Rick Perry is not running for a fourth term as governor of Texas.
He announced this news Monday, showed a video of his accomplishments as governor, quoted Ecclesiastes, and sampled all the trademark Rick Perry behaviors we have come to know and love (well, short of forcing everyone to pray for rain, then dragging them into a special session to pass anti-abortion legislation the people of Texas did not want).
The looming end of his term (just 18 months away) frees his schedule up considerably. It gives him time to do such exciting things as learn the names of all the departments of government that he disapproves of, drive a car threateningly past Ben Bernanke’s house late at night, and serenade strangers in the restroom with “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” as, apparently, is his wont.
And, of course, think about a presidential run in 2016.
So-called insiders are already pointing out why it would be a bad idea for him to run. They say reasonable-sounding things, like, “Are you kidding me? Rick Perry?”
Sure, he fizzled in 2012, a year when a piece of damp cardboard led the field for a full 6 weeks after someone pointed out it was not Mitt Romney. So how could he expect to prevail against people such as Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, who not only are actual live humans but also possess the significant advantages of not being Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain or The Individual Under Donald Trump’s Hair? He couldn’t beat Rick Santorum, and you couldn’t even Google Rick Santorum!
But these so-called insiders are full of sour grapes. Two years is plenty of time to figure out things like: “When is election day?” “What is foreign policy?” “Should you put aviation assets in the ground?” and “How do you make an attack on an opponent during a debate that sounds marginally more threatening than being savaged by a drunk teddy bear?” (“Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of — against the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment? Was it — was before — he was before the social programs from the standpoint of — he was for standing up for Roe v. Wade before he was against first — Roe v. Wade?”)
But forget the naysayers.
He still might not be able to alter the past, or the name of his ranch, and he may not be able to evolve any of his positions, since he doesn’t believe in evolution (“It’s a theory that’s out there,” he said in 2011), but — well, my first reason for a second Perry campaign is also the simplest: How much worse could it possibly be?
He’s already shouted “Live free or die! Victory or death! Bring it!” in a slurred, bizarre fashion at a New Hampshire dinner. He’s already said “Oops!” in a major national debate. He’s done everything short of pulling an Anthony Weiner on Twitter, and — if New York polls are any indication — that’s not something the voters of America are bothered by.
This brings me to my second reason: second chances. We are, apparently, very much fans of second chances these days. Eliot Spitzer is running for comptroller in New York City. Anthony Weiner is running for mayor — and leading, even though we have all seen his lurking trouser weasel. Mark Sanford is once more a member of Congress. Comebacks are everywhere, like kudzu or 2016 speculation.
Sure, when people talk about second chances, they usually mean comebacks after some sort of sexual misconduct. Have an affair? Get back in that political saddle and ride away! We don’t care what you do in the bedroom, unless the bedroom is where you take in-kind bribes from sinister corporations. Sometimes not even then. Of course there are second acts in American lives. F. Scott Fitzgerald had too much to drink and didn’t know what he was talking about. If Rick Perry trains hard, running up flights of stairs while reciting the names of government departments, familiarizing himself with human words and behaviors, maybe he can do for people who have said idiotic things on the national stage what Mark Sanford has done for people who are, well, Mark Sanford. This is America, where you can put anything in your mouth except your foot. And maybe even that.
I can’t remember the third reason.