Through the Looking Glass

Politics in the US continues to take on aspects of unreality, if not mass insanity. The newest evidence is the probable entry of Texas Governor Rick Perry into the GOP Presidential primaries.

As Timothy Egan describes Perry, he wouldn’t seem to be a threat in any rational universe:

“Perry’s tendency to use prayer as public policy demonstrates, in the midst of a truly painful, wide-ranging and potentially catastrophic crisis in the nation’s second most-populous state, how he would govern if he became president.

“I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God, and say, ‘God: You’re going to have to fix this,’” he said in a speech in May, explaining how some of the nation’s most serious problems could be solved. […]

Perry is supposed to be the savior. When he joins the campaign in the next few days, expect him to show off his boots; they are emblazoned with the slogan dating to the 1835 Texas Revolution: “Come and Take It.”  He once explained the logo this way:  “Come and take it — that’s what it’s all about.” This is not a man one would expect to show humility in prayer.

Perry revels in a muscular brand of ignorance (Rush Limbaugh is a personal hero), one that extends to the ever-fascinating history of the Lone Star State.  Twice in the last two years he’s broached the subject of Texas seceding from the union.”

So one more lunatic joins Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, et al. Does it really matter? Can’t we just take this latest candidacy as evidence that Obama will not have trouble being re-elected? Not if James Moore, author of Bush’s Brain, is correct.  He proposes the following, chilling scenario:

“His Saturday speech in South Carolina will make clear that he is entering the race for the White House and will spawn the ugliest and most expensive presidential race in U.S. history, and he will win. A C and D student, who hates to govern, loves to campaign, and barely has a sixth grader’s understanding of economics, will lead our nation into oblivion. […]

After he wins the nomination, protocol will require Perry to have discussions with Bachmann about the vice presidential slot, but he will, eventually, turn to Sarah Palin. The general election will force the Texan back toward the middle and he will stop talking about faith and abortion and gay marriage; Perry will campaign on jobs and the economy.”

Richard Hofstadter wrote two seminal books about the American electorate: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life and The Paranoid Style in American Politics. It was bad enough when paranoia and anti-intellectualism were undercurrents to be dealt with, but in our current fantasy environment, it is sanity that is the undercurrent and wonderland that threatens to overwhelm us.

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