Thursday, September 08, 2011

Karl Rove's message is getting clearer and clearer: Rick Perry is a crazy, unelectable extremist.

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry has a long record of craziness, including his view that Social Security is an un-American Ponzi scheme:

In Perry's book, released just nine months ago, he writes on page 48 that Social Security is "by far the best example" of a program "violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles." On page 50, he says that we have Social Security "at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government."

On ABC yesterday, George Stephanopoulos asked Karl Rove about this, and Rove, like most Texas Bushies no great fan of the Texas governor, took the opportunity to slam Perry pretty hard:

STEPHANPOLOUS: And a lot of questions about how how Rick Perry will handle this test. So much talk about his books and what he's written in his books, "Fed Up!" Questioning the 16th Amendment, which imposed the income tax. The 17th Amendment, direct election of Senators. And I think he's gotten the most attention for what he said about Social Security, calling it a Ponzi scheme. Compares it to a "bad disease" that's been "imposed on us for 70 years." You know how much trouble that can be for a Republican candidate in a general election. So how does he handle it and must he disavow some of these statements in the book.

ROVE: What they've done thus far is, I think, inadequate. Which is to basically say, "look, we didn't write the book with the presidential campaign in mind." Well, okay, fine. But they are going to have to find a way to deal with these things. Because, as you say, they are toxic in a general election environment and they are also toxic in a Republican primary. If you say Social Security is a failure and ought to be replaced by a state-level program, then people are going to say: "What do you mean by that?" And make a judgment based on your answer to it. Each candidate has strengths. Each candidate also has challenges. This, for Governor Perry is his challenge. Now he's got formidable strengths. But this is his biggest challenge.

You'll note that Rove is sort of dispensing campaign advice here: Deal with this, it could be Perry's undoing. And he's also being a good team player: Perry has "formidable strengths."

But, yes, this is Karl Rove, a man who has achieve fame and glory playing to the extremes in campaign after campaign, saying that one of Rick Perry's core views, one that appeals to the far right of the GOP, and hence to much of the base, is "toxic," and hence that Perry himself is toxic. And not just in a general election context but within the GOP as well, including with the right-wing grassroots base that dominates the party's primaries.

Obviously, Rove has an agenda. Among other things, it is to try seriously to win the election. But the only way for the Republicans to do that, even in these depressed economic times, is to nominate an electable alternative to Obama. And seeking to dismantle Social Security, a highly popular, deeply ingrained, amazingly successful program, isn't exactly the way to go. Rove is saying that even his party's extremes find that too extreme.

And that's saying something.

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