Wednesday night, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) firmly established the negative stereotype of himself that was developing. It’s too bad it had to be such a vivid, dramatic illustration of what his critics and skeptics were beginning to talk about.
There is no way you can watch that video and feel like Perry is someone who would be a credible president. Is it fatal? Probably. But there is still a chance. Carter asks, what are the best practices for crisis management? Perry must keep hope alive by running a mistake-free campaign and count on other candidates to self-destruct. His future is no longer completely in his own hands. He must begin to layer last night’s performance with flawless performances. No amount of paid advertising will dilute the impact of what people were able to see for themselves.
Ronald Reagan was four years into his presidency when he had his debate debacle with former vice president Walter Mondale, and he only had to wait a few days before he had the chance to undo the damage. Dan Quayle’s debate disaster with Lloyd Bentsen was not a self-inflicted wound. As devastating as it was, Quayle was shot by Bentsen. He didn’t turn a gun on himself. It was easier to sympathize and rally around Quayle than it is with Perry.
In politics, bad gets worse. Barring a meteor strike, by Sunday this will be the defining moment of campaign 2012. It is already contributing to Herman Cain’s ability to stay in the race. Perry is in a very fragile position right now; and the news coverage already includes ridicule, which is a very difficult, if not impossible, obstacle to overcome. There aren’t many GOP leaders that are proud Perry supporters today. And there are no new volunteers or contributors. Period.