I’m at a loss for words. I have never seen anything like it in presidential politics, except maybe Nixon’s breakdown in the final days of his presidency.
In the video, Perry ceases to be a politician. His gestures are those of an evangelical preacher. He waves his arms around, closes his eyes as if to summon the Almighty, and on several occasions, when he thinks he has delivered a good line, he gives the Aggie “Gig ‘em’ sign, thumb up.
Here is one passage:
“This is such a cool state, I mean, ‘Live Free or Die.’ You got to love that, right? I come from a state where they have this little place called the Alamo, and they declared, ‘Victory or Death.’ You know, we’re kind of into those slogans, man. Victory or Death! Live free or die! Bring it!”
From time to time his remarks are punctuated by nervous laughter from the audience, as if people doesn’t quite know how to take his remarks.
Early in his speech he urges people to “write your checks,” referring to a woman who is there to receive them. Then he says, “Gold is good, if you’ve got any in the back yard, because, you know, if they print any more over in Washington, then gold is going to be good, and she [the woman who receives the checks] will take it.” Huh? Gold in the back yard? Where did this come from?
“You know we spend half a trillion dollars a year on tax preparation, and any accountants or tax lawyers out there, I’m sorry dude, but that is too much money.”
“I’m sorry dude?” Can anyone imagine Mitt Romney saying that? Or anybody else in the Republican field?
Then he told what seemed to be an off-color joke:
“I grew up on a farm. I tell people, we lived so far out in the country that everybody had their own tomcat.” I think I get it. I wish I didn’t.
He slurred his words on at least one occasion, when he said, “The bottom line is this. If you want to stop Washington’s violations of the Tenth Amendment, then we must make President Obama a worn term president.” This would not have been noticeable, except that the rest of his delivery was more like a Saturday Night Live satire than a serious address by a presidential candidate. We haven’t seen anything like it on SNL since Will Ferrell was playing George W. Bush at a frat party.
The Rick Perry we saw on that video is not a viable presidential candidate. Something has gone terribly wrong in the Perry campaign, and that something is the candidate himself. That is all I am going to say on the subject. I’m not going to attempt a diagnosis based on a video. But I don’t see how the Rick Perry we see in this video can run for dogcatcher.