An excellent catch from Ellen at News Hounds: on Fox last night, Rick Perry and Sean Hannity were discussing the ad in which Perry (deceptively) claims President Obama called the American people "lazy," and Perry went on to declare that Obama grew up a child of privilege:
... [Hannity] offered Perry a launch pad from which to further the attacks, asking, "What do you think it is in the president? This is not the first time that he's gone after the American people. What does it reveal to you about his mindset and his thinking?"
... Perry made this jaw-droppingly clueless statement:
It reveals to me that he grew up in a privileged way. He never had to really work for anything. He never had to go through what Americans are going – you know, there's 14+ million Americans sittin' out there, some of 'em watching this program tonight that don't have a job. This president has never felt that angst that they have in their heart."
This follows the ad itself, in which Perry also describes Obama using terms such as "socialist" and "pathetic." The ad sends as much of a thrill up the leg of Time's Michael Scherer as it does up Fox Nation's collective leg. Scherer loves it even though he acknowledges that Obama called government agencies responsible for seeking foreign investment "lazy," not the American people as a whole. It's a lie -- who cares? It's just so manly:
All that said, I still think it's a great ad, his best so far in this cycle. Perry comes across as he wants to, an energized outsider who will clean house in Washington, and represent the outraged conservative base.
Could this work? Could Perry actually come back? Well, if there's any chance, he's certainly hit on exactly the right strategy: do nothing but attack Obama (and otherwise hit wingnut pleasure centers), and spend lots of money doing it. Chris Cillizza:
Perry has the money that no candidate other than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney can match -- $15 million in the bank at the end of September....
Obama is widely loathed by the Republican base and Perry's willingness to use the sort of white-hot rhetoric -- "pathetic", "socialism" -- that Romney has, to date, shied away from, amount to a wolfwhistle to the base by the Texas governor.
We've long believed that what Republican voters are searching for -- and have yet to find -- is a candidate willing to fight Obama on all fronts, at all times and with the sharpest possible rhetoric.
But hasn't Perry irreversibly alienated the GOP base with flubs and conservatively incorrect positions on immigration? Well, yes -- but on the flub question, if he can combine this just-attack-Obama-and-liberalism strategy with an argument that his own lack of articulateness is actually a virtue -- which, given the belief system of the GOP base, ought to be doable -- then maybe he can get away with being a weak debater. He's going to have make this case in a nasty way, by alleging that there's something sinister about Obama's silver tongue. But that's certainly imaginable. Besides, as Jonathan Chait notes, the GOP base actually thinks Obama isn't particularly articulate:
A persistent undercurrent of Republican thought holds that the president is actually a dolt, helpless to express a simple thought without a prepared text. (That is the undercurrent of continuous Republican jokes about his use of the TelePrompTer.)
And as for Perry's political incorrectness on immigration, well, Gingrich bounced back from attacking Saint Paul Ryan (although it took him months).
Perry's clearly throwing everything out there right now -- cutting congressional pay, the balanced budget amendment, the flat tax, citizenship checks at campaign appearances, a debate challenge to Nancy Pelosi, -- and if he cranks up the proposals and makes them even crazier (and thus more appealing to the base), while spending millions to get his message out, he really could peak just in time for Iowa, which should be just about the time when the Gingrich-is-a-liberal attacks start drawing blood. (I said last night that the Freddie Mac story won't hurt Gingrich much, but check out this Freeper's laundry list of Gingrich crimes against conservatism. He worked with Al Sharpton! He worked with Nancy Pelosi! He wrote a book that's pro-environment! He didn't endorse Doug Hoffman! That stuff will kill him, not Freddie Mac. That plus his own incorrect views on immigration.)
The base will want someone. Since no one likes Bachmann anymore and no one ever liked Santorum, Perry may be the last wingnut standing.
Perry's "lazy" ad: