New Shiny Things

Gov. Rick Perry definitely is the new shiny thing for Republicans. Rasmussen (yeah, I know, it’s Rasmussen) has him surging way ahead of Romney and Bachmann among likely primary voters. And let’s remember that last May, Nate Silver wrote that Perry had a good shot at the nomination if he decided to run.

Conventional wisdom says that the fight for the nomination will be between Romney and Perry, and barring an unforeseen shakeup of some sort I’m inclined to agree. I’m also predicting that Bachmann will fade in New Hampshire and South Carolina — Perry will go all out for South Carolina — and that will be the end of her campaign.

I also think that Perry will be completely unsalable outside the Tea Party. More moderate Republicans might be persuaded to hold their noses and vote for him — he’s not Obama, after all — but Independents will run, screaming — it’s another Bush!

People who know Perry well say he’s nothing like Dubya, although it seems to me he’s just like Dubya in every way that might affect how he would “govern” as POTUS. However, those associated with the Bush family and their administrations apparently really, really, really do not like Perry. Why they do not like him I do not know. Part of the aversion may be that the Bushies (for all of Dubya’s affected folksiness) are genuine aristocrats, while Perry’s background is about as low as class gets in America. A Perry family reunion must be something like “Deliverance on the Prairie.” Believe me, for genuine bluebloods whiteness alone doesn’t make one respectable.

But while it’s very possible Perry will self-destruct, he might not do it soon enough to save the GOP from having to put him on the ticket.

And might the ticket be Romney-Perry? That would be a true mashup of the worst of everything the GOP has to offer. But it’s a logical choice, in many ways. It’s a ticket that could pose a real challenge to Obama, depending on whether Romney stops trying to be one of the guys — painful to watch — and Perry stops channeling Yosemite Sam.

Stuff to Read:

Harold Meyerson, “The Sad Facts Behind Rick Perry’s Texas Miracle

Rick Perry’s Texas is Ross Perot’s Mexico come north. Through a range of enticements we more commonly associate with Third World nations — low wages, no benefits, high rates of poverty, scant taxes, few regulations and generous corporate subsidies — the state has produced its own “giant sucking sound,” attracting businesses from other states to a place where workers come cheap.

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes some great commentary on Civil War history, along with his great commentary on current events. Today he quotes from a book by prominent historian James McPherson (and if you really want to understand the late unpleasantness, you must read McPherson) that suggests some things don’t change —

“The conflict between slavery and non-slavery is a conflict for life and death,” a South Carolina commissioner told Virginians in February 1861. “The South cannot exist without African slavery.” Mississippi’s commissioner to Maryland insisted that “slavery was ordained by God and sanctioned by humanity.” If slave states remained in a Union ruled by Lincoln and his party, “the safety of the rights of the South will be entirely gone.”

If these warnings were not sufficient to frighten hesitating Southerners into secession, commissioners played the race card. A Mississippi commissioner told Georgians that Republicans intended not only to abolish slavery but also to “substitute in its stead their new theory of the universal equality of the black and white races.”

Georgia’s commissioner to Virginia dutifully assured his listeners that if Southern states stayed in the Union, “we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything.”

An Alabamian born in Kentucky tried to persuade his native state to secede by portraying Lincoln’s election as “nothing less than an open declaration of war” by Yankee fanatics who intended to force the “sons and daughters” of the South to associate “with free negroes upon terms of political and social equality,” thus “consigning her [the South’s] citizens to assassinations and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans…”

This argument appealed as powerfully to nonslaveholders as to slaveholders. Whites of both classes considered the bondage of blacks to be the basis of liberty for whites. Slavery, they declared, elevated all whites to an equality of status by confining menial labor and caste subordination to blacks. “If slaves are freed,” maintained proslavery spokesmen, whites “will become menials. We will lose every right and liberty which belongs to the name of freemen.”

Substitute the issue of slavery with “Obamacare,” and this almost could have been written about the Tea Party. See also “Hiding in Plain Sight: Racism’s Role in the Party GOP’s Effort to Destroy President Barack Obama and the U.S. Economy.”

Update: Nate Silver ponders Perry’s electability.