Perry the Petty

I’m glad Will Wilkinson lives in Iowa. We are all winning the future because of it. For instance, Will happened to be in a diner with presidential hopeful, Rick Perry, recently, and snapped some video of an exchange between Mr. Perry and an Iowa grad student. You should read the whole thing, because it’s a decent little snapshot of the Texas governor. This passage in particular, describing Perry’s reaction to the question, is quite wonderful:

I enjoyed witnessing this fleeting, close-up moment of flesh-pressing campaign politicking. Mr Perry’s skillful exit from the exchange, his calmly assertive demeanour (note the way his initially attentive eyes narrow into a challenging "kiss off" grin, the way he presses his index finger softly into Mr Hjelm’s chest) and the folksy leavening of his denigrating parting shot, all suggest to me a seriously skilled retail politician whose swagger remains mostly charming even when he’s being an impatient prick. Meanwhile, Mr Hjelm’s question and his follow-up blog post reveal an emerging line of attack on Mr Perry from the most fervently small-government precincts of the tea-party right: Mr Perry is a big-spending, lobbyist-loving, Al Gore-supporting ex-Democrat who is all pork and no tricorne.

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the editor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.


  1. I’m not necesarily a fan of Perry at all but I don’t quite understand the kerfuffle over making him sounds like a maniac. The Bernanke quote yesterday and now this. They are a weird kind of hyper-sensitivity that I am not familiar with. If you get in someone’s face as they are trying to do their job and ask them gotcha questions – you have to expect a small amount of static.

  2. Mr Perry is a big-spending, lobbyist-loving, Al Gore-supporting ex-Democrat who is all pork and no tricorne.

    Who wants pork that has tricorneosis?

  3. I’m not sure if the video illustrates a good politician or a bad one.

    What I do see is experience at the retail politics level — the politician realizes that he isn’t being asked a question, he’s being challenged by a partisan, and a long-winded one at that. He’s got hands to shake and babies to kiss; this isn’t the Policy Wonkery Hour.

    I suppose that’s good political skills in this context. But it frustrates me to see an unanswered question. There will come a time that Governor Perry will have to answer challenges made by people who will not agree with his factual premises. A press-the-flesh event like this may not be that time. But a debate or a candidate forum is, and we’ll get to see a different side of him then.

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