From the Statesman, August 1:
A spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry would not directly say Monday whether Perry supported the debt-ceiling deal reached between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.
Asked whether lawmakers should approve the deal, Perry spokesman Mark Miner said: “The governor thinks the right track to go down is ‘cut, cap and balance.’ That was the approach he believed was best for the country.”
Sound familiar? It’s reminiscent of the ambiguous letter Perry and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as chairs of their respective parties’ governors associations, sent to Congress on the eve of the vote on the TARP bailout in 2008, urging action but never saying what kind of action. Perry waited to see which way the wind was blowing, and then, when it became clear that the bailout was unpopular, he came out against it with guns blazing.
Normally, I would write something like, “I’m astonished that Perry won’t take a position on the most important issue facing the country.” Of course, I’m not astonished at all. It’s “Bailout redux.” But I do think he’ll pay a price for ducking the question. A likely candidate for president can’t decline to take a position on an issue of paramount importance without looking (a) weak and (b) like he doesn’t have a clue about the issue. These little things, like the flap over states rights and gay marriage, add up, and sooner or later, they become big things. A person who is exploring whether to become a candidate for president ought to have a position on something as critical as the debt deal. (Even Dewhurst has one–he’s against it.) Perry doesn’t have one and is waiting to see which way the wind blows. That is not leadership, and it will not go unnoticed in the national media.