Is Perry as right-wing as the Times fears?

Today the editors of the New York Times describe Rick Perry (whose real name, by the way, is James Richard Perry) as

one of the most conservative candidates ever to be taken seriously in the race for the Republican nomination.

If he wins, Governor Perry would certainly be the first modern major-party nominee to ridicule Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as “Ponzi schemes,” and to suggest that the movement that produced them “was the beginning of the deterioration of our Constitution.”

We look forward to hearing his explanation to the millions of Americans who not only rely on social insurance but consider it one of the finest fruits of American government. When he says he wants to make Washington “inconsequential,” any voter who drives on an interstate highway or hopes to find clean water coming from a tap should listen closely.

Mr. Perry has money, has executive experience and is a better campaigner than Mrs. Bachmann. As he begins to jockey for position with her and Mr. Romney, voters will get a chance to decide whether his extreme laissez-faire message is right for a country in desperate need of strong Washington leadership and sensible government help.

So, even as right-wingers like us harshly criticize Perry for being a liberal, liberals see him as a frighteningly extreme conservative. How do we reconcile these very different views of him?

I think the answer is that Perry is a thoroughly political creature who says whatever will please his audience of the moment. When he issues these various statements, such as that his aim is to make Washington “inconsequential,” it is empty rhetoric meant to stir his conservative listeners’ blood. It has no real meaning. In the same way, when he told an audience in Aspen recently that New York’s homosexual-“marriage” law was “fine with me,” he was also being a political creature, automatically saying what would please his liberal audience. However, since his main audience in his career has been Texas conservatives, and now national conservatives whose support he needs to win the GOP nomination, he tends to make very conservative-sounding statements, which send liberals into an unnecessary panic (if they’re foolish enough to take his pronouncements at face value), or gives them a pretext to engage in a cynical manipulation of liberal fears (if they are not).

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Bill Carpenter writes:

The press has three reasons to exaggerate the conservatism of Cameron and Perry: heighten the drama and sell stories; alarm and motivate the liberal base; scare off potential supporters. In VFR parlance, Cameron and Perry have both developed constituencies around a handful of “unprincipled exceptions” to the all-pervasive liberalism of the era. Nothing about either of them suggests conservative foundations. Of presidential condidates, only Bachmann even raises the question as to which (if either) is fundamental—the liberalism or the conservatism.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 16, 2011 02:45 PM | Send

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