There are lots of things to discuss about Perry's first few days as a candidate. There's the current media infatuation with him, his utter distortion of his economic record and his first few jabs at his fellow candidates.
Most interesting, perhaps, is how his campaign has matched up against expectations that he could excite both the GOP and the general electorate. “For months, the opinion-shaping elites of the GOP had hoped that he might represent a magical hybrid of Bachmann's passion and Romney's electability,” political reporter Steve Kornacki explained on Salon.
So, is that what's happening? No.
On Monday, Perry casually threatened to have Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve appointed by President Bush, murdered. “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas,” he said. “Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous, or treasonous in my opinion.” Perry's comments have been met with loud criticism and widespread media coverage. Even Karl Rove told Perry to calm down.
When asked whether he stood by his statement, Perry reiterated his threat. “I am just passionate about the issue and we stand by what we said,” Perry told CNN.
Not the kind of mass appeal rhetoric that the GOP was looking for in a candidate who they hoped would combine Bachmann's base appeal and Romney's electability.
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal printed a scathing editorial calling for a new candidate and arguing that Perry's brand of extreme rhetoric is unable to appeal to the general electorate. Karl Rove went on Sean Hannity's show to suggest that there's still time and room for more candidates to run. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is said to be seriously eyeing an entry into the race.
“These are not the signs of a successful rollout for Perry…[I]f Perry keeps this up (and he may not be able to help himself) they're liable to conclude that he's just another Bachmann,” Salon's Kornacki argued.
In the last week, more serious scandals have begun to emerge. Yesterday, Politico reported that his campaign is scrambling to raise money by recklessly throwing together a team of bundlers. One member of this team, Stephen Payne, has been caught trading time with President Bush for donations to the former president's library. Payne even arranged Perry's recent meeting with former Pakistan President Pervez Musharaff to “boost [Perry's] foreign policy credentials.” During the 2010 gubernatorial primary, Perry criticized Hutchison for employing Payne's services.
On Saturday, the Huffington Post reported that the operatives running almost all of the Perry-supporting PACs are members of Perry's inner circle. Evidence of collusion seems imminent. As these groups step up their efforts to support Perry, this scandal will only grow.
To the GOP's dissapointment, Perry is turning out to be a wingnut who has more skeletons in his closet than most. Whether these particular Perry actions are particularly damning or not, it doesn't matter. Rick Perry is campaigning as a divisive, violent Tea Party candidate.
He is not some sort of ideal hybrid of Romney and Bachmann; he is a dangerous hybrid of insane and corrupt.
But we've known that for a while down here in Texas. Rick Perry has been treating us pretty ugly for more than a decade.