Home / General / The Mystery of Rick Perry’s “Fed Up”

The Mystery of Rick Perry’s “Fed Up”


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Scott’s post makes me wonder just when Rick Perry started thinking seriously about running for president. Yglesias points out that the book Fed Up, which appeared under Perry’s name nine months ago, argues that the modern administrative state is basically unconstitutional (with a bit of hedging for a couple of civil rights laws).

I find it a bit hard to believe that a prospective candidate would go into print with something like this, at least if his handlers had anything to say about it. (In terms of subtle signalling to Wingnuttia, this book seems less like a dog whistle and more like a ceremonial gong). A quick check of NEXIS reveals that between mid-July and mid-August of last year only two stories appeared that featured the phrases “Rick Perry” and “run for president.” (This past month the comparable number for the same search was 529). My theory, which is mine, is that Perry did not start seriously considering the idea of a presidential run until the first batch of GOP contenders started falling on their faces, and the inevitable longing for someone “electable” began to cast about for likely lads. In a nostalgia-riven culture, it’s not too surprising that longing settled on Perry, whose campaign is shaping up as the political equivalent of Beatlemania for those magical years when missions were accomplished and housing bubbles floated ever-upward in great, unbroken rings.

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  • John F

    — 1. The Civil War Was Caused By Slaveowners Trampling On Northern States’ Rights: Rather than simply citing chattel slavery as an exemption to his “states’ rights are good” principle, Perry argues that slaveholder activism in the 1850s was an example of big government federal overreach. “In many ways it was was the northern states whose sovereignty was violated in the run-up to the Civil War,” he argues, citing the Fugitive Slave Act

    In fairness to Perry, the quoted section is accurate- in isolation, ignoring the rights of the enslaved (or ignoring the fact that they had no rights) is reprehensible, but that doesn’t mean that the Fugitive Slave Act did not trample on the sovereignty of northern states- at least it’s better than calling it The War of Northern Aggression and claiming the war had nothing to do with slavery

    • It’s a clever move to try to get Yankees to admit that states’ rights is a legitimate casus belli.

  • DivGuy

    I think this is most likely correct. You call social security unconstitutional when you’re thinking about a sinecure at Fox News after all this governor business ends, not if you have any thoughts of a real presidential run.

    Now, I don’t want to say that Perry can’t win – the Republican nomination battle is significantly driven by a wildly radical base – but this is really weird and could derail his campaign before it starts.

    Are party elites really going to embrace a guy with this kind of lack of discipline, with this kind of ready-made attack ad on his record? I was expecting Perry’s elite support to be significantly better than Bachmann’s, but the WSJ editorial page is already linking them as a the radicals.

    • fledermaus

      No doubt Obama will offer to compromise and allow SSI for everyone currently over 55, and give the rest vouchers to Safeway

  • Stick a fork in him.

  • Davis X. Machina

    You call social security unconstitutional when you’re thinking about a sinecure at Fox News after all this governor business ends, not if you have any thoughts of a real presidential run.

    Considering how the Medicare-served population voted in the mid-terms — it delivered handsomely for the party pledged to fillet the program — (65 and over, +19R) why do we think that there’s any appreciable downside at the polls to calling SS unconstitutional, or running against it?

    • NonyNony

      But at least in my state, the Republicans were running on a platform of OH MY GOD THE DEMOCRATS WANT TO DESTROY YOUR MEDICARE VIA DEATH PANELS AND OBAMACARE!!!

      They explicitly did not run on a platform of “Social Security is un-Constitutional and we want to end it”.

    • The Republicans didn’t run on going after Medicare in 2010. They ran against death panels and “$500 billion cut to mumble mumble mumble.”

      It wasn’t until about May, with the Ryan budget, that they started talking about cutting it.

      • Davis X. Machina

        If they ran on cutting it, and/or on its constitutionality, and half of the demo swung D, they’d still only be voting at precisely the level they did in ’08 — R 10+.

        There is no way this is destructive of a Perry or anyone else’s election chances.

        • Totally agree. Also too, voters have for some time been filtering the radical right fringe comments of right wingers. They put it down to campaign rhetoric or it gets lost in the noise.

          I could be wrong, but I do not believe more than a handful of voters respond to specific policy statements, particularly entitlement programs that can be euthanized by euphemism, i.e., strengthening social security!

          Voters respond to heuristics, image, tone, and identity. Perry has all that going for him, plus he will be running against a black guy who hasn’t done shit about unemployment.

        • John

          You don’t think that a big decline in the Republicans’ share of the elderly vote would hurt Perry’s chances in the general?

          More importantly, you don’t think this will hurt Perry vis à vis other Republican candidates in the primary?

  • Maybe he’s running in order to sell more books. This this seems to be a new republican tactic.

    • pete

      It worked out well for Kucinich a few years back, too.

      • Forgot about that — looks like Dems can do it too. Hmmm, I wonder if the idea crossed Obama’s mind a few years ago?

      • witless chum

        What, does Perry need a significant other?

    • Njorl

      It isn’t just books. Look at what happened for Sarah Palin. She’s made a fortune from speaking gigs, TV and action figures.

  • FMguru

    It does seem like the sort of book you write if you’re going the Coulter/Hannity road of Fox News talking head and/or right-wing radio host. It is baffling – even if he wasn’t thinking about running in 2012, the popular governor of Texas would surely think he’d have a shot at higher office (if not the Presidency, maybe the veep slot or a senate seat) at some point in the future, and who needs this kind of baggage? Which makes me think that deep down, he really does believe every word of it. Yikes.

    On paper, it should be easy to defeat him by throwing his own words back at him, and pretty much the only way the GOP nomination fight could get more entertaining is if they spend their time accusing each other of being too far to the right. But if he does get the Republican nomination, I despair of Obama being willing to run on making Perry eat his words. That wouldn’t be balances and togetherriffic, don’t you know.

  • Murc

    Paul, I have to just say, thank you very much for this:

    Yglesias points out that the book Fed Up, which appeared under Perry’s name nine months ago

    I continue to be incredibly baffled how it is both 1) legal, and 2) apparently considered ethical for a person to pay someone or a group of someones to write a book, then slap their name on it and call it ‘my book’ and have everyone act like they were the ones who wrote it. So thanks for that construction, Paul. We all know Perry didn’t actually write his book.

    I long for the day someone in the media has the balls to say to a politician ‘Sir, I really enjoyed the book with your name on it. Who wrote it, and how much did you pay them?’

    • Paul Campos

      Mr. Gardiner, I’m Ronald Stiegler,
      of Harvard Books.

      (a two-handed handshake)
      Hello, Ronald.

      Mr. Gardiner, my editors and I have
      been wondering if you’d consider
      writing a book for us? Something on
      your political philosophy. What do
      you say?

      I can’t write.

      Of course, who can nowadays? I have
      trouble writing a post card to my
      children! Look, we could give you a
      six figure advance, provide you
      with the very best ghostwriter,
      research assistants, proof

      I can’t read.

      Of course not! No one has the time
      to read! One glances at things,
      watches television…

      Yes. I like to watch.

      Sure you do! No one reads!…
      Listen, book publishing isn’t
      exactly a bed of roses these

  • bph

    Wow, the knives are already coming out!

    The Washington Times

    Pres. Bachmann it is!

  • efgoldman

    Getcher pocorn raht cheer!

  • News Nag

    Have watched Perry from up close in Texas for 20 years. He is pure ambition and opportunism with a healthy head of hair (and a devious unhealthy mind underneath it). He is all id and ego and hubris. OF COURSE he was thinking of running for president when he had that book published. He’s been thinking about it since Bush ran and won. His handlers may have thought Romney or Palin had it sewn up, but in case they didn’t they realized the Tea Party would be choosing the GOP nomination, so they had him put out a book to please that extremist constituency. They know damned well that during the general election campaign the public won’t have a quiet moment to hear what Perry really believes and wrote in his book amidst the zillion dollar Citizens United blitzkrieg of lies and slander that will be coming from Rove and Company write large. The book was to secure the nomination if the others faltered, and it looks like this aspect of his campaign will succeed. Sorry, Paul.

    • John

      On the one hand, we have those who deride Obama’s supposed “11 dimensional chess,” which is often just a ridiculously dismissive term for the idea that, in the middle of negotiations, Obama’s public statements might not actually convey what he is really doing.

      On the other hand, we have those who make statements like this, in which Rick Perry, all of two days into the presidential race, has checkmated all his potential opponents through his brilliant rope-a-dope strategy.

      Question: how many deriders of “11 dimensional chess” are also advocates for ridiculous counter-intuitive theories about the Republican nomination?

    • He Dog

      Yep, when I saw him on the book tour, I knew he was running. He’s so inside his own head he really thinks his idiot views are rational and will be popular nationwide.

      Also, for what it’s worth–I’m an Aggie, too. Not all of us are stupid and crazy. Though Perry certainly is….

  • greylocks

    Hairy Perry is an empty-headed ignorant narcissist who, like the Shrub, is stupid, gullible and easily manipulated by appeals to his ego. He is Shrub II. Like Junior, he has surrounded himself with people who are using him for their own agenda. One or more of them whispered into Perry’s ear that he was chosen by god to lead this great nation, and like Shrub, he believed it. That’s why he’s running.

  • Steve LaBonne

    Don’t dismiss this guy- he’s dangerous. If he’s nominated, the “liberal media” will work overtime to make him seem like a sensible conservative, and there are more than enough people who are stupid enough to fall for it. We’ve seen this movie before.

    • mds

      Indeed, given that the media rimjobs for Perry have already started, it’s reasonable to be concerned. On the other hand, some of the right-wing media (see Washington Times link above) are not yet prepared to stampede to the Perry camp merely because he just recently took an ostentatious public dump all over the Establishment Clause. So we could briefly find ourselves in the interesting situation of watching the Villagers and the openly wingnut media slobbering over different Republican psychopathic monsters.

      My theory, which is mine, is that Perry

      has a skull which is thin on one side, much much thicker in the middle, and thin again at the other side.

      • PSP

        The WSJ editorial page had a big article on the Texas economic model versus the Michigan model today. The Murdoch nomination would appear to be in the bag.

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