Perry in the Crosshairs

by Jay Nordlinger

I devote a big chunk of my column today to Rick Perry, and I was talking about him last night with a Texas political hand. My friend says Perry must be amazed at how it has gone: He is under attack from the right. He entered the race as the Great Right Hope. The more conservative alternative to Romney. One of the questions about him was, “Is he just too conservative to appeal to the country at large?”

And the other candidates have painted him as a wetback-coddling squish. How odd. Rick Santorum is explaining that Perry is “weak on national sovereignty.”

Weak on national sovereignty? This right-wing, swaggering, chest-out governor? I hope I never want to be president so bad that I’m willing to say the things Santorum et al. are willing to say. There has to be a point at which simple self-respect kicks in.

Worse yet, the candidates have decided they need to trash Texas in order to defeat Perry. For years, conservative analysts such as those at NR have hailed Texas as a model — a state that can show the way to the other 49, a state that has been healthy while the country in general has been sick. This is the state where conservative policies have been implemented and proven to work.

Not only conservatives have made this point — The Economist had a cover too. (Do we rate them as conservative?)

But, by the time the Republican field gets done with it, Texas will be a hellhole, a place of desolation, despair, and want. Thanks a lot, guys. This is the conservative success story we’ve been holding up, and you’re determined to tear it down, not for the good of the country, but for your own political benefit. Swell.

Finally, can we drop this vaccination baloney, once and for all? The War on Terror has received a fraction of the attention that this relatively minor episode has received. Perry has said that he botched this one, and would do it differently, if he could. Must we spend a fourth debate on this question? Must we hear again how Governor Perry is the type to go after innocent little twelve-year-old girls with the giant government needle?

I quote Barry Goldwater: “Grow up, conservatives!”

Perry may not be the best man for the Republican nomination in 2012, but his opponents’ behavior is not doing them any credit. I know that “politics ain’t beanbag,” blah, blah, blah, but there is actually a way of campaigning, and campaigning aggressively, without throwing basic honesty out the window.

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