History, not math. (Dave Einsel/Associated Press)

Most recently, he misnumbered and misidentified the Supreme Court justices, saying there were eight of them and flubbing the name of Sonia Sotomayor. “Not Montemayor,” he said to the Des Moines Register editorial board, after a six-second pause.

No wonder he dismisses them as activist judges. They’re tricky, changing their number when you turn your back, and concocting those strange names for themselves. If they can’t be trusted to stay put and have simple, monosyllabic names, how can they be trusted to keep prayer in schools?

But this worries me. It’s not merely things in threes — cabinet departments, say — that trouble Perry. It’s also multiples of three. And can you imagine him running into a head of a foreign state? “Hi there,” he mumbles. “Mr. Not Merlusconi.”

How does he get through life? “You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen — but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all, uh, Not Montemayor?”

Perry has been leaving baseball games after the eighth inning for years, looking bewildered that no one else is joining him. “Game’s over, people,” he says. This also happens when he plays the back eight in golf.

“Stich in time saves eight,” Perry adds.

To Perry, there are only eight circles of Hell, including the one where you are perpetually buffeted by strong windbags in the course of multi-hour debates, in which he currently resides.

“The eight planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the naughty one, Neptune, and — Not Montemayor,” he said. There are only eight planets now, so he’s technically right, but for years he wasn’t.

He calls the Herman Cain plan 8-8-8.

He refers to the three musketeers as Whoseyface, Whatsit, and “Not Montemayor.”

It seems almost cruel to point out Perry’s mistakes at this point. No one is taking him seriously. He scarcely seems to be taking himself seriously. Meanwhile Newt Gingrich is calling the Palestinians an “invented people.” And he’s still the front-runner!

But think of the damp, enraged kitten of his campaign. You know what they say about cats.

“Yup,” Perry says. “Eight lives.”