On Friday I asked readers what Texas Gov. Rick Perry needs to accomplish in the debate of Republican presidential candidates this week. Two commenters hit the nail on the head. Smb1138 wrote, in part:
Perry’s challenge in the debate will be to separate himself from the boogieman mythos that has been building around him since before he even announced his candidacy. Specifically, I would recommend that he and his staffers prepare to offer the following:
1. Perry needs to once and for all debunk the myth that he is stupid. Any flubs in his speeches, whether factual or just stylistic, will be seized by the media and repeated over and over again from now till Election Day as evidence of this, so his responses needs to be polished shinier than the footwear at boot camp.
2. On that note, Perry needs to show that he is ready to govern the country, not just rabble-rouse conservative activists. When I watch the debate, I will be looking to see if he responds to questions with substantive answers, or if he just relies on meaningless stock phrases and nasty personal attacks. He doesn’t need to be brilliant, but simply demonstrate that he understands the issues facing the country and would be ready from day one to address them.
3. Finally, Perry needs to explain how his record as governor fits into his broader political philosophy. For example, as governor, Perry supported in-state tuition for illegal immigrants who attended a Texas high school. Will he support such a policy on the national level? Perry followed the advice of the pharmaceutical industry and public health specialists in mandating the HPV vaccine for Texas students, much to the dismay of his conservative (and especially evangelical) base. Will he make decisions as president in a similar manner?
In a similar vein, Donald Johnson advises:
Perry and the Republicans must get specific about how they would stimulate consumer spending and hiring. My eight ideas:
1. Stop double taxation of corporations by cutting corporate taxes to zero. Tax all businesses like multilateral partnerships.
2. Maintain dividend income taxes at 15 percent so investors will put more money to work in the bond and stock markets and spend more on cars, boats, houses, home furnishings, landscaping services, travel and iPads.
3. Condition repatriation of corporations’ foreign profits on their agreement to invest the money in new businesses and on expanding existing businesses. . . .
4. Capital expenditures should be depreciated in one to two years so that companies can reduce costs quickly and be more competitive in global markets.
5. Reform taxes to the advantage of all Americans, not to exceptional benefit of the favored few who can afford to be K Street clients and big campaign contributors to Congressional and presidential candidates.
6. Cut the budgets of the Education, Energy, Interior, . . . [Health and Human Services], Homeland Security, Labor, . . . [Agriculture] and Commerce Depts. as well as those of . . . [the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board] by as much as needed to balance the budget in five years. These are job-killing agencies that must be defanged, shrunk and reformed.
7. Reform K-12 education to ensure that all kids with basic academic potential will enter the working world with outstanding reading, writing and arithmetic skills. . . .
8. Cut the 37 new agencies created under Obamacare and eliminate all mandated benefits and exceptions that are in the legislation. . . .
I was struck by two important assumptions running through the answers. First, unlike many in the right blogosphere, the readers did not dismiss criticisms of Perry out of hand or characterize them as creations of the liberal media. They want to put Perry through the paces, and they understand there are real concerns about his candidacy. Second, it is apparent that readers are sick of platitudes and one-liners; they want detailed proposals and an explanation as to how the candidate’s background equips him to deal with our current national challenges. If Right Turn readers are representative of the Republican primary electorate, the party is in very good hands. The primary process is a time for not only choosing, but probing and testing.