To some degree, we have all been where Rick Perry was last night. I once had a 6 a.m. appearance on NPR where I simply couldn’t wake up and struggled to put together a coherent sentence about a lawsuit that I had personally litigated. A blogger wrote about my appearance, “Funny, Shannen Coffin is amazingly inarticulate,” a sentiment with which I could not argue in that particular case. And it seems that, the more distractions I have in life, the more I forget mid-sentence what I was about to say. The line between brain and mouth is often off the hook, and it is especially terrifying when you’re doing a public appearance.
But Perry did more than simply forget what he was going to say. He forgot his own briefing book. Energy policy has been a significant part of his campaign — often the standby answer to anything relating to the economy. But he could not remember that he had proposed to eliminate the Department of Energy. Maybe it really was just a case of mental distraction, but it strikes me as a heck of a lot more damaging than simply forgetting what you’re going to say. Perry has proved, again, that his preparation for these debates is inadequate. And “it’s just a debate” doesn’t seem like an adequate response.