Monday, October 24, 2011

Perry the Birther

I still think Rick Perry has a good shot at the Republican presidential nomination. Not so much because of his strengths but because of Mitt Romney's weaknesses, not to mention the weaknesses of the Republican field generally. Simply, conservatives are looking for someone other than Romney, an establishment type with a decidedly unconservative past whose support remains stuck in the 20s despite the fact that no one on the right -- not Bachmann, not Perry, not Cain -- has been able to muster much of a challenge thus far (even if Cain is in the lead in some polls, and in some states -- there's no way he sustains his current momentum).

Perry's major strength is that he's very much what conservatives are looking for, an evangelical Christian, a supply-sider, a gunslinger, and very much the antithesis of liberalism. Indeed, as Jon Chait has put it, he's "the walking embodiment of the Republican id."

His performance thus far, not least in the debates, has been, well, uninspiring, suggesting that he's just not ready to be anywhere near the presidency, but, having cratered, he may now be on the upswing, doing fairly well in last week's debate (for him, anyway) and otherwise benefitting from ridiculously low expectations. And if he can tap into that right-wing id, well, you never know. Certainly there are many Republicans -- the majority, perhaps -- who would gladly back him (and reject Romney once and for all).

So it's hardly surprising that he's talking Birtherism after a meeting with another id-ster, Donald Trump:

In April, in an effort to appease a vocal group of conspiracy theorists who believe President Obama was not born in the United States, Obama released his "long-form" birth certificate from Hawaii.

That wasn't enough, however, to convince Rick Perry. In an interview with PARADE Magazine, Perry said that he recently met with Donald Trump and discussed the issue. Perry stated that he doesn't "have a definitive answer" on whether Obama was born in the United States or "any idea" if Obama's birth certificate is real.

Uh-huh. Sure. Maybe he really is that stupid. Or maybe he knows he can make an issue of this with his core constituency on the far right.

Perry recently secured the endorsement of Orly Taitz, known as the "birther queen" for repeatedly filing lawsuits asserting that Obama was born outside the United States. Taitz told ThinkProgress that she believed Perry will use the birther issue to attack Obama.

There you go. It's all coming together.

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