this gaffe. It was like somebody forgot to type in the lines to a tele-prompter. And as we all know, this is not his first contretemps in front of the camera. What about the strange behavior he displayed during his speech a few weeks ago. It was the one where he seemed excessively animated and sweating profusely. Is he a drunk or a buffoon?

    Two brief points: Did you watch the edited video or the full video? Did you see all the applause and ovation he got?

    Next: have you seen him outside the debates? Or are you judging him solely on the debates?

    Last: your repeating the “drunk or high” canard, yet another smear from the Left, does not reflect well on either your judgment or your intentions.

It’s not Perry’s gaffe that bothers me. It’s what we have become as voters. Why are these useless debates even important? Who made it that way? Why did they even start?

The very first televised debate was between JFK and Nixon. JFK’s campaign wanted it. They knew what the result would be. An extremely handsome man, young with a Boston Brahmain accent, standing tall as a war hero in a nation with WWII still fresh in their minds, in contrast with an aging politician, would give a fabulous visual. And so it did. And Americans decided they no longer had to do their homework in order to choose a candidate, but could rely on those images once only available to them at the movie theaters.

And so America elected John F. Kennedy. Unfortunately, we learned that Kennedy was not the shining hero he was portrayed as. The Russian prime minister proved Kennedy to be a green horn and easily intimidated. Thirteen days, in particular, threw this nation into a panic as we faced a nuclear war. We learned that a sympathetic press protected John Kennedy from a personal life that was rife with scandal and that for much of his administration he was hopped up on drugs and pain killers. Anyone remember Dr. FeelGood?

I have to wonder how any of the presidents that we consider to be the “Greats” would stand up to this kind of scrutiny. Would Jefferson, with his weak voice, and his shyness, have been ridiculed?

We have now moved into the American Idol age completely. We judge candidates on how well they give prepared talking points, not on their history or their record. Perhaps in the future, we will just sit with our cell phones and text our vote. Dial 12345 for Candidate X, 54321 for Candidate Y.

The debates now seem to be judged by how well the debaters do, giving kudos to the senior who has been debating for almost five years, and finding fault with the freshman who just joined the debate team. As the good professor; practice does make perfect, but it cannot change the record. It is those records, or lack of them, that we ignore at our own peril.

I did not watch the debate. I am not interested how how any of the candidates repond to a bunch of self-serving so-called journalists who are simply trying to gain a “gotcha.” I have turned off Fox and CNN because I do not want to listen to a bunch of talking heads (especially Fox lately) who either make excuses for, or ignore the record of the person they support. They are not like me. They don’t face the problem of an ever shinking budget due to the rise in the cost of goods. They can afford higher taxes, I can’t. They will not be affected by the rulings of the TSA as they travel on private jets, I will be. They have not buried friends because the federal government will not seal the borders against those who harm us, I have.

My disappointment is not in the debates as I tend to belive that the standards are exceptionally high (too high) but in the electorate.

    Cassandra Lite in reply to retire05. | November 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Aging politician? Nixon was about three years older than JFK, and though he’d been born a Quaker could’ve therefore gotten a deferment, he insisted on getting into the war effort. He became a naval officer and was decorated, though I don’t think he saw any action (not for lack of trying). He and JFK were both congressional freshmen in 1946 and…friends. It was Nixon who’d had the hardscrabble deprived childhood, not JFK. Should’ve been a good story to tell, but the press hated him for his anti-communist activities (and truly hideous name calling of Helen Gahagan Douglas).

    Owen J in reply to retire05. | November 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I will a shade to your point. I do not believe, in the American Idol World, that people judge much at all. They accept the judgments of the self-appointed judges, in what we used to call (in a different context) intellectual phase-locking.

    I have seen sign of this in many blogs, even allowing for the cranks repeating talking points in an attempt to score points. Pundits will express some opinion and soon after people are claiming it for their own and expressing it as their judgement, even tho the context of their espression shows clearly they have no idea what they are talking about or why they think what they profess.

    It is this vapid willingness to be indoctrinated that really worries me (see OWS). I try to comfort myself that maybe it’s mainly an internet thing.

the only thing that matters.
you pay the bills…you get to write what you want how you want.
those that don’t like it can pay the server fees and (for some CMS’) license fees and start their own.

IMO you’ve been fair to everyone.

I don’t want a debater-in-chief. I want someone whose policies will lead to jobs, less spending, smaller government, and Conservative judges on the Supreme Court.
The teleprompter-in-chief tells articluate lies and the American people know that. Perrys energy plan and his flat tax are more acceptable to me than other GOP candidates plans, so he is still my first choice. If we base our votes solely on debates then we would never have had Calvin Coolidge as President, who I happen to think was one of our best Presidents ever. Remeber that the Presidency is not 30 second sound bite debates between the President and world leaders, Perry does fine one on one and in interviews. I have frozen up before while giving a speech and yes, it was cringeworthy, but Perry didn’t stand up and say he “misspoke” he took the blast that came at him from the MSM. I am willing to give him a second chance, as up until now Newt has made a habit of wandering off the Conservative path many times to reach out to the other side of the aisle. Newt’s rhetoric is much stronger than his past actions, I don’t want a debater-in-chief, I want a Conservative.

    juju_beans in reply to damocles. | November 10, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    But, isn’t debate half of what president’s spend their time doing. doesn’t it make sense to have someone who can defend their points cogently and articulately to a skeptical cast of politicians, executives, global leaders, and the like.

    With the political climate of late, it seems like a debater-in-chief is exactly what this country needs if we expect to moderate the rancor of skeptics.

      Not in the sense of these “debates”. Presidents may persuade and argue and even haggle, and Perry’s record as gov of TX shows he is pretty adept at that.

      They don’t sit down with a hostile moderator and the PM of “bekibekibei-stan” and trade sound bites.

      Allow free enterpirse to create jobs, start to get the deficit under control, and shore up our foreign policy and the skeptics will become a lot less rancorous all by themselves.

      Those that do not will likely still be camped out in a park in Oakland, which is welcome to them.

      spartan in reply to juju_beans. | November 10, 2011 at 7:04 pm

      juju_beans | November 10, 2011 at 2:42 pm
      But, isn’t debate half of what president’s spend their time doing. doesn’t it make sense to have someone who can defend their points cogently and articulately to a skeptical cast of politicians, executives, global leaders, and the like.

      With the political climate of late, it seems like a debater-in-chief is exactly what this country needs if we expect to moderate the rancor of skeptics.

      Do you honestly believe Obama spends half his time debating? Between the hectoring and the lecturing, where does he find the time?
      Debates are for show. I don’t really care to have a show horse for president. I do want someone with executive experience and a sense of leadership. Someone who will work for all the people. Rush Limbaugh would make a great debater but in all likelihood a horrible executive. Is that what you really want?

I am not so much interested in whether Perry is an expert debater as I am in his record of governing. Texas is enjoying an upbeat economy othoer states are not and that’s what I want for the country. None of these other candidates can claim this. The media did to Perry what it did to Palin. They completely ignored their outstanding records of governing and only reported mistakes in speeches or in Palin’s case, speeches made by others in her name like Tina Fey. Perry is in his third term as governor of Texas and he must be doing something right. About the Guardisil matter. Did’t this pass the Texas legislature?What was he supposed to do…veto it? That would have caused a storm. The electorate has a bad habit of judging candidates on what they say in speeches or how they look or what color they are. They need to look only at their records and vote according to that.This is why I do not support Cain…he has no records. We (using the broad we since I did not vote for obama)elected a man with no record and I sincerely hope we don’t make that mistake again. I do not want another president in training in the WH.

Prof. Jacobson,

Thanks for posting my email and answering the question. However, I’m puzzled by this statement: “I think there’s a big difference between making a mountain out of a campaign manager’s mole hill (Mark Block wrongly stating that someone worked at Politico) and pointing out a disaster which befell a candidate…” [my emphasis]

Now clearly, and as you acknowledge in an early post, the management mistakes made by Cain and his campaign are more serious and of much longer standing than this single incident. So we are talking about much more than making a mountain out of that particular mole hill.

You also, in acknowledging these multiple problems, questioned whether the hyberbolic language being used in consequence was justified. This was an excellent question and the sense of your post was to attempt to calm the rhetoric.

I believe it is fair to say that your veiw was that is is perfectly acceptable to report, discuss, and criticise Cain for his management failures but the hyberbolic reaction was unwarranted and not helpful; a sentiment I heartily endorse.

But this stands in contrast to your treatment of Perry’s lapse. Of this is being widely said — and you are repeating — rather hyperbolic or dire pronouncements: you use the word “disaster” in your reply, and quote another “fairly neutral” source saying “the worst” and much more in this same line.

But I do not hear anywhere the same question if such an extreme reaction is jsutified; no counsel to perhaps take a step back and consider if the rhetoric is in this case, as it you seemed to think it was in Cain’s, is also unwarranted and unhelpful.

I am further obliged to point out that you have on more than one occassion, spoken of “facts”. But you offered in support this: “Relatively neutral observers saw it for what it was…”

But that tweet is not a fact — it is a subjective opinion, expressed in absolute terms: “The most devastating of any…” Clearly such an absolute statement cannot be a fact; cannot be what “it was”. What it was, was a lapse. The severity thereof is mere opinion.

It is a fact that many observers subjectively feel that the lapse was, in regards to Perry’s suitability as a candidate, sufficiently bad to deserve (or have other motivations for) characterizing it in extreme terms; but it is also a fact that other observers disagree.

It would seem clear from your answer that your subjective judgment accords with those who describe the lapse in hyperbolic and absolute terms. With respect to Cain, you were in the opposite case.

Thus the issue of reporting, overwhelmingly, the opinions of those who agree with you, and equating what the incident was with your subjective opinion of it, takes on an odor of piling on.

That is why I asked the original question.

Your answer would seem to be that “piling on” is in this case merely a reasoned and reasonable response to what you characterize as a “disaster”, whereas Cain’s mismanagement is — setting aside your molehill comment in favor of your previous post — not a disaster, but merely a recoverable issue for which we should cut Mr. Cain some slack.

If that is a fair statement of your views, allow me clarify a point:

It would appear that in all sober earnest and upon careful reflection, you believe that Perry’s lapse compounded by his other problems in a debate format that has been widely disparaged (a view you seem to share) is a singular disqualifying characteristic that trumps his positions, his experience, and all his other appearances and statements, but that Cain’s on-going mismanagement of his campaign is trumped by his lack of experience, his positions, and his debate performances.

And more to this, Cain’s poor showing (according to you) in his debate with Newt is of little moment because, perhaps, it was not seen by a wide enough audience.

To sum up, Perry’s few minutes of performing poorly in a few widely reviled “debates” wipes out 10 years of relevent executive experience successfully governing one of the largest and most complex states in the US (rivaled only by California), while Cain’s performance in said “debates” excuses his failures to properly manage his own campaign.

If that is the case, is it not true that you have just resoundingly endorsed the triumph of style over substance?

And if so, do you truly believe and can you support that this the proper way to choose our nominee?

If you disagree, I ask the favor an explanation.

If you favor Cain over Perry on substantive grounds (e.g. based on their experience and policy positions), may I ask why has this made up so little of your discourse?

Once again, allow me to thank you for your reply and for providing this forum. If I did not think your commentary valuble, I would not invest the time to raise these issues.

    Red4Liberty in reply to Owen J. | November 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Very well put! I agree with your reasoning and hope you get a thorough response from the professor.

    retire05 in reply to Owen J. | November 10, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Owen J, somehow I don’t see you getting an answer to your comprehensive post and the questions you posed. But I hope you do. But I would add this:

    with every candidate that is standing on that stage, I can research their records. I can go to and see what bills Rick Santorum authored. I can see how he voted and the same applies to Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich. I can spend time learning about the governorships of John Huntsman, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and see how their state did under their stewardship.

    So I would also like the good professor to answer this question:

    What is there in Herman Cain’s history that tells you how he will govern?

Larry Sabato is a liberal. He likes to appear apolitical but he is not. He has made some predictions and opinions in the past in favor of dims that were meant to influence the electorate.I tune him out as soon as I see give any opinions or predictions from him. They are all false. Believing him is like believing anything James Carville says about republicans.

I’ll tell you one thing Cain’s flubs in the debates and in answering the media have far out distanced Perry’s occasional flubs in these debates. I still do not understand why republicans allow liberals to moderate these debates. Common sense would tell you that they are looking for ways to bring down our candidates. They support obama and want the weakest candidtate for our side to run against him..

2nd Ammendment Mother | November 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Yep, it was a boffo and a pretty funny one at that. Here’s the interesting thing that I think everyone has missed and that’s how not only he handled it, but the other candidates standing beside him. Talk about distinguishing himself from Obama.

Right off the bat, both Paul and Romney immediately gave him a hand which said much for them. In the moment, Perry was able to laugh at himself and acknowledge his own shortcoming. More importantly he immediately made himself available for the media flogging – not his staff. Then, he put himself out there this morning to any and every network that wanted to interview him. The ones I watched were pretty good considering the number of reporters that were declaring him toast to his face. He’s also posted a link to have fun with the gaffe which has scored 200,000 hits this morning on ‘What part of the federal government would you like to forget about the most?’. In short, he’s handling it pretty well considering the number of people who have declared him dead.

Contrast that to Obama who has greeted world leaders by the wrong name, had the Dali Lama use the side door, and claimed to have hosted a deceased Medal of Honor winner at the White House. He holds the 2009, 10, and 11 “Blame Game” world title, knocking down strawmen when he can’t find a way to bring up Bush. He’s not a team player, even with his own team. Even his allies consider him thin skinned, petulant and combative. He has no skill in reaching out to his opponents. He never acknowledges his mistakes or gaffes and it’s rumored that he frequently reams the White House staff for them. (Daley is leaving for a very good reason). I won’t even stoop to making fun of his campaign’s most recent social outreach efforts and how far they have backfired – last week the White House issued a statement on whether aliens have visited Earth and it was dry as dirty and lacked any kind of humor or even some type of lofty statement on what that event might be like someday.

IMHO – last night’s bump was the illustration between flesh and blood humans and a stuffed shirt, arrogant, blank slate.

Ignore the Perrywinkles Professor.

They hate Obama.
They despise Romney.
Cain they say is ignorant.
Paul is too old.
Newt is too wonky and establishment.
Bachmann’s a nutcase.
Santorum couldn’t get voted in at a fat camp and he had all the doughnuts.

Perry is/was there only hope and they won’t give him up and ANYONE who aids and abets his implosion is guilty of heresy!!!

(disclosure, I was a Perry fan also until he stepped on himself. Oh and told me I was heartless. I was grief stricken too that my supposed savior was a moron.)

They’ll get over it by Nov ’12

    Owen J in reply to jakee308. | November 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I suspect that comment is meant to be satirical, but you know, I was originaly quite dubious about Perry, know little abiut him, the single most important thing in my decision to take a serious look at him was his “heartless” comment.

    That comment convinced me he was head-and-shoulders over Romney both as a leader and as person. I still had hopes for Palin at the time, but that comment gave me a lot of new respect for him.

Some of these candidates are circling the bowl at this point. Does anyone really think there’s going to be a wild surge of interest for Huntsman, Bachman, Santorum or Johnson? They are taking time away from the candidates who could actually win: Romney, Paul, Gingrich, Cain, and Perry. And Cain and Perry need to come on strong to stay with the pack.