Texas Gov. Rick Perry isn’t scaring any of his competitors now, says Mike Huckabee. “You don’t say that the reason you’re not showing up [to debates] is that you can’t handle the pressure or the heat and you might make a gaffe. . . . What’s the new slogan, ‘Win one for the gaffer’?”

It’s scary when Bob Schieffer starts making sense. He scolds Herman Cain for the ad with Mark Block smoking. “Let me just tell you, it’s not funny to me. I don’t think it serves the country well, and this is an editorial opinion here, to be showing someone smoking a cigarette. You’re the front-runner now, and it seems to me as front-runner you would have a responsibility not to take that kind of a tone in this campaign. I would suggest that perhaps as the front-runner you’d want to raise the level in the campaign.”

Perry’s supporters should be scared that he sounds like Bob Dole. On Fox News Sunday, Perry says: “So, I feel very confident that as people take a look, they focus in on what’s important about getting America working again. They’re going to look at the plans. They’re going to look at the candidates. They’re going to look at the records. And they’re going to go, you know what, Rick Perry is who needs to be leading this country to get us out of the mess that Washington, D.C., has got us in.”

Perry scared off a lot of voters with his series of horrid debate performances. Mara Liasson is on to something: “And the question right now in the Republican race, is this going to become a two-man race? Is Rick Perry going to be able to revive his campaign enough to really challenge Romney, or does Romney have a relatively unimpeded path to the nomination? And so I think the answer to that question really depends a lot on Rick Perry and what he can do. And, you know, it’s a cliche to say you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, but Perry is really, really suffering from his first impression.”

They have reason to be scared. “U.S. lawmakers are worried the U.S. economy will be dragged down by problems in Europe despite a debt deal reached last week in Brussels. The European debt crisis is expected to be the top agenda item for President Obama when he attends this week’s G-20 summit in France, and members of Congress say Obama should pressure Europe to make good on its new deal.”

It is downright scary that President Obama would risk Iraq for a pre-election feel-good moment. “Our global credibility is seriously damaged — it is surely no accident that the weekend after President Obama announced that we were abandoning Iraq, President Hamid Karzai said that Afghanistan would stand with Pakistan against a U.S. attack. Why not? The Iranian and Pakistani narratives all along have been that the Americans will ultimately abandon their allies to their fate, while the neighbors will be around to exact revenge. President Obama has just reinforced that narrative before all the world. The United States will also pay a high moral price for this retreat. Tens of thousands of Iraqis sacrificed and put themselves and their families in enormous danger relying on the backing of the United States against our mutual enemies — al-Qaeda and Iranian militias. . . . Iran will be strengthened in the region, and Iraq’s traditional tensions with its Arab neighbors will suit Tehran’s policies.”

The New York Times’s report should scare Democrats. “At a time when the Republican National Committee remains weighed down by debt, outside conservative groups, freed from contribution limits by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision last year, are playing an ever-larger role and operating in an increasingly coordinated fashion. In the coming months, the conservative groups will consult among themselves as they open pre-election advertising barrages against Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats.”

What is scary is how little the president and the presidential contenders are talking about it. “Now, Social Security is sucking money out of the Treasury. This year, it will add a projected $46 billion to the nation’s budget problems, according to projections by system trustees. Replacing cash lost to a one-year payroll tax holiday will require an additional $105 billion. If the payroll tax break is expanded next year, as President Obama has proposed, Social Security will need an extra $267 billion to pay promised benefits. But while talk about fixing the nation’s finances has grown more urgent, fixing Social Security has largely vanished from the conversation.”