Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rick Perry vs Jon Stewart

Rick Perry and Jon Stewart

This week, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) got into the ring with a heavyweight and came out unscathed. Rick Perry is making the media rounds plugging his book "Fed Up!" One of his stops was "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." Jon Stewart didn't lay a glove on him.

After the jump, some thoughts about the highly anticipated (at least in Texas) match of wits.

Perry opened by saying he just wants Washington to leave the states alone. He objected to the Obama administration's environmental regulations. He said Texas has been cleaning up its air and water just fine on its own. That's an eyebrow-raising claim, but one he got away with as Stewart questioned the principle, not the facts, asking if Texas should have the right, if it chose, to pollute or put lead in our paint or salmonella in our food. But Stewart didn't force Perry to address the issue. With the escape, award the (anti-Washington) point to Perry.

Perry said the country went off-track a hundred years ago with the federal income tax and later with government programs enacted during the Great Depression. Stewart questioned whether many people want to go back to a pre-1920s America when "children worked in factories [and] women weren't allowed to vote." Perry's response was, "I get that," which let him keep his anti-government street cred without getting pinned with an anti-children or anti-women charge. Award the (anti-tax) point to Perry.

Perry bragged that California companies are moving to Texas. Stewart compared that to American companies moving jobs to India. Perry deftly escaped the implication by asking, "You want to live in India or do you want to live in Texas?" Stewart's own riposte, "Seriously?" got a laugh, but Perry had already slipped the hold. Award the (anti-California, anti-India) point to Perry.

Stewart questioned whether Perry cherry-picked those parts of the Constitution he likes. Perry's nimble response, "A little," got his own laugh and turned a valid criticism of Perry's bashing of the Supreme Court into his own light-hearted joke. Again, award the (anti-judges) point to Perry.

Stewart brought up Perry's infamous suggestion that Texas just might secede if things don't go its way. Perry replied been-there, done-that, "we'd just as soon stay with you guys." A threat of secession won the Tea Partyers over when Perry suggested it in Texas last Spring, but now that he's courting a national electorate, he tosses secession aside. Award a big (I'm not nutty) point to Perry.

All in all, Perry's performance was impressive, doubly so because of the venue. He managed to get his talking points across while dodging all of Jon Stewart's pointed questions. He was articulate, prepared and good-natured. He did not look like a kook. He did sound (and look) a little like a used car salesman, but even that is probably a plus. He is in the selling business, right?

Perry will be a formidable candidate for President in 2012. And after watching his Daily Show interview, there can be no doubt that he's available and ready.

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