Rick Perry is dropping out of the presidential race. Pundits will break down the reasons for you: bad debate performances, gaffes, lameness on questions of foreign policy, and so on. Pundits will also break down the implications of his withdrawal: Will it really help Newt Gingrich? Will it help to crystallize the much-talked-about far-right challenge to Mitt Romney?
Well, perhaps you shouldn’t listen to those analyses, especially as they relate to the Texas governor. After all, behold what various pundits were saying about Perry after his debut performance on the debate platform, on Sept. 7.
Each pundit remark is followed by a Credulity Count, with “10” signifying complete purchase of conventional Rick Perry wisdom and “1” signifying actual wisdom.
Chris Matthews of MSNBC:
And ‘Let Me Finish’ tonight with why I’ve begun to betting — or actually, have begun to bet now it`s going to be Rick Perry as the Republican nominee against President Obama. . . . I think, right now, it`s Rick Perry. With all its successes, he has the gut of the Republican right. He has the anger, the contempt, the deep feelings of animosity that’s out there in the country right now. You get the sense he feels what he speaks, long before he speaks it. He’s out there on the stump seething with contempt for Washington.
Credulity Count: 8.5. Matthews didn’t consider that Perry needs to think about what he speaks, long before he speaks it.
Mike Allen of Politico :
After last night’s feisty duel at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, GOP nomination is a two-man race between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. . . . Rick Perry is real — not a bubble. He showed huge vulnerabilities with some answers but will be a ferocious and durable competitor. If I’m Mitt Romney, I wonder if my team should spend millions, IMMEDIATELY, defining this guy before he can define himself.
Credulity Count: 7.75. “Rick Perry is real — not a bubble”: Allen was close to the mark with that analysis; he had all the right words, just didn’t put them in the right place, as in: “Rick Perry is a bubble, not real.”
Ezra Klein of Washington Post:
Mitt Romney looked like he had already won the Republican nomination. Rick Perry looked like he will win the Republican nomination. Michele Bachmann looked like she was beginning to realize she definitely wouldn’t win the Republican nomination.
Credulity Count: 5. Two out of three!
Don Imus of Oblivion, Inc.:
Rick Perry. So that’s my guy now. Rick and Mitt.
Credulity Count: n/a
Joe Scarborough of MSNBC:
I think Rick Perry’s biggest problem is going to be the Social Security issue. He keeps calling it a Ponzi scheme. Now if you want to say Social Security’s a Ponzi scheme and this is what we need to do to fix it, that’s fine. But he doesn’t do that. He says it’s a Ponzi scheme, it’s a lie.
Credulity Count: 4. Perry only wishes that his position on Social Security had been his biggest problem.
Andrea Mitchell of NBC News:
It is a two-man race perhaps for tonight, for this week, but we see this thing evolve, we don’t know. Rick Perry is a very controversial candidate. Let’s see how he holds up.
Credulity Count: 2.75. Prophetic! Careful! Skeptical! Journalistic! Refreshing.
Karl Rove of Fox News:
Well, look, I, I think we don’t know yet. I, I love how we’re trying to come to a, you know, to a conclusion at the beginning of the process. Who’s really, tonight that’s gonna be taking the front of the Republican presidential sweepstakes to a new level? I remind you at, at, at this point four years ago, it was a two-man race as well. Thirty percent of Republican primary voters supported Rudy Giuliani and 27 percent supported — former Senator Fred Thompson. So, I mean that we are still relatively early in the process. We’ve got five months until people start voting and all kinds of things can and will happen.
Credulity Count: 1.25. Thanks, Karl.