Rick Perry, a real riot [The conversation]
Rick Perry announced Thursday that he was dropping out of the Republican presidential race, inspiring posts about his greatest gaffes, oops, blunders, mishits and dance moves. If nothing else, Perry has made for an entertaining day.
In celebration of the news, our editorial board writes:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is frequently compared to George W. Bush, a fellow Republican Texas governor who went on to serve two undistinguished terms as president of the United States. But that's a grave insult to Bush. Perry, who dropped out of the GOP presidential race Thursday, is far more divisive, inarticulate, insular and insensitive than Bush ever was, which is why his departure from the national political scene is good news for everybody but late-night comedians.
Here's what other opinionators are saying:
Rick Perry, one of the biggest, most embarrassing flops in the history of American presidential politics, has decided to call it quits two days before he would have come in dead last in the South Carolina primary. It was an overdue decision, really, and not one that will devastate many supporters, since there are few supporters left to devastate.
[P]erry joins Fred Thompson and Wesley Clark on the growing list of late entrants whose best days as a candidate were their first days as a candidate. Hopefully he will serve as a warning sign to future credible candidates who consider putting off their day of declaration.
But numbers aside, Perry is a bible thumping Conservative of the worst caliber. He doesn't believe in evolution, he wants inhumane restrictions on abortion, doesn't support civil rights for gay people, he brags about a death penalty that has killed innocent people, he wanted to re-invade Iraq, secede from the union and he repeatedly called Obama a "socialist."
Perry's national message was a carbon copy of his 2010 reelection campaign in Texas, complete with allusions to secession: anti-Washington, Tea Party-centric and -- as in the infamous anti-Don't Ask, Don't Tell ad -- culture-baiting. His twang, his boots, and his difficulty with syntax also were more than a little reminiscent of George W. Bush. It turned out these things weren't what voters were looking for outside the Lone Star State -- not even in South Carolina. The conservative candidates who surpassed Perry -- Gingrich and Santorum -- are both Washington insiders with a wonky bent. It may be that in the wake of Obama's perceived incompetence, Republican voters are looking for a candidate who knows how to work the levers of power -- or at least one who knows how to string a sentence together.
What I'll miss is being able to believe Rick Perry is an effective governor. […] But the real casualty of Perry's presidential run is the idea that governors in California or any other state should be looking to him for an example. His failure to launch went beyond the usual range of campaign screwups to a level of nincompoopery that wise people should avoid.
The silver lining in this race for me (most texans really) has always been that we either got to have you serve as President, or you came back to finish out your four year term as governor of our great state. It's the rest of the country that lost out. […]Ultimately, your impact in the remainder of your term is up to you. My hope is that you will bring the same fight you've shown on the campaign trail back to make Texas a more conservative and more prosperous state.
--Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his withdrawal from the presidential race and endorsed former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Jan. 19. Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images