It is not surprising that, soon after entering the race, Rick Perry has moved to the lead in the Republican race considering the weakness of the field. As Governor of Texas, he avoids the problems of candidates (and potential candidates) such as Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin of not appearing qualified to hold national office. By taking extreme conservative positions, he avoids the problems of candidates such as Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. He has even taken a lead over Obama in the latest Rasmussen poll, although if you believed the results from this right -wing polling outfit the country would be far to the right of where it is now, Hillary Clinton would have beaten Barack Obama, and a Republican would already be in the White House.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t think it is possible for Perry to take a lead in the legitimate national polls. I would not be at all surprised if Perry doesn’t enjoy a huge bounce, similar to the one which Sarah Palin briefly enjoyed. Once people learn more about his ideas and past, his public support will undoubtedly fall. For the sake preserving a United States which the founding fathers might still recognize, I sure hope that happens before November, 2012. Otherwise we will believe that the ancient Mayans were right.
Republicans who consider electability as opposed to extremist right-wing philosophy and the anti-Americanism/anti-intellectualism of the so-called Tea Party will realize that Perry is a potential disaster, but they might not have a choice. If the election can be limited to a vote based upon the economy in 2012, then there is the danger that Perry, and even Bachmann or Palin, could actually win, regardless of the fact that Republican economic ideas are responsible for creating and prolonging the recession. If Obama has any success in broadening the playing field to a vote as to what type of American voters really want, Obama still can win big. Republicans already have the burden of running with their Congressional votes to essentially abolish Medicare. Add to that Perry’s opposition to Social Security, support of theocracy over liberal democracy, and support for plutocracy over capitalism, and we could see a replay of 1964, assuming the Democrats can actually get their message out.
It is far too early to predict the GOP race, but many pundits are now describing it as a battle between Romney and Perry. The two have one thing in common. Both have taken more moderate positions in the past, and have more recently espoused nutty right wing views to improve their position it the GOP. The difference is that, despite pandering to the far right on a number of issues, Romney has avoided a handful of extremist views while Perry has gone as far right as possible without donning a white sheet or brown shirt, giving him far more credibility on the right. Plus having actually implemented a health care plan similar to Obama’s is a far more serious offense than just writing in support of Hillary Clinton’s plan as Perry once did. After all, the plan which passed is essentially the Republican counter-proposal to Clinton’s plan with most leading Republicans already being on record as supporting its features in the past.
Perry’s entry does alter Romney’s game plan. Until now, Romney has been able to get away with raising tons of money while generally keeping a low profile and limiting attacks upon him. He must now campaign more openly and gamble by showing that Perry is too radical to become president, recognizing that doing this might actually endear him even more to Republican primary voters. At least having Romney and Huntsman exposing Perry’s most radical viewpoints will make things easier for Obama should Perry become his opponent, potentially reducing his national support to Palin-levels as soon as he is nominated.