By Dick Morris - 07/22/14 07:19 PM EDT
By sending 1,000 National Guardsmen to the Texas-Mexico border, Gov. Rick Perry (R) is stepping up to challenge the president and fill the vacuum left by his lack of leadership in a way other possible presidential candidates cannot match.
For the legions of Republicans and independents who ask with frustration, “will nobody stand up to this president,” Perry’s boldness and courage come as a welcome relief. Legislators can only talk. Governors can act.
But Perry saw that this party and this nation wanted action, and he gave it to them.
Let’s remember that the two policy gaffes that got him in trouble in the 2012 election cycle were when he backed in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and criticized opponents of immigration for lacking “a heart.” His tough action on the border will do a lot to erase these unpleasant memories.
With Clark Kent-style black glasses and sans cowboy boots, will the new Rick Perry do better than his previous incarnation did?
There are seeds of hope in his candid comment that “The biggest error in judgment I made [in 2011] was thinking that, just because I’d been the governor in the state of Texas, I was prepared to run for the presidency of the United States. It is very different in the sense of having a global grasp of what’s going on in the world.”
Perry’s infamous moment when he couldn’t name the three federal Cabinet departments he’d eliminate was just the straw that broke his back. Before that, in answer after answer, he was constantly drawling “in the state a Texas,” as if he were seeking another term in Austin. It was obvious that he had no grasp of federal issues, national economics, or foreign policy nor any particular interest in acquiring one.
As a candidate, he resembled a caricature depicted in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” sliding one by us once more.
But, if he is really willing to work at ramping up his intellectual firepower to the level required to run for president, he could win. Swagger is fine in a candidate, but intellectual arrogance is not. And laziness is inexcusable. Perry says he was ill last time and performed subpar. We’ll see.
Republicans like their candidates to have gone through the legitimacy of losing before they finally win the prize of the nomination. Romney, McCain, Dole, Bush 41, Reagan and Nixon all lost before they eventually got nominated.
Of the alumni class of 2012, only Perry can really stake a claim. Santorum was too much of a fringe candidate, and Romney would face big obstacles in convincing us to trust him again.
So, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio duke it out for the Tea Party nod as the insurgent Republican, look for Perry, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and possibly former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to battle it out for the establishment designation.
Then the winners will meet in the semifinals. With Bush uncertain about running and Christie hobbled by his bridge scandal, the early betting has to be Perry vs. Cruz — an all-Texas runoff.
Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Clinton, is the author of 16 books, including his latest, Screwed and Here Come the Black Helicopters. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to dickmorris.com.