Take Five (Uh… Yeah edition)

ONE: Gaffe Riot

As his campaign careens toward Iowa, Rick Perry continues to astound audiences with his comprehensive knowledge of nothing and his uncanny inability to open his mouth without saying something ridiculous. As Perry staggers, stumbles, slips, skates and slides, gaffe by gaffe, from presumptive nominee to predictable punch line, it’s increasingly nerve-wracking to hear the gears grinding in his head whenever he speaks.

The candidate ended November by pleading with a young crowd in New Hampshire to vote for him next year if they will be at least 21, apparently ceding the 18-20 demographic to his rivals without a fight. He also asked that they cast their votes on November 12, 2012, a bold but ill-advised strategy, since that will be six days after the election.

The next day, he told Fox News about his preparations for the New Hampshire caucuses, but New Hampshire, of course, has a primary, and I suspect Rick Perry won’t be cleaning up in it, not least because he’s too busy preparing for non-existent caucuses.

Easing into December, the candidate criticized the Supreme Court’s “eight unelected and frankly unaccountable judges” and referred to one of them as “Montemayor” in an interview with the long-suffering editorial board at the Des Moines Register.

For further reading, The Daily Beast has helpfully catalogued some of Perry’s most noteworthy gaffes. They don’t list them all, of course – very few sites have that much server capacity – but it’s instructive to review the list and reflect on the notion that Perry was initially considered the savior of his party’s sweaty quest to take back the White House.

Perry discussed his penchant for pratfalls with the Fox and Friends team in some detail:

“Look, I’m a human being; I’m going to make some mistakes from time to time in my remarks… but here’s how I look at these issues, generally speaking, over the course of my 10-plus years of being the governor of the state of Texas: When someone doesn’t want to talk about the substantive issues, when they don’t want to talk about the flat tax that I’ve laid out, when they don’t want to talk about a major overhaul of Washington, D.C., like going to a part-time Congress, which most of the states operate very well with, they want to find some little error that you made and go talk about that.”

What Perry doesn’t appreciate is that proposals like a flat tax and a part-time Congress are, in and of themselves, intellectual gaffes of the meanest order. Hell, even a lot of Republicans find these ideas ineffably silly, which is why they turned their lonely eyes first to Herman “I never met a woman I didn’t like” Cain, and, when that didn’t work out, to the enormous sentient gasbag that calls itself Newt Gingrich.

Perry’s best bet would be to pack his bags and return to Austin right now. After almost 17 years of being governed by George Walker Bush and Rick Perry, Texans are a little more forgiving of gaffes, verbal, intellectual and otherwise, than most Americans. Or at least more resigned to their inevitability.

TWO: Dumb, Dumber and Marginally Less Dumb

Last March Chris Matthews said something stupid. And of course he’s said thousands of stupid things since, but the March comment is in the news again because it led someone else to say something even more stupid.

Matthews had this to say about Newt Gingrich just before the former Speaker put a toe in the water for the GOP nomination:

“He looks like a car bomber, he looks like a car bomber … he looks like a car bomber,” Matthews said, interjecting when Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page suggested Gingrich might just have the stuff to win the Republican nomination.

Matthews continued: “He’s got that crazy Mephistophelian grin of his. He looks like he loves torturing. Look at the guy. This is not the face of a president.”

Uh… yeah. This inanity resurfaced Thursday when Mark Steyn, guest hosting on Fox News, aired the Matthews clip and asked Brent Bozell for a comment. Bozell was all too happy to oblige:

“How long do you think Sean Hannity’s show would last if four times in one sentence, he made a comment about, say, the President of the United States, and said that he looked like a skinny, ghetto crackhead?” Bozell wondered. “Which, by the way, you might want to say that Barack Obama does.”

Uh… yeah. You might also want to say that Bozell has the intellect of a horse tick, but you won’t, because you’re a smarter and better person than Brent Bozell. So is Mark Steyn, just barely, although he gamely tried to out-stupid Bozell by offering his own remarkably odd portrait of Gingrich:

… a “big, cuddly, slightly older Winnie the Pooh.”

Uh… yeah. Ten days to Iowa, folks. It’s only going to get worse from here…

THREE: “Pout, damned snot!”

Well, now those Republicans have gone and done it. They’ve driven Donald Trump right out of the party! The Republican turned Democrat turned Republican turned independent this week:

… he did so because he is “disgusted” with the way Republicans are handling matters in Washington, including the recent payroll tax cut deal. But the move also sets Trump up for a potential third-party run for president…

Trump has sought to reach out to the group, Americans Elect, an online, independent presidential nominating organization that has already made it on the ballot in several states, including California.

“Couple Donald Trump’s name recognition with his extraordinary wealth and Americans Elect truly becomes a viable force in determining who the next president will be,” Trump’s top political adviser Michael Cohen told ABC News.

Of course he’s only doing this to save face after being snubbed by all but two GOP candidates (Santorum and Gingrich) when it was announced that he would moderate a debate on December 27. Trump being Trump, he would never admit to having been made to look foolish, so he loudly made himself look even more foolish from behind this elaborate smokescreen:

“The Republican Party candidates are very concerned that sometime after the final episode of The Apprentice, on May 20th, when the equal time provisions are no longer applicable to me, I will announce my candidacy for President of the United States as an Independent and that, unless I conclusively agree not to run as an Independent, they will not agree to attend or be a part of the Newsmax debate scheduled for December 27, 2011. It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate. Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate. The American people are embarrassed by the gridlock currently taking place in Washington. I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again!

So now Trump has to continue the possible independent candidacy charade, at least until he can figure out some other way to keep his name in the headlines. That’ll take about a week, I reckon. Continue reading Take Five (Uh… Yeah edition)