This week, the Texas GOP is holding its annual convention in Fort Worth. On Thursday, Rick Perry opened up the convention as a sort of comic pre-relief before the onslaught of policy bile that the convention will approve.
Perry started with some of his tired boilerplate attacks on Washington: “Three and a half years, and nearly 100 rounds of golf into his presidency, Barack Obama has exploded the federal debt, passed a failed, budget-busting stimulus package, socialized health care, and provided guns to Mexican drug cartels,” he said. Then, Perry got funny, though he probably wouldn't agree with the characterization. “Admit it, America. 2008 was our national 'oops' moment,” Perry told the crowd. Who knew lameness could resonate so loudly? Perry's on an obvious public relations mission to repair his reputation. He's been joking about the 'oops' moment constantly so that people might forgive it as a human moment and perhaps even like Perry more for it. The strategy of running towards your perceived weakness it isn't a bad one, but the problem is that Perry is overdoing it. Perry is bringing up the incident so often that it's just about all anyone can remember about him anymore.
Perry would do well to stay out of national affairs entirely – and immediately stop hinting that he may well run for president again. “I'm not riding off into the sunset. I'm mounting up for the next operation,” Perry said in his speech. He sounds like the fool he is – and one who simply can't accept the depths of humiliation he dragged himself through in the fall. Perry should focus on being Texas governor, which is all he'll ever amount to.
Later in his convention speech, Perry praised his Lieutenant Governor: “We need more strong, conservative Texans in Washington, including my friend and colleague David Dewhurst,” Perry said. Then, the crowd gave a swift, booming response: “Booooooooooooooooooooooo!” That's right: Texas Republicans booed their Republican governor over a meek statement of support for Texas's Republican govenror. Does anyone seriously think that Perry's endorsement of Dewhurst has helped his chances? Instead, it has further solidified Dewhurst's image as the establishment candidate.
After the speech, Perry told reporters he believed the crowd was shouting “Dew!” This is a governor who has purposefully divorced himself from the reality of his mounting irrelevance. He'll never have the same Tea Party fire again after his shtick failed so miserably on the national stage. His public antics indicate he knows it. All he's doing is sucking the air out of the room – and that's hard to do at a Texas GOP convention.