As September began, the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox were cruising to all-but-inevitable spots in the post-season. Today, after a month of some of the worst baseball by contending teams in MLB history, they are perilously close to going home early in what would be a pair of record-setting collapses.
Rick Perry can surely relate.
A month ago, the Texas governor was a formidable political figure. Within days of entering the GOP presidential race, he enjoyed double-digit leads in the polls, a growing campaign treasury and the enthusiastic backing of a Republican base excited to have a viable alternative to Mitt Romney.
“If (Rick) Perry can prove that he can perform on the national stage,” I wrote in late August, “the nomination is all but his and there’s nothing Romney can do about it.”
But Perry has done the opposite. In a series of debate performances, each one worse than the previous, he has performed terribly on the national stage. He has exposed himself as a man who doesn’t know much and doesn’t even know that he doesn’t know much. In fact, we haven’t seen a political crash-and-burn this spectacular since the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska swapped reading lists with Katie Couric.
As that great political strategist Yogi Berra once observed, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. Like the Braves and Red Sox, Perry still has hope. But so far he shows no sign that his fumbling performance is anything but a permanent state of affairs. In fact, watching a smiling Romney play with Perry in the last two debates has been like watching a cat toying with a very frightened, confused mouse.
Unless that changes, the 2012 Republican standard bearer looks to be the man who created the model for ObamaCare, who believes that mankind contributes significantly to global warming, who opposes the teaching of creationism and who signed a state law banning assault weapons, noting that “these guns are not made for recreation or self-defense; they are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.”
As for Perry? Well, as Yogi also noted, “the future ain’t what it used to be.”
– Jay Bookman