Political Animal


October 24, 2011 8:00 AM How far Perry is willing to go

By Steve Benen

It’s been about five months since the White House took the extraordinary step of unveiling President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, ending the “Birther” conspiracy theory once and for all. With the questions answered, unhinged conservatives were forced to move on to other areas of nonsense.

Well, most of them, anyway.

New comments by Rick Perry in Parade magazine have revived the issue of whether the Texas governor believes that President Obama was born in the United States.

In the interview, Mr. Perry was asked if Mr. Obama was born in the United States, and he replied, “I have no reason to think otherwise.” When pressed, he said, “Well, I don’t have a definitive answer.”

As part of the interview, Perry said the president hadn’t seen his birth certificate. When Parade said the governor had seen Obama’s, Perry replied, “I don’t know. Have I?”

Pressed further on whether he questions the legitimacy of the documents, Perry said, “I had dinner with Donald Trump the other night…. He doesn’t think it’s real.” Asked if he believes the materials are real, Perry said, “I don’t have any idea,” before concluding that the issue is “distractive.”

Not distractive enough to avoid discussing in an interview, apparently.

My first instinct is to consider the strategy behind comments like these. Does Perry have polling that suggests there’s still a lot of Birthers who, for example, are likely to participate in the Iowa caucuses? Is this part of the governor’s strategy to reconnect with the GOP’s right-wing base? Maybe Perry believes questioning the president’s legitimacy will move the campaign discussion away from some of his recent setbacks?

But on second thought, these questions very likely give the governor too much credit. Rick Perry is not exactly what one might call a “strategic thinker.” I suspect all of this should, in fact, be taken at face value — he had dinner with a nutty conspiracy theorist; they chatted about Trump’s silly ideas; Perry found the nonsense persuasive; and when asked about it, the governor said what he was thinking.

There’s no 11-dimensional chess here; Perry just isn’t terribly bright.

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
  • Hedda Peraz on October 24, 2011 8:09 AM:

    My governor does not need to be a "strategic thinker". He has people who do that for him.
    Just being gubernatorial is a full time occupation. (And that does NOT involve peanuts, nor swimming pools.)

  • c u n d gulag on October 24, 2011 8:12 AM:

    The guy has been President for almost 3 years.
    3 YEARS!!!

    What do you want Obama to do?

    "Yes, my father came to America and shacked up with some white chick, took her home to Africa where I was born and gave me the name Barack Hussein Obama, because he and the rest of the people in on this conspiracy knew that they had to cover their tracks for that mistake and make it seem like I was born in Hawaii because they knew there was no surer road to the Presidency than to have a mixed-race man born in Africa with the name Barack Hussein Obama run for the office even though he's got a fake birth certificate."

    Gov. Perry, just how f*cking stupid are you?
    NEVER MIND! You've already shown us that.

  • j on October 24, 2011 8:18 AM:

    Don't you know Trump is just loving his
    control of the limp GOP bunch, I wish someone would ask Trump to enlighten us with the information gained by his team of investigators that he sent to Hawaii
    to check out the birth certificate, he told us we would be amazed at the revelations they would give - where are they?

  • Danp on October 24, 2011 8:26 AM:

    Now that he has Orly Taitz' endorsement, he can work on getting Pamela Geller and Ann Coulter. Credibility ain't what it used to be.

  • pol on October 24, 2011 8:28 AM:

    There�s no 11-dimensional chess here; Perry just isn�t terribly bright.

    All he has to do is dangle a shiny object for this crowd.

  • jj on October 24, 2011 8:33 AM:

    And who would have thought that Marco Rubio was a Latino anchor baby!

  • FRP on October 24, 2011 8:39 AM:

    The substance of what passed between the estimable Perry and Trump can probably be conveniently summarized , Brylcreem , and milk duds .
    What sez America and the pride we take in her better than "How tasty a zest there is in good , old fashioned , grooming" .
    Thank you ...

  • Grumpy on October 24, 2011 8:50 AM:

    Not distractive enough to avoid discussing in an interview, apparently.

    As far as I can tell, Parade asked the question. So it wasn't Perry, as the NYTimes blog suggests, who "revived the issue" with his remarks.

  • martin on October 24, 2011 9:06 AM:

    Gotta agree with Grumpy. Why is a respected news leader like Parade (snark) reviving the issue other than to play Gotcha with a dimwitted politician? I'm horrified to say I'll give Perry the benefit of the doubt and speculate he was totally unprepared for the question and did what any politician would do, hedge instead of giving a straight answer. Any normal person would just have said, "That's a stupid question."

  • NickNayme on October 24, 2011 9:10 AM:

    I wonder what Perry wold have said had he been asked whether he believes Romney or Cain had been born in the U.S. I cannot imagine he has seen copies of their birth certificates.

  • joan on October 24, 2011 9:19 AM:

    Please read this Top Ten Signs They Wrote the GOP Platform

    October 23, 2011 By: Juanita Jean Category: Uncategorized

    Okay, so Rick Perry had dinner with Donald Trump. Never have two stupid men of such large egos ever been in one room together. We should have sent scientists.

    Not only did Rick come away from the meeting unsure that Barack Obama was born in the United States, but there is also the distinct possibility that these two men wrote the new 2012 GOP Platform.


    10. Official declaration that math is too hard.

    9. Extra marital affairs will now count as foreign affairs experience.

    8. �I�m rubber and you�re glue� will be an officially sanctioned answer at future Presidential debates.

    7. Change the Statue of Liberty to a big haired blonde gal.

    6. Guns, Guns, Guns

    5. New motto: It�s the hair, Stupid.

    4. Believes that America will save more if we just make shinier coins with Raquel Welch on them.

    3. Only people we personally approve get to vote.

    2. Instead of voting, the guy with the most skyscrapers wins.

    1. Favor constitutional amendment that Black and Mormon are like, you know, basically the same.

    Thanks to Kathleen and Stephen for the heads-up on

  • bigtuna on October 24, 2011 9:20 AM:

    "Perry just isnt terribly bright"

    Steve. Stop being cute.

    Perry is a f***ing dumb ass - is how that should read. We've been over this before. Perry is a handsome dumbshit aggie - who knew all they had to do was get through A&M with a 2.1 GPA, wear their Corp of Cadets uniforms, stomp around campus their senior year in johdpurs, riding boots, and spur holders, with their cute girlfriend, and if they are a yell leader, pretend they are squeezing their balls as the high point of a "yell". AFter that, success is assured because of that big ass aggie corp ring, etc. No intellect, no drive, no real thought. Just a dumb ass small town white trash cracker who can make it big on nothing more than looks, a twang, and connections.

    And, would someone please remind people - being governor of Texas is one of the weakest state executive jobs in the nation?

  • beejeez on October 24, 2011 9:21 AM:

    You guys almost make it sound like it would be a bad idea to elect a dim-witted Texas governor as president.

  • Ben on October 24, 2011 9:25 AM:

    Well, if dinner buys this guy's opinions, I do a killer grilled snapper. Come on over, Governor. I'll give you something to 'evaluate'.

  • chi res on October 24, 2011 9:45 AM:

    I'll give you something to 'evaluate'.

    Sounds kinda like Dan Savage's invitation to Cain:


  • g on October 24, 2011 10:05 AM:

    I have to wonder about the media's question. It sounds like because Perry met with Trump, the reporter who interviewed Perry inserted the birther topic. I don't like to sound Palinesque, but that's really the essence of "gotcha" journalism - bringing up an irrelevant scandal and trying to get a quote to breathe new life into it.

    The fact that Perry's stupid enough to give them soundbites is beside the point.

  • DRF on October 24, 2011 10:05 AM:

    The Republican debates showed pretty clearly that Perry isn't ready for prime time. However, I don't blame him on this. He obviously wasn't interested in addressing the birth certificate issue; he referred to it as a "distractive" issue. And, in truth, his answer to the questions about the validity of the long-form birth certificate are certainly fair--he has no idea about it (and clearly isn't interested). I give him a pass on this.

  • Grumpy on October 24, 2011 10:14 AM:

    martin: "Any normal person would just have said, 'That's a stupid question.'"

    Well, yeah. But that would've alienated his base. Perry may be stupid, but he's stupid like a fox.

  • Josef K on October 24, 2011 10:14 AM:

    In the interview, Mr. Perry was asked if Mr. Obama was born in the United States, and he replied, I have no reason to think otherwise. When pressed, he said, Well, I dont have a definitive answer.

    Does this clod have "a definitive answer" for anything?

    I'm seriously starting to wonder if the Texas electorate doesn't have a collective death-wish given they put this clod in the Big Seat. His predecessor, at least, was charming.

  • chi res on October 24, 2011 10:18 AM:

    I don't blame him on this.

    Because, obviously, it would have been far too difficult for him to show a little respect for the President of the United States of America and say something like, "Of course he was born in the U.S. What a ridiculous question."

    That's how far our political conversation has digressed: Benen commenters are now acting as apologists for Republican assholes.

  • bigtuna on October 24, 2011 10:33 AM:

    "The fact that Perry's stupid enough to give them soundbites is beside the point." ...

    ummm, no.

    Look. he is running for president of the US, for god's sake. As President, theere are daily opportunities to represent the US, intelligently, or not, and if this clown cannot even figure out how to answer a gotcha question from Parade, how the hell will he stand up to Putin? Nancy Pelosi ? We had 8 f***ing years of clownish stupid ass behavior that set our foriegn policy standing behidn for years; this dumbass should not be given 5 mins in Boy's Life [along with most of the rest of the so called candidates].

  • deanarms on October 24, 2011 10:38 AM:

    The headline at HuffPo (still up as I write this) is "Perry Raises Doubts About Obama Birth Certificate." It must have been drafted with a big eye towards their search engine mojo, because as I see it, Perry raised no doubts about nothing. His running off at the mouth about some idiotic position does not "raise doubts." If anything, it just confirms that he isn't terribly bright, Steve's charitable view of the moron running for president.

  • zeitgeist on October 24, 2011 10:49 AM:

    c'mon - it was not a "gotcha" question, or unfair in any way.

    1) Parade knew that Perry had dinner with Trump. It does not appear to be a common thing they do once a month as BFFs. It is a reasonable conclusion that the dinner was to "kiss the ring" in an effort to get Trump's endorsement.

    2) Trump's sole issue in his brief flirtation with higher ratin. . .er, a presidential candidacy was Birtherism.

    3) Ergo, Parade was well within reason and logic to ask whether the kissing of Trump's ring involved pandering to his Birtherism.

    Its a pretty simple equation: if you are going to pander for Trump's endorsement, you should be asked if you condone his Birtherism.

    Benen, and many of the commenters here, have asked repeatedly over the years if Republicans will be held accountable for the company they keep (Limbaugh, Bryan Fischer) the way Dems have to distance themselves from Michael Moore. Now when Parade (shaming the "serious media") actually does exactly that, we defend Perry?

    Did I wake up in bizarroland?

  • chi res on October 24, 2011 11:13 AM:

    His predecessor, at least, was charming.

    OMFG!!! Please tell me you did not just call GWB "charming"!!

    Bizarroland, indeed.

  • Phalamir on October 24, 2011 11:38 AM:

    11 dimensional chess? rick Perry couldn't win a game of 1 Dimensional Being Rick Perry

  • toowearyforoutrage on October 24, 2011 12:04 PM:

    Echoing Grumpy, this is pretty weak tea.

    There's no plus side to certainty in Obama's citizenship.

    "No reason to believe" is enough to make Birthers mad.
    He almost seems to want to change the subject twice. A polite way of saying it's a dumb question.

    I havent seen either birth certificate in person.
    Neither, to my knowledge has been carbon dated for authenticity (carbon dating doesn't have that level of accuracy, but still...).

    I have plenty of reasons to be annoyed with Perry and this just doesn't reach my threshold.

    It was a stupid question that Perry handled clumsily. That's about it. Given his debate performance, you expected articulation?

    Frankly, in a day and age of technology able to reproduce all kinds of "evidence", I cannot conclude that ANYONE is an American citizen. Obama has provided proof that is as satisfactory as we can hope for but it will never satisfy the truly deranged. I could not prove my own citizenship as persuasively as Obama has. Does that make ME suspect? I suppose.

    If we wanted to create them for posterity, what historical records could we produce that could be impossible to forge? I can't think of any. This is even worse. You're asking for such unimpeachable evidence retroactively. It may be useful for the sake of tamping public paranoia even if I can't bring myself to get worked up about it. The technical challenges should not be understated.

  • chi res on October 24, 2011 3:00 PM:

    ...but it will never satisfy the truly deranged.

    Um, yeah, that's kinda Benen's point.

    Reasonable people are satisfied with Obama's proof. Perry is apparently NOT satisfied enough to give "a definitive answer". Therefore, Perry is not a reasonable person and may, indeed, be "truly deranged".

  • exlibra on October 24, 2011 3:49 PM:

    As part of the interview, Perry said the president hadn’t seen his birth certificate. -- Steve Benen

    And I'd bet anything that what he *meant* to say was "I haven't seen his certificate", not "he hasn't seen my certificate". Because, why should Obama want to see anything of Perry's, including the certificate? But that's yon "clever" Perry -- you never know what convoluted garbage will come out of this mouth, unless he had memorized his talking points. Caught without the answers written on his palm, he flubs. Just like La Palin

  • WW on October 25, 2011 10:14 AM:

    Why don't you have the whole stupid quote in there???

    " Well, I dont have a definitive answer, because HE"S NEVER SEEN MY birth certificate "

  • Rarlfrele on October 26, 2011 1:40 AM:

    Visit our site and read more about
    [url=http://www.prawo-jazdy-warszawa.com.pl]prawo jazdy warszawa[/url]