In today’s Wall Street Journal, there is an op-ed under Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s name. It hits all the right notes on why the U.S. must support Israel at the U.N. It cites facts and figures. It is briskly written in a style reminiscent of the keenest pro-Israel conservatives. And Perry almost certainly didn’t write it.
We know that because his own foreign policy views are rudimentary. His instincts are solid, especially on Israel. But he’s yet to demonstrate a grasp of foreign policy particulars. A ghostwritten piece so far above his current abilities highlights the concern.
It is true that most pols have these things written for them, though I am confident that Rick Santorum could have written such a piece on his own. We know Mitt Romney can speak, and hence write, in some detail, for example, on Iran and China, and with a great deal of detail on economics. And Newt Gingrich’s ideas and words, while some of it veers into goofiness, are his own.
Perry’s problem is not what he thinks or where his values lie on foreign policy. His challenge is to shed the image of a novice with a sparse understanding of the nuts and bolts of foreign policy. His campaign advisors should resist the urge to portray him as a guru, and instead take the time to educate and develop their candidate’s knowledge. And until he personally could articulate his thoughts in detail, they should forgo the pretense of sophistication. It’s likely to cause more problems than it solves. Good grief — what if he were asked in a debate or on the stump to spell out the substance of the op-ed (without notes or cue cards)? Could he do it? If there’s even some doubt that he could, he should cease having others do his homework for him and instead hit the books.