His presidential campaign surely hasn’t gone the way Rick Perry thought it would go when he made a late entry into the GOP nominating contest. It surely hasn’t gone the way his supporters, who donated some $17 million to his campaign in just seven weeks, thought it would go. The Texas governor almost immediately surged to the top of the polls, but a series of poor debate performances sent him on what has been a steady and unending slide.
Still, few moments during his decline could have felt as painful as the 45 seconds or so in which he drew a blank while trying to name the third federal agency he would abolish if elected president:
I’ve speculated before that the thought of watching the oft-tongue-tied Perry try to debate President Obama must give Republican big-wigs the heebie jeebies. And one might read into his forgetful moment a lack of seriousness about his very own plan, or some such. (It doesn’t help that the agency he forgot was Energy, and that he’s spent the past couple of months talking up his energy plan.)
But for anyone who’s done much talking on their feet in public, or who simply knows what it feels like to lose your train of thought — and there’s a reason we have such a well-known metaphor for the feeling — it was a pity-inducing moment. While cringing, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Perry. It made a Texas-sized politician look like an ordinary human being.
Not that it was the kind of pitiful, sympathy-inducing, human moment that gets someone elected president. Perry’s still toast — although he was burning long before the word “energy” escaped him.
But if you didn’t feel a little sorry for the guy, then, as Perry once said about those who disagreed with him about a particular topic, you don’t have a heart.
– By Kyle Wingfield