Back to previous page


The gaffe behind Perry’s gaffe

By Ezra Klein,

<iframe frameborder=”0” scrolling=”no” marginheight=”0” marginwidth=”0” width=”480px” height=”270px” src=”http://specials.washingtonpost.com/mv/embed/?title=Rick%20Perry’s%20GOP%20debate%20’oops’&stillURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Frf%2Fimage_606w%2F2010-2019%2FWashingtonPost%2F2011%2F11%2F10%2FNational-Politics%2FVideos%2F11092011-99v%2F11092011-99v.jpg&flvURL=%2Fmedia%2F2011%2F11%2F09%2F11092011-99v.m4v&width=480&height=270&autoStart=0&clickThru=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fpolitics%2Frick-perrys-gop-debate-oops%2F2011%2F11%2F09%2FgIQAumzo6M_video.html”></iframe>

Catch Rick Perry on a good day and I bet he could name the three government agencies he would axe. But I bet he couldn’t tell you how he would do it. After all, the Commerce Department contains the Census Bureau. And you can’t just get rid of the Census. The Constitution is pretty clear on that point. And you probably don’t want to get rid of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Or, to head over to the Department of Energy, is Perry really proposing to shut down the National Nuclear Security Administration? Or Los Alamos National Laboratory?

Presumably not. If Perry managed to win the presidency, he would either forget about this promise or unveil a boring governmental reorganization proposal along the lines Matt Yglesias gestures toward here. As Perry is finding out, it’s not exactly good politics to forget one of the three government agencies you want to pretend to have plans to eliminate. But as he probably won’t find out, it would be vastly worse politics to actually try and eliminate those agencies and everything within them.

© The Washington Post Company