Friday, December 30, 2011

It's hard to defend Rick Perry

Not that I felt the need to defend him. But before clicking on this link that was preempted by Andrew Sullivan asking how dumb Perry is, I wanted to give Perry the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't dumb so much as he may have misspoken. Andrew probably wasn't being hyperbolic:

When told that the Supreme Court case struck down the Texas sodomy law, Perry said, “My position on traditional marriage is clear and I don’t know need a law. I don’t need a federal law case to explain it to me.”

The Texas governor referenced Lawrence v. Texas in his 2010 book Fed Up!, calling it one of the court cases in which “Texans have a different view of the world than do the nine oligarchs in robes.”

This was in response to being asked his opinion on the SC case that struck down anti-sodomy laws. He says he doesn't know the case, and that he shouldn't know it because he isn't a lawyer nor is trying to be one. Yeah, why would the president need to know the law in some capacity? It's not like the president is part of the legislative process or anything.

If that's not bad enough, he goes on to conflate gay marriage with sodomy. The case he was asked about wasn't about gay marriage. It was about whether the state has the right to keep people from partaking in certain sexual activities. Gay marriage is about whether the state should recognize the relationship of gay couples. So not only does he not care about the law despite wanting to be president, he doesn't understand policy issues.

But if that wasn't bad enough, it turns out that he criticized the case in his book. Giving him the benefit of the doubt that he actually read about the case himself in the process or writing his book, that would mean he doesn't remember these types of things well. He could have had a brain fart, but to still play ignorant after being told what the case was about after you had previously written about it in your book isn't the most comforting trait in a presidential candidate, much less a governor.

Not giving him the benefit of the doubt, he had someone else write that for his book, and possibly more for the book. And that would mean he is a hack that just wanted to make money off of his position in public office. That's probably commonplace. But at least familiarize yourself with the content of the book you're attaching your name to.

The worst part about that last paragraph is the comment about the SC justices being oligarchs. Again Perry fundamentally doesn't understand the nature of our system of gov't. The Constitution, that document conservatives like Perry say they value so much, says that the job of those oligarch is black robes is to interpret the law. It's their job to say whether Texas can outlaw sodomy. Just because you don't like what they decide doesn't mean they are oligarchs and thus somehow illegitimate.

At best Perry is playing extremely ignorant here. If he understands the basic structure of our gov't he sure doesn't display that understanding here. If he understands important policy questions and what role the president plays in making laws he doesn't display that here. At worst Perry is what Andrew suggests, dumb. I won't go so far as to agree with Andrew because I can't see inside Perry's mind. But it's really difficult to continue to defend Perry and excuse these types of comments as just strategic ignorance.

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