Texas Governor Rick Perry didn’t take long to establish himself as the leading presidential candidate of the know-nothings. Maybe he decided to hit the ground running with misinformed opinions to make up for the fact that his ignorance does not really clear new ground, but rather follows in the footsteps of the Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin.
Here are some of the ignorant remarks Texas Rick made last week, each delivered with his usual combative sense of self-assurance:
- Called Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke a traitor and intimated that Bernanke would be subject to a lynching in his state.
- Said all abortion should be illegal everywhere in U.S.
- Said that the existence of man-made global warming is not proven. His global warming comment came with a lie of Bachmann-like proportions: “And I think we are seeing almost weekly or even daily scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.” Don’t ask Texas Rick to name any of these scientists, though, since it’s a complete invention. Virtually all climatologists and other scientists believe that there is more than sufficient evidence to state without question that the earth is warming and humans are the primary factor.
- Said that the theory of evolution is unproven and has gaps, and that he believes in intelligent design. Again, the overwhelming evidence has convinced virtually all scientists that Darwin’s theory is correct and that intelligent design is not.
- Called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme,” which means that you pay early investors with the money collected by later investors. If you accept the definition of “Ponzi scheme” that Perry proposes by using it to describe the Social Security Trust Fund, then every defined benefit pension plan is a Ponzi scheme.
- Implied that working class and middle class people aren’t paying enough in taxes. His exact quote, “we’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax,” neglects the fact that the low- and middle-income people not paying income tax still pay payroll (Social Security and Medicare) taxes and that most of their incomes are at or close to poverty level.
- Defended abstinence only sex education, which every reputable study on the subject has found to be ineffective in decreasing HIV infections and does not decrease rates of unplanned pregnancies. By the way, sex education that includes contraception does reduce HIV infections and unplanned pregnancies.
These comments, all in the first week of Perry’s candidacy, remind me of that lunatic Governor—wait, wait, I’m blocking on the name—who a couple of years ago said that his state might want to exercise its legal right to secede from the union (even though such right does not exist). Oh yeah, it’s the same guy!
We also learned during the first week of his candidacy that making ignorant statements that go against the facts is not the only right-wing tradition that Texas Rick upholds. He also continues the long-line of hypocrites about sexual politics, like Larry “Wide Stance” Craig and Newt Gingrich. It turns out that the self-righteous, holier-than-thou Perry once owned stock in a video distributor known for selling hardcore porno tapes. And guess who spent years on an anti-porn campaign targeting the company? Surprise, surprise, surprise, it was the American Family Association, the ultra right-wing Christian organization that helped organize Texas Rick’s recent stadium prayer rally.
His smarmy porn investment aside, it’s clear that Perry is shouting out right-wing untruths and absurdities to attract the attention of the 25% of the country that buys into his fact-starved distrust of government, dislike of taxing the wealthy and eagerness to impose morality on others. He is telling Tea-Partiers and the Christian conservatives that he is the Knight of Faith who will win the White House for them. By doing so, I believe he hopes to solidify the ultra right’s support and thus win the nomination.
But the nomination is not the election.
I imagine that President Obama’s campaign staff broke out a few bottles of Dom Perignon when they heard that Perry was running. A candidate who wants to end abortion, dismantle Social Security (for future generations only), is ready to get the hangin’ rope for a mild-mannered and well-respected government official and is anti-science? This kind of religious know-nothing doesn’t have a chance with the general population. Texas Rick is expressing opinions so far to the right of the mainstream so often that even if the news media treat him with kid gloves, he is going to scare a lot of people into voting for President Obama.
Most elections are decided by turnout: which party gets more of his/her party’s stalwarts to vote. In Republican primaries, Perry will bring out the righteous right. But in a general election, I think he’s going to bring out the other side, those who will be so frightened by the prospects of eight years of a Bush II clone-without-tone that they’ll hold their noses and vote for the President despite disappointment at his accomplishments.