Over at The New Republic, my liberal pal Walter Shapiro has set the fox among the chickens with a semi-puckish piece provocatively entitled, “Rick Perry: The God-Fearing, Know-Nothing, Pistol-Packing Embodiment of Liberals’ Worst Nightmares,” which Lucianne made a Must-Read yesterday. A sample:
It is almost as if Perry’s political persona was constructed by bundling together all the fears and phantoms in the left-wing anxiety closet. Since the hysteria of the 1950s Red Scare, no Republican figure has matched Perry in his God-given ability to give liberals the heebie-jeebies. Others can rival the governor’s disdain for academic achievement (Palin), his cross-on-the-sleeve religiosity (Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee), and his antipathy to Social Security and Medicare (Paul Ryan and Barry Goldwater). But never before has a top-tier presidential candidate embodied the whole lethal package—and more:
Shapiro goes on to list the things about Perry that most drive liberals nuts, including “anti-intellectualism,” the “God card,” the “living Constitution” (“Perry stands out for his creative cut-and-paste approach to the Constitution”), the “pistol-packing president,” and “daring to call it treason.”
His point, of course, is not only to whack Perry for his (by liberal standards) “extreme” positions, but to gore the Left as well for, among other things, its education fetish, its mortal fear of genuine religious belief, and its abject terror in the face of the inanimate objects we like to call firearms.
Of course, what most liberals don’t realize is, to us these things aren’t bugs — they’re features of a possible Perry presidency. Any prez who would pack heat while jogging with his dog and blow away a varmint or two is okay in our book. Sure beats cowering before a killer rabbit, Carter-style.
Walter obliquely makes an even more important point: that the coming election is likely to be a stark choice between Ivy League credentialism and a form of prairie populism. And that, of course, is precisely what the next election must be about.
Many of my lefty buddies simply cannot conceive of a world in which an Aggie can whup up on a Harvard lad, and merrily call global warming a crock (but . . . it’s settled science!). People like Perry and Palin and Bachmann — hillbillies from flyover country or Outer Slobbovia — send them into towering rages of wounded and unappreciated virtue; never mind that their “virtues” are generally invisible to those of us in the reality-based community. After nearly three years of their pet policy prescriptions, we’ve had a belly full.
The kicker: It’s really all about Bush:
. . . whatever his underlying beliefs, Perry could give both Bachmann and Palin lessons in liberal baiting. The swagger and the bristling self-confidence suggest a political leader who is often wrong, but never in doubt. It is all so reminiscent of another wrong-way-Corrigan president. Intellectually, it is easy to remember the Texas-sized enmities that divide the Bushies and Perry. But emotionally, every time liberals hear that Perry twang and those dropped “g’s,” the instinct is to quake at stumbling into a horror-movie remake entitled, Mission Accomplished 2: Return to the White House.
Compared to what we’re living through now, that sequel sounds more like Gidget Goes Hawaiian II: This Time, It’s Personal.