September 24, 2011

Uh oh. Rick Perry defending poor debate performance.

Fans of Rick Perry can't be happy with this.  The top story on Fox News website today is about Perry struggling to defend his position as GOP front runner.  There was a story on Fox & Friends this morning too that he's been quoted as saying that the country doesn't need the most polished debater.  That's an important comment that comes in reaction to reactions like these;

Pick Perry may not be the not-Romney candidate.  When you have to start defending your not so good performance in debates, you are in trouble.  People leading and moving forward don't need to engage in damage control.  He seems to have lost the narrative.

Worse still is the fact that he's wrong.  True, style over substance is not important for governance.  But as far as elections go, the opposite is true - it explains President Obama's meteoric rise in 2008.  His substance was weak and we all knew it, but in the end, style created insurmountable momentum for him.  While the president won't have that going for him in 2012, he can still debate with style.  For Perry to beat Obama he will have to engage in decisive debates against him.  He's seemingly not ready for that.  In an atmosphere where conservatives are in a mood for anyone who can beat Obama, Perry has encountered his first real hurdle since entering the race, and it's something he needs to overcome next time out if he doesn't want his base to erode.

UPDATE:  William Jacobson articulates exactly what I'm thinking. I'd like to think I'd have done as good a job if I'd taken the time to write the post more effectively instead of rushing to get my thoughts out there.

UPDATE:  Link to Perry quote added.


  1. "His substance was weak and we all knew it, but in the end, style created insurmountable momentum for him."

    Really his style? He stammers and stutters through answers. Every time he talks I think of this line "you put the wrong emPHAsis on the wrong syLLAble"

    How about being anointed by the media?

    A Republican was never going to win that election. Especially in the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns collapses. On issues Hillary was killing him in the later Primary debates, as illustrated by her success in some of the later primary elections. (at least that is my recollection of it. The 2008 election cycle was like watching a train wreck)

  2. I don't disagree with your point about him stuttering and stammering, and indeed getting things wrong like 57 states. The media covered for him and added to the misleading aura of greatness. But that's all part of the style over substance dynamic. They covered for his substance (content) and played up his style.

    When Palin hit the ticket, McCain, a weak candidate in his own right, got within 5% of Obama. But the myth was helped by the economic situation no doubt.

    My point is simply that being right on the issues is not enough. We have to be able to overcome the media bias and part of that is style. That along with well crafted sound bites and a constant drumming on the right themes that resonate with the less than fully engaged voters.

  3. I agree with you, I just thought you overstated Obama's actually oratory ability and not the fabricated one in your original post. It's not about being a polished debater as it is about being able to confront Obama on the issues without needing canned answers.

    The anti-Obama needs to be capable of being right on the issues, being able to articulate them, being willing to confront Obama and the media arm of his campaign when they are wrong or lying, AND must be charismatic.

    I don't know if that person is in the Race. I'm pretty sure from what I have seen so far that it's not Perry. It won't matter if Perry is right on any issue; if he can't debate other Republicans he'll never stand a chance against Obama, who's factually inaccurate statements will not be questioned. I am a little hopeful that some in the media will not be as overtly Pro-Obama this time around. They need to maintain some semblance of credibility.

    BTW. I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago ... good stuff.

  4. Thanks Itchy (two words I never envisioned going together), glad you like the blog.

    I was playing up Obama's oratory 'skills' for the purpose of the point about media and how debates will be perceived. I posted a while ago that Obama was not the oratory equivalent of a Jesse Jackson (and nowhere near a Reagan). His skills have all been amplified by the press. He's a lightweight. But that doesn't mean it won't take a heavyweight to topple him.

    I agree - the right candidate may not yet be in the race. While I don't support Romney I do think he's currently best equipped to out-debate both Obama and the press.

    Thanks for reading!


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