Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This is My Moment - My Moment!

Rick Perry has launched his campaign, along the way suggesting that if Ben Bernanke visits Texas, he might be treated to a little chin music. Official story here, Krugman reaction here, Yglesias post with video here. Here's my transcription of the video. Perry is responding to a question about the Federal Reserve - we don't hear the question:

Oh, the Federal Reserve. I'll take a pass on the Federal Reserve right at the moment, to be real honest with you, but I know there's a lot of talk and what-have-you about him. If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all will do to him in Iowa, but we'd - we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. I mean, printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history, is almost treacherous, uh, treasonous, in my opinion.

Okay, so. The macroeconomic theory implicit in Perry's response is of course asinine, reminiscent of Tim Pawlenty's infamous accusation that Obama has stealthily turned the dollar into a fiat currency. This is a good test of Perry's intelligence and/or character - if he were adequate in both categories, then he never would have said anything like this. And of course, when it comes to the violence, what the fuck?

But to me, the real test here is for Romney. Does he have the courage and skill to go on the attack? Can he turn this into a macaca moment? Here's how I envision it (slightly exaggerated to emphasize my point):

Yesterday Rick Perry made three shocking suggestions about the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. I won't spend much time on the first, since we all know that Rick Perry doesn't want to see any harm come to Chairman Bernanke. But the second suggestion, that Chairman Bernanke might goose the economy to get President Obama re-elected, is beyond the pale. If Rick Perry has any reason to doubt Chairman Bernanke's honor or his dedication to public service, he should say so. Otherwise he should keep his mouth shut. President Obama has plunged first the U.S., and now the world, into the deepest recession since the Great Depression. This is not Chairman Bernanke's fault, and I believe he has done his best to keep the economy afloat. His motivation is not partisan. He is just doing his best to create jobs. It's one thing to oppose Chairman Bernanke's monetary policy. A lot of reasonable people have reservations about some of the measures the Fed has taken during the Obama recession, and I count myself among them. But to impugn Chairman Bernanke's honor from the cheap seats, as Rick has done, is completely uncalled for.

But what I find really disturbing is Rick's suggestion that taking measures to improve the job market before November of 2012 would be treasonous. Now, I want to see Obama defeated in 2012 as much as anyone. In fact, I think we're not going to see real job creation in this country until businesses know that a market-friendly administration is on the way. But let me be clear: I wouldn't sacrifice one job, not one job, to improve my political chances. Americans don't need jobs in 2012, they need jobs right now. There's only one person I want to see lose his job, and it's the guy who's responsible for this whole mess: President Obama. Are you going to help me? Are you going to help me make him a [crowd joins in] ONE TERM PRESIDENT!

Okay, so, I'm no speechwriter. But I think Romney (not a spokesman) should say something along these lines, suitably toned down (but maintaining the Rick/Chairman Bernanke dichotomy, to belittle Perry and associate Romney with the institutional dignity of the Fed). He needs to show that he's not afraid of Perry, that Perry is a blowhard who doesn't understand the economy, that Perry is a bit of a crazy man who wants Texas thugs to beat the shit out of a nice Jewish boy from South Carolina.

Perry will probably learn not to say stupid things in public, other than when he's articulating the Republican agenda. Better for Romney if this inevitable moderation in tone makes Perry look more like a child who has been spanked by Romney than like a Texas conservative finding his footing on the national stage.


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