Rick Perry comes to heel

After a brief flirtation with decency on the gay-marriage issue, Perry comes to heel when called by his master, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

When Rick Perry announced that New York’s approval of gay marriage was within its powers and therefore “fine with me,” I was pleased for the country but worried as a partisan. It seemed like quite a shrewd move for the man who now seems – as the sole candidate acceptable to the plutocrats, the theocrats, and the teahdis – very likely to be the Republican nominee for President in 2012.

It appeared to reflect Perry’s confidence that his links to the theocrats were strong enough to allow him to start now the rhetorical move toward the center that would be necessary to make him competitive in November.

But now Perry has turned around. As soon as his master, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, called “Heel!” Perry dutifully trotted back to place, restating his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment that would undo New York’s law by restricting marriage nationally to “the union of a man and a woman.”

Perry wraps his flip-flop in a long mumble about “activist judges and special interest groups,” but what it comes down to is that states’ rights are important but bashing gays is more important.

So now Perry looks not only like the wingnut that he is, but also like a spineless weasel. (Actually, what he looks like is a guy who sells used cars six days a week and preaches in a storefront church on Sunday, but that’s a different problem.)

This reflects the larger strategic challenge for the GOP: now that its fringe has become its base, it’s almost impossible for anyone to get the Republican nomination without saying things that make it impossible for him to win in November.

In the long run, it would be better to have two nationally competitive parties. But what the country needs right now is a series of punishing electoral defeats for the Republicans that will either force the party back toward sanity (though it’s hard to imagine the mechanism for such a transition) or send it the way of the Federalists and the Whigs and allow for the emergence of a new conservative party, one whose leadership wants to repeal the Great Society but not the New Deal, the Enlightenment, or the rules of logic and arithmetic.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

7 thoughts on “Rick Perry comes to heel”

  1. “A new conservative party, one whose leadership wants to repeal the Great Society but not the New Deal, the Enlightenment, or the rules of logic and arithmetic.”

    We already have such a party. It is called the Democratic Party.

  2. “But what the country needs right now is a series of punishing electoral defeats for the Republicans that will either force the party back toward sanity ”

    How did it ever develop that a bunch of freshman congressmen have taken over the Republican caucus and started controlling the shots? Whatever happened to the tradition of telling freshman representatives, “Sit down and keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut and you may learn something”? It is as if the brand new crop of interns on the first day of July took over the department of medicine and started setting the agenda for the entire hospital.

  3. “How did it ever develop that a bunch of freshman congressmen have taken over the Republican caucus and started controlling the shots?”

    The politics follows the nation. The tea party is not some minuscule minority that managed to get a bunch of reps in power through bizarre chicanery — they believe what large parts of America believe. This is what happens in a society that:
    (a) is very religious (meaning they’re primed and prepared to believe any old crap, as long as it is preached enthusiastically)
    (b) has little respect for knowledge and learning
    (c) has large pools of money in the hands of individuals with dubious ideas.

    All three of these were necessary to generate this perfect storm, but all three have led us to this point, where a large fraction of the nation truly believes what the Tea Party believe. The Tea Party are no different from religious zealots anywhere — exactly the same crazy dangerous ideas. (And Obama is playing the role our hosts at this blog play whenever religious issues arise, telling us all to play nice, that if we simply respect these people and their “unusual” ideas, if we understand that they have an equally valid view of reality, well then surely we can come to some sort of compromise that works for all of us.)

  4. President Obama has sought to serve all Americans. It is his bad luck, and the nation’s, that the bible tea baggers (who do not represent mainstream America despite the right’s assurances) have no interest in serving the Common Good. There is no equivalence in this: republicans are fucking with our country’s future because they don’t like him. Fools, and worse, traitors, in my eyes. My anger toward the right has only increased. President Obama erred on the side of inclusion and good governance. Americans don’t deserve it, not anymore. What a reckless, vile crew the rightwing is. May they rot in hell.

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