It’s official, y’all: Rick Perry’s name can be added to the list of Texans running for President—a list that includes Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina (plus imminent-announcer Jeb Bush). The former governor made his blindingly obvious intentions to throw his hat and glasses back into the ring explicit this morning, becoming the first candidate also under criminal indictment to declare for 2016. (Though, if Chris Christie gets into the ring, he may not be the last!)
Given Perry’s legal woes, the “oops” heard round the world, and his newfound affinity for country-rap songs about himself, the national media is, perhaps predictably, pretty damn excited for a Perry 2016 campaign.
Perhaps Gawker expressed that enthusiasm best, when it reacted to news that Perry would be making his announcement with the headline, “Ah Yes Oh Rick Perry Yes Yes Thank You God.” And that was before anybody had heard the song that Perry apparently commissioned: “Rick Perry supporter / Let’s protect our border / To hell with anyone who don’t believe in the USA / Rick Perry all the way.”
Still, even before “Answer to No One,” which is the name of the song in its non-Perrified form that Perry to, people in the media were pumped to see what Perry might do this time around. Sequels rarely live up to the hype, and Perry—whose campaign is built, in part, around explaining away the disaster that was his 2012 attempt—is more likely to overcome the low expectations he faces than to drop another “oops” on live television. His own wife is out there pushing the theme of “He’s prepared now,” and while that may be the definition of “damned by faint praise,” it’s almost certainly true.
Still, the obvious critics who see Perry as a ripe target are delighted. TMZ created a video to highlight how sweaty Perry was during his speech, while the liberal blog DailyKos.com joked that “the Republican primary just got serious. Rick Perry is in.”
The right-wing media, meanwhile, is working overtime on Perry’s image rehab. Fox News’ Erick Erickson issued an essay about “Why Rick Perry Deserves a Second Look,” while conservative blog the Blaze highlighted the humility of Perry’s “second son,” real-life lone survivor Marcus Luttrell.
Perry’s own campaign is keen to display the endorsement from Luttrell—the first link on his “about” page on his website is one that showcases his relationship with the Navy SEAL—and Chris Kyle’s widow was also present for the announcement. The very first words on the page are “2016 will be about a record of leadership. It will be a show me don’t tell me election,” which makes a lot of sense: few things say “leadership” more than the military men who’ve become Hollywood heroes that Perry can claim, and “show me, don’t tell me” is a fine theme for a candidate whose “tell me” has mostly involved pretty stupid things.
Still, the framing of Perry 2016 is underway, and it’s safe at this point to declare him a longshot (the betting odds have him at thirty to one, or significantly worse than the chances that the Houston Texans will go to the Super Bowl in February). If he can somehow surpass the urge that people have to laugh at him—or to explain away why they’re not laughing at him—he’s got a shot in a year without a strong frontrunner, but that’s one hell of an “if.”
(AP Photo/Tim Sharp)