I am calling it right now – Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be the Republican candidate for president.
A bold prediction, I know, given how everyone is jumping on the Perry bandwagon. I, however, am notoriously late to joining any bandwagon, so this is a bit of a stretch for me. Combine that with the fact that I despise everything Perry stands for, and perhaps you will start realizing how shocking my prediction is.
In an otherwise weak Republican field, Perry is the ideal candidate for conservative voters. He has executive experience as governor. He talks straight and from the heart. He is a former Air Force pilot. He supports capital punishment (234 executions as governor). He believes in Intelligent Design. He does not believe in global climate change. He carries a concealed handgun. He opposes same-sex marriage. He hates Social Security. He loves Jesus.
Perry is a walking, talking Republican stereotype. That is exactly what is needed to win a presidential primary. Primaries are not about sensible policy explanation, primaries are about courting your base. Primaries are about firing up your core constituents and making them believe they can pin their hopes and dreams on you.
History has shown moderate candidates tend to get lost in the shuffle during primaries. Particularly come national convention time, delegates are going to be looking for a candidate who excites them. For instance, George H.W. Bush was the sensible choice, with all the experience in the world, but in 1980 the Republicans chose ex-Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan instead.
Former Gov. Adlai Stevenson should have been the logical choice for the 1960 Democratic presidential candidate, but instead a young up-and-comer named John F. Kennedy was chosen.
That is why it is time for mild-mannered Mitt Romney to make way for pugnacious Perry.
Talk of compromise and bipartisanship are for once you have secured the nomination. You will need it then to win over independents and disgruntled supporters of the opposing party. That is where Perry’s more moderate views on immigration, Afghanistan and vaccinations will come in handy.
The only problem is remembering to flip the switch after winning the nomination.
Perry looks like an unstoppable Republican juggernaut right now, but that will not go over as well when he is going head-to-head with President Barack Obama.
Perry is a Caucasian male conservative Christian governor from Texas who is taking a lot of flak for what he says. Sounds vaguely familiar to a recent president of ours — the one who left office with an approval rating of 22 percent, the lowest for any departing president. If Americans have any sense of memory at all, they will recognize the similarities and will probably back away slowly, never taking their eyes off Perry, out of fear of the terrible danger they stumbled upon.
If you do not believe me, look no further than Sarah Palin. Beloved by hard-line conservatives, and chosen by Sen. John McCain to whip up base support, she is a figure of great amusement, bemusement and sometimes outrage for the left. She is identical to Perry in many ways, but is utterly un-electable due to her divisive nature.
The same can be said for Sarah Palin 2.0. Excuse me, I mean Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Perry shows no signs of backing down on his hard-line rhetoric. The guy who called Social Security a Ponzi scheme is expected to moderate his views? The guy who threatened Texas secession in 2009?
This will hurt Perry in the national election. Despite all the comparisons he is drawing to Reagan, Perry makes Reagan look like a bleeding-heart liberal. Reagan spent years compromising with Democrats as governor and president, raising taxes and expanding government spending. Perry has not shown those same signs of compromise.
Obama, on the other hand, has built much of his reputation on trying to bring about bipartisan agreement. He let Republicans stall the health care reform and debt ceiling debates longer than necessary in attempts to reach a deal that satisfied everyone. But the “Party of No” has proven unwilling to compromise and Perry, so far, has reflected that same attitude.
Perry is exactly the type of candidate Obama and his team wants to run against.
Still, Perry will certainly be inspiring the conservative Christian voting bloc in a way that McCain, and most of the other current Republican nominees, cannot — which is another reason he should win the Republican nomination. In the national election, that will prove to be a major support base for Perry to build upon.
During the last couple of weeks, Obama has shown the old campaign spirit that got him elected in 2008. No doubt he intends to whip up that powerful youth vote again.
It is shaping up to be a good presidential election — with dynamic, if flawed, characters set to represent both political parties.