Well, Rick Perry is back, and the foot in his mouth that traditionally accompanies him everywhere is back as well.
I feel dimly that this is my fault. Once, at a crossroads, gazing over a bleak primary field where Newt “I Must Visit Every Zoo” Gingrich appeared to be the weirdest frontrunner, I softly wished that Rick “Oops” Perry would slip back onto the national scene. He was so much fun to watch, forgetting the Cabinet offices he wished to get rid of at debates, delivering eerie, rambling speeches (“Victory or death! Bring it!”), and allegedly singing “I’ll Be Working On The Railroad” in the men’s restroom to the alarm of others present. He was, in short, the kind of thing that people who cover elections wish for at crossroads at twilight.
Well, he’s back, but now there are stakes. He’s called for another special legislative session in Texas starting July 1, explicitly to pass anti-abortion legislation that a majority of Texans do not want. This after the dramatic eleven-hour eleventh hour filibuster by state senator Wendy Davis. Rick Perry went so far as to explain to the National Right To Life Conference that “She was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.”
“It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example”? Can he hear himself?
There’s mansplaining and then there’s mansplaining. I hate the term almost as much as I hate the phenomenon — that process whereby a man explains a subject that you know quite well, in fact better than he does, in the most condescending way possible. “Computer programming,” the mansplainer says to Grace Hopper, “well, it’s like knitting, but oh-so-much nicer!”
“Well, writing is like making tea, Ginny,” the mansplainer tells Virginia Woolf, “but a book doesn’t whistle when it’s done!”
“Space,” a mansplainer says to Sally Ride, “well, it’s a little like the supermarket, but harder to breathe in!”
But I’ve never seen someone mansplain someone else’s biography before. Davis has already issued a statement saying his remark was “without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds” and commented that “it really isn’t for him to make statements like that.” She’d gotten through life quite well, thank you, not knowing that her entire existence was a handy fable for Perry to whip out at conferences.
Seriously. The essence of her position is that she can’t presume to put herself in someone else’s shoes to make a difficult decision for them (she’s got her own shoes, and they are a vibrant pink with great arch support) but here’s Rick Perry, insisting that he knows the point of her life better than she does. And we wonder why so many people are irate that he wants to make their decisions for them.