Painfully Unprincipled

Since I avoid most TV news like the plague, I have not seen the Republican candidates speak much, preferring to glean their positions from other news sources and their own web sites. Yesterday was an exception, as I listened to Rick Perry being grilled on the Fox News Sunday morning program. I was not impressed.

OK, I was disgusted.

Rick Perry, whom I have taken to task before in this blog, came across as a smoldering dunce. In a time when America is getting pounded by unemployment and a moribund economy, Perry manages to come up with…well, frankly I couldn’t tell. For example, I think he said that it was wrong for the federal government to pick economic winners and losers, but OK for states. And people will sign up for his optional flat tax over regular taxes “off the top of their heads,” instead of having to figure their taxes at least two or three different ways to see which is less. Do tell.

Perry’s boast to create 2.5 million jobs during his term was met with harsh skepticism by Chris Wallace, the host, who pointed out that it would take 6 million just to catch up, given population growth. Even Jimmy Carter created 10.5 million.* Congratulations to Wallace for working in simultaneously a math lesson and an allusion to Carter, comparisons with whom are almost universally unflattering.

Perry is not a man who mouths the right words, though without conviction. He can’t even mouth the right words. Is a flat tax a good idea? Probably, but you couldn’t tell from Perry’s description of it. Is government support of certain industries at any level consistent with a limited-government philosophy? No, but Perry does not seem to grasp that one, either.

So back to the dunce thing. I would be the last person on Earth to argue that intelligence is the only quality a President needs to govern successfully. Our current One has all the trappings of a great education and appears to be an intelligent man, but he is a flaming disaster. One would hope that a viable candidate would come across as able to hold an intelligible conversation about key issues. Rick Perry does not even clear the minimum threshold of thoughtfulness. Or if he does, he keeps it well hidden.

Now back to the disgusting thing. Our sitting President is arguably the most economically destructive leader this country has ever seen. Democrats helped him pass a ticking time bomb in the form of Obamacare and a “stimulus” that failed to even tickle. They join him in a chorus of sniping about the rich and the “greed” of the productive, which serve to do little but prompt people to occupy something. Yet for all this, Rick Perry is Republican’s answer? Disgusting–yep, that’s the right word.

If Republicans cannot put forth a candidate who will argue sensibly against that, what can they offer? They have chosen to proactively ignore Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, two candidates who at least have the virtue of a identifiable conviction. Mitt Romney, another candidate distinguishing himself lately by waffling, is no better than Perry, and may be decidedly worse. Michelle Bachmann is consistent, if being consistently confused on matters of fact qualifies. Herman Cain comes across as flip and increasingly shallow as the days wear on. Sigh…

The Republican Party is as good as dead if it remains in the clutches of an Establishment that behind the scenes searches for the wateriest candidate it can find so as not to offend. Americans may not agree completely with a Ron Paul or a Gary Johnson, but they sure as hell know that the libertarian policies they support make more sense than the blather we hear from everyone else. Can Republicans bring themselves to emulate the early Tea Party movement and identify themselves by a simple, straightforward set of guiding principles? I doubt it. Look for them instead to follow every “shrink government” with an “except for” and every “yes, definitely” with a “maybe not.” And blow 2012 completely.


*In reality, of course, no President “creates”  jobs, at least not real ones.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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