Political Animal


August 22, 2011 10:45 AM You wrote it; you own it

By Steve Benen

While so many books from politicians are dull, awful, and immediately forgettable, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) actually put together an interesting book last year: Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington. It was published just nine months ago, well before Perry expected to be a leading presidential candidate.

The book offers a surprisingly helpful look at Perry’s ideology and worldview, including his disgust for Social Security and bank regulations, his belief in global “cooling,” and some bizarre ideas about what caused the Civil War. My personal favorite is Perry’s belief that the Great Depression ended during World War II, “when FDR was finally persuaded to unleash private enterprise,” which is practically the exact opposite of what happened.

But this was nine months ago. Now, Perry the presidential candidate doesn’t much care for the book written by Perry the governor.

His communications director, Ray Sullivan, said Thursday that … “Fed Up!” is not meant to reflect the governor’s current views on how to fix [Social Security]. […]

In an interview, Mr. Sullivan acknowledged that many passages in Mr. Perry’s “Fed Up!” could dog his presidential campaign. The book, Mr. Sullivan said, “is a look back, not a path forward.” It was written “as a review and critique of 50 years of federal excesses, not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto,” Mr. Sullivan said.

The campaign’s disavowal of “Fed Up!” is itself very new. On Sunday evening, at Mr. Perry’s first campaign stop in Iowa, a questioner asked the governor to talk about how he would fix the country’s rickety entitlement programs. Mr. Perry shot back: “Have you read my book, ‘Fed Up!’ Get a copy and read it.”

This just won’t do. Perry not only supported the ideas in his own book when he wrote it nine months ago, he was still touting it eight days ago. His campaign doesn’t get to simply sweep an entire book under the rug.

As Ian Millhiser put it, “Fed Up is not some 20-year-old graduate school thesis that Perry wrote before he served in elected office. It is a substantial, nationally published manifesto that Perry was proudly signing at book tours just a few months ago.”

I can appreciate why Perry’s embarrassed by his published radicalism now, but that hardly justifies pretending the governor doesn’t agree with his own book now.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • penalcolony on August 22, 2011 10:46 AM:

    Shorter Perry: My homework ate the dog.

  • stormskies on August 22, 2011 10:59 AM:

    And how much difference is there between these spluttering rants of a completely deranged buffoon and the percentage of our population that shows up with signs at tea party rallies that say 'keep government away from my medicare' ?

    It's quite a testimony what our country has become that such a spluttering idiot can even be considered as a candidate for the President of our country....no different than the rest of the entire field of spluttering incoherency of all the Repiglican candidates except Huntsmen because he is still connected to actual reality ..

  • Perspecticus on August 22, 2011 11:01 AM:

    "His campaign doesn’t get to simply sweep an entire book under the rug."

    Y'know, up until about a decade ago, I would have agreed with you. Now? Not so much.

  • Varecia on August 22, 2011 11:07 AM:

    Roosevelt did a lot of different things over time, but it was his Keynesian WPA response to the 1937-38 'Roosevelt Recession,' combined with World War II defense spending, that finally broke the cycle.

  • hornblower on August 22, 2011 11:09 AM:

    Does anyone recall a book written in 1924 by a German guy with a funny mustache? He set out a blueprint for what he would do if he came to power. If Perry moves on up no one will be able to say they were unaware of his plans.

  • Josef K on August 22, 2011 11:09 AM:

    Now, Perry the presidential candidate doesn’t much care for the book written by Perry the governor.

    Darn. When this came up a week or two ago, I was sure Perry was going to pull what Ralph Reed did for then-boss Pat Roberston and blame it all on ghostwriters. Instead, Perry's own communication's direction just dismisses the whole book as irrelevant.

    That's actually a pretty good strategy. It gives his supports and the Tea Partiers a reason to not read the book, which Perry will then continue to quote from and treat as relevant. His supporters will consequently never realize none of this is new or original, and thereby hang on his every word.

    I may actually be giving his supporters too much credit, in that actually understanding the insanity he's proposing may be beyond them. Perhaps all he needs to do is repeat some select code-words and they'll all fall in line; after all, how much interest does the likely Republican voter show in historical detail?

  • T-Rex on August 22, 2011 11:16 AM:

    Of course he stopped agreeing with himself, as soon as someone explained to him that he had to win the general election as well as the primaries. From now on, all opinions expressed in the book will be conveyed with dog-whistles only, not at audible pitch, while any and all publication of the book's contents will be blamed on "gotcha" journalism by the leftist press which has, of course, taken him out of context. That's Ann Coulter's favorite old standby -- unless you discuss the entire contents of the book, it's off limits to discuss one particularly outrageous claim in it.

  • Athena on August 22, 2011 11:41 AM:

    I'm Fed Up with Perry because he's F'ed Up.

  • JW on August 22, 2011 11:50 AM:

    Doggone. This "look back, not forward", and "look forward, not back" dodge sure comes in handy with politicians, doesn't it?

  • rrk1 on August 22, 2011 11:52 AM:

    It won't matter what Perry has said, written, thought, prayed or fantasized. His supporters don't know or care about any of it beyond he's for Jesus, and he's against Washington. I predict nothing will stick to him, just like nothing stuck to Bush.

    The media, of course, are giving him an easy time, if not a free pass. Even if some intelligent, probing questions get asked, he won't answer, and he'll do what Bachmann and Palin do: prevent the media from getting close to him.

    The only way Perry will be stopped is with some sort of Rove generated dirty trick. Otherwise this Texas crook that you can have a beer with is on his way to the White House.

    H.L. Mencken – (Where are you now?)

    “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

  • espell on August 22, 2011 12:19 PM:

    His communications director, Ray Sullivan, said Thursday that … “Fed Up!” is not meant to reflect the governor’s current views on how to fix [Social Security]. […]

    This reminds me of the Senator's comment(-was it Kyl?) on Planned Parenthood where his staff came back and said it "was not intended to be a factual statement".

  • Diane Rodriguez on August 22, 2011 12:20 PM:

    Perry rocks his own brand of I-am-the-MESSIAH-insanity and everything he does is in furtherance of that cause. The book was written to line his pockets and he knew when he wrote it thst he was running for office. Lying is not an issue as he sees himself as completely infallible and all his actions are excused or dictated by God. In today's politics that meme is steadfastly supported by the media. Questioning "divine messages" is unpatriotic and un Christian. Purporting to receive these messages is proff of being a "serious" candidate.

  • DAY on August 22, 2011 12:21 PM:

    I'm a recent (this morning) convert to believing in reincarnation.
    Apparently Pat Paulson is back, and once again he is running for president.

    (This one's for you, c u n d gulag. . .)

  • sceptic on August 22, 2011 12:24 PM:

    I suggest we show up at all Perry events with signs asking why Rick thinks Social Security is unconstitutional and with popovers to offer him to stuff in his mouth to avoid answering questions.

  • FRP on August 22, 2011 12:47 PM:

    Any one raised to count to five , and then ten , using their fingers as a fall back guide , will be using advanced techniques to confuse then manipulate the issue .
    The trick is to put doctors , engineers , and lawyers behind shovels and spades , and then simultaneously put murderers , rapists , and sociopaths on every corner espousing the democratization of facts !

    If you want America to be the tippy top unquestioned lion of world affairs ?
    Just vote !

    If you want Global warming to be Global cooling
    Vote !
    No more gloomy Gus's spoiling the party .

    Boys waiting for their chances
    Can find a Witch decide and burn her
    Agonies charting for quick
    For every day that ends in Y
    Echoing loud and painful cries
    Romance is why the good , they need to die

    Ambition is the hallowed ground
    Why wait for lambs to slaughter
    Women doomed instead of reason
    Strong men they just don't hesitate
    Bestowing hot infernal mercies
    On all those days that end in Y
    Ambitions licking heat embraced
    Change the screams from case to case

  • buckyblue on August 22, 2011 2:45 PM:

    I think we can safely call this Rick Perry's "Mitt Romney" moment. All that crap I did and said before, well, ignore it. I believe this other crap now.

  • kk on August 22, 2011 3:30 PM:

    I don't think "Perry's embarrassed by his published radicalism now" or that "the governor doesn't agree with his own book now."

    It sounds like Perry still believes exactly what he wrote.

    It's his campaign officials who are now scrambling to put lipstick on this pig, because they'll soon be out of jobs if they can't somehow prettify at least some of the crazy bullshit Perry believes.

  • Anonymous on August 22, 2011 4:30 PM:

    I guess it's true that if you write it, you own it, so you can't be accused of plagiarizing yourself, but do you know you repeated a sentence and a half verbatim from a week ago? Namely "his disgust for Social Security . . . . My personal favorite . . . the exact opposite of what happened."


    Feels like rerun season.