The Corner

On Liberals’ Love of Republicans, and Rick Perry

Some of my right-wing friends complain frequently about how liberals lionize conservatives as impressive and reasonable . . . once those particular conservatives are safely dead. For example, few liberals had anything nice to say about Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan when these two luminaries were at the height of their careers; but they are now often held up by liberals as paragons compared to the right-wingers of today. (Of course, it goes in the other direction too. Reagan, during his presidency, would occasionally quote from the wisdom of President Kennedy. Back in 1961? Not so much.) So the obvious question, moving forward, is: When will the lefties start praising George W. Bush, in contrast to “the Republicans of today”?

It turns out we didn’t have to wait long at all. On MSNBC’s Ed Show tonight, the discussion turned to Rick Perry, and guess what? Bill Press said Perry was “Bush without a brain,” and Lizz Winstead called Perry “a dollar-store Bush.” Ah, for the good old days of that upscale, intellectually respectable Republican, George W. Bush! He’s been out of office barely two and a half years . . .

As for Perry, I recommend Kevin Williamson’s marvelous profile of him that appeared in NR earlier this year: The man in the profile is intelligent and qualified. After reading that article, I heard Perry speaking on TV, and I have to agree with Chris Matthews: He does sound like someone doing a Saturday Night Live impression of Bush. But I actually don’t think this is as much of a negative as most political commentators seem to think. America is in such awful shape that I think the American people will be smart enough —  and desperate enough — to not care about that sort of unimportant, theater-critic issue. They voted in 2008 for an unqualified naïf simply because the guy sounded cool and rational and serious. To quote another potential candidate: “How’s that workin’ out for ya?” Or, to quote the 2008 winner’s inaugural address: Maybe it’s time for the American people “to set aside childish things.” 

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