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Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Cowboy Talk

John Spong of The Texas Monthly translates Perry for New York Magazine:

To those of us in Texas, the shitstorm kicked up by Rick Perry’s “we’d treat him pretty ugly” advisement to Fed chairman Ben Bernanke largely missed the point. Perry wasn’t threatening a literal lynching; he was talking the way he has throughout his undefeated political career, which gets at a far more essential fact of his fledgling presidential candidacy. As you may have already noticed — what with Perry’s constant claims to having authored a “Texas Economic Miracle,” or the footage of him leading thousands in prayer at the Houston Texans’ football stadium, or the wire photos of him waving a pistol over his head at a NASCAR event in Fort Worth in April — Rick Perry is from Texas.

"Treat him pretty ugly” is, in fact, the way we talk down here. We’re prone to violent imagery, typically without the intent to actually hurt anyone. Ann Richards’s Republican opponent when she first ran for governor, Clayton Williams, actually survived a campaign-trail rape joke. (She didn’t pass him in the polls until he refused to shake her hand after a debate.) What’s more, we use terms like “shitstorm” in public as naturally as “y’all.” Though Perry has avoided that specific bit of profanity with the press, he was once caught on-camera mocking a reporter at the close of an interview by saying, “Adios, mofo.” He’s also shown an inclination to our trademark Big Talk, as evidenced by his willingness to consider secession at an Austin tax day event in 2009. When people say everything’s bigger in Texas, they don’t mean to exclude the rhetoric.

Jonathan Martin and Jake Sherman write at Politico:

Cut the cowboy talk.

That’s the message congressional Republicans facing the prospect of sharing a ballot next year with Rick Perry have for the newest GOP presidential candidate.

In a series of interviews, uncommitted Republican members praised the Texas governor’s economic record but called his suggestion that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is guilty of treason a serious misstep and said that kind of inflammatory talk could scare off swing voters.

House Republicans from heavily suburban districts were particularly uneasy about the Bernanke remark and Perry’s refusal to say whether President Barack Obama is a patriot. These members, some of them facing potentially tough reelection campaigns next year, urged the White House hopeful to stick to core issues of jobs and spending.

“You can’t be calling Bernanke a traitor and you can’t be questioning whether or not Barack Obama loves America, that type of thing,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and veteran Long Island incumbent. “I’ve been with Perry a few times, and I can see how he could project, again, if it’s done the right way. But no, if he continues this, he’ll have a tough time.”