Yet, such is the environment of today's conservative movement. As long as a candidate can culturally identify with the base and tirelessly promote tax cuts, it does not matter if he was a terrible governor. As I watched the debate, I was taken back by Rick Perry's swagger and confidence. It is not just that he is ignorant, but rather that he is proudly ignorant. And it is not just that he is proudly ignorant, but rather that he will completely get away with it when Iowa and South Carolina come along.
I could not say what I am saying any better than Jonathan Chait:
The media seems to consider Romney the winner. Pardon the condescension, but they’re not thinking like Republican base voters. Romney approaches every question as if he is in an actual debate, trying to provide the most intellectually compelling answer available, within the bounds of political expediency. Perry treats questions as interruptions. What scientists do you trust on climate change? I don’t want to risk the economy. Are you taking a radical position on social security? We can have reasons or we can have results. His total liberation from the constraints of reason give Perry a chance to represent the Republican id in a way Romney simply cannot match.I have come to the conclusion that the Republican Party is not going to change anytime soon. Its target audience are people just like Rick Perry, those who are liberated from the constraints of reason. The Mitt Romneys of the Republican Party will for the foreseeable future face an uphill battle.
In this way Perry eerily apes the style of George W. Bush, who was also mocked for his intellectually vapid debating style, but who succeeded in rallying Republicans behind him. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I suspect the Bush-Perry debating style broadcasts a subliminal message of strong leadership. Romney feels compelled to bind himself to the parameters of the question before him. Perry ignores them. It is, in a sense, an alpha male move. I am not going to lower myself to your premise about scientists. I am going to declare my principles.
The Republican Party simply needs a new coalition.
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