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January 18, 2012 9:50 AM Perry’s weak defense over Turkey

By Steve Benen

During Monday night’s debate in South Carolina, Rick Perry argued that Turkey “is being ruled by, what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists.” The argument is ridiculous — Turkey is a key democratic U.S. ally and a member of NATO — and led some Turkish journalists to describe the right-wing Texas governor as an “idiot.”

Perry talked to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer yesterday about his comments, and when asked if he misspoke, the governor replied, “Not at all.” To bolster his allegations, Perry argued that Turkey “allowed 140 to 160 honor killings in 2011.”

The CNN host pressed further, asking, “Are you really saying that” Turkish leaders are Islamic terrorists? The governor tried to turn the question around.

PERRY: Wolf, let me ask you, are you sitting here and defending the act of honor killing?

BLITZER: No, of course I’m not. That’s horrible and disgusting, and people who do that should be punished.

PERRY: Absolutely. And that’s the point.

BLITZER: But I believe the Turkish government isn’t defending it, either. It happens in Turkey, it happens in Egypt, it happens in a lot of Islamic countries, but they’re not supporting that. No one defends that except for Islamic extremists.

PERRY: And that is the reason — that is the reason that I’ve called for going to zero on this foreign aid to these countries that — you know, the idea that we’ve got U.S. dollars going into countries that allow these types of atrocities to occur — and it’s my understanding as well that women who go to the state for protection are not getting those protections.

Rick Perry really has become a caricature of himself. Consider the train of thought here: Turkish officials are terrorists … because some Turks engage in “honor killings” … which is why we should cut off U.S. aid … and if you question any of this, you should be asked whether you support murder.

It’s almost as if the far-right Republican is doing an imitation of Stephen Colbert’s imitation of far-right Republicans. I kept expecting Perry to say he knows Turkish leaders are terrorists because his “gut” told him it’s true.

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.

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  • DRF on January 18, 2012 9:55 AM:

    Of course, Perry's "defense" is as ridiculous as his original comment was ignorant. This is simply a not too sharp guy trying to wriggle out of his prior statement, when the simplest and smartest course for him would be to acknowledge his mistake, apologize and move on. Perry and his advisors don't realize that he's just making himself look worse.

  • c u n d gulag on January 18, 2012 9:55 AM:

    Well, lest Turkey or any other country thought otherwise, now they know that the Governor of Texas is a real turkey!

    Oh, and you've got to love the same "logic" Rick used.

    It worked great for Bush when it came to Saddam Hussein.

    And we still hear that argument: "Are you saying to supported that mass-murdering Dictator?"

    They really don't have anything new at all, do they?
    Anywhere?

    Even the framing's getting old.

  • Josef K on January 18, 2012 9:59 AM:

    Rick Perry really has become a caricature of himself.

    Whaddya mean "has become"? He was always a cartoon cut-out clown.

    God help us.

  • NickNayme on January 18, 2012 10:03 AM:

    Wolf's questioning might have been more effective if he had thought to ask how much U.S. aid Perry thinks goes to Turkey, which has one of the world's fasted growing economies under its business-friendly "terrorist" government. As it happens the amount of aid is none [www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/politics/us-foreign-aid.htm].

  • Danp on January 18, 2012 10:04 AM:

    No one defends that except for Islamic extremists. - Wolf Blitzer

    Only Wolf could out-stupid Perry.

  • CorporateMediaPointOfView on January 18, 2012 10:06 AM:

    It is important to understand that some people say that Turkey is ruled by Islamic extremists. President Obama and democrats say that it is not.

    Governor Perry stated that Turkey is ruled by Islamic extremists. President Obama has stated that there are countries ruled by Islamic extremists.

  • Severian on January 18, 2012 10:10 AM:

    To me, the oddest part was that Perry said the Turkish government "allowed" 140 honor killings to take place. Does he imagine Turkish judges sitting around, saying "Weeeeeell...we know they're illegal and all, but whaddaya say we 'allow,' oh, I don't know, 140 this year? Heck, we ARE terrorists, after all!" Unbelievable.

  • Bo on January 18, 2012 10:11 AM:

    Hmmm. Let's see now.
    Texas murder rate in 2007 = 4.9 per 100,000
    Turkey murder rate in 2008 = 2.9 per 100,000
    Methinks that Governor Good-hair is swallowing the camel and straining out the gnats. No surprise there.
    However, I would take his threat to reduce aid to Turkey one step further and say that the U.S. should not be supporting the "terrorist state of Texas", either. It's time to cut off all federal aid to Texas.

  • Grumpy on January 18, 2012 10:12 AM:

    Turkey may allow honor killings, but you know what they don't allow? The death penalty. Unlike Rick Perry's Texas.

  • chi res on January 18, 2012 10:15 AM:

    Perry is governor of a state that committed 311 state-sanctioned murders in 2011 based on fundamental religious beliefs.

    Does this make him a christian terrorist?

  • Hedda Peraz on January 18, 2012 10:16 AM:

    Our governor was misunderstood; he was talking about "foreign AIDS". The good, old American version is plenty good enough for them furrin preverts.

  • MisogynistOldVet on January 18, 2012 10:28 AM:

    I think I am falling love with Hedda because of her great humor.

    How about it Hedda? I am available and looking for a younger woman. Of course, at my age a younger woman is in the age range of 59-62.

  • Kathryn on January 18, 2012 10:36 AM:

    The Republican rule of never admitting error is wearing very thin. It would be refreshing if our media professionals could craft more effective questioning techniques. The facts are available to them. Turkey does not receive foreign aid Mr.Perry, honor killings are not supported by the Turkish government or Turkish courts, where did Perry get his numbers from, can they be substantiated? On the last point I don't know, does Perry?

    Juan Williams also had known facts at his disposal when he attempted to question Newt Gingrich in hostile South Carolina. Instead of pointing out those facts, more white Americans needing food stamps, military members needing food stamps, the large percentage of children and elderly on food stamps, the substantial percentage of working poor who need food stamps, he plunged right In focusing only on African-Americans. The resulting jeering crowd was predictable. Also, would someone please check on Gingrich claim of daughter working in church at 13 doing custodial work, mighty convenient if you ask me.

  • FlipYrWhig on January 18, 2012 10:47 AM:

    if you question any of this, you should be asked whether you support murder.

    Hey, Rick Perry and Glenn Greenwald share at least one rhetorical strategy!

  • OzarkHillbilly on January 18, 2012 11:02 AM:

    Not to pick at nits....

    but if one googles "Honor Killings in US" you get 1,370,000 hits... Some of them in Texas, Gov Goodhair.

  • Foochy on January 18, 2012 11:56 AM:

    Ugh, I am really tired of the inaccurate connection between Islam and honor killings. Honor killing is a practice that pre-dates Islam, and is practiced by several ethnicities and sects (INCLUDING CHRISTIANS) in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The same goes for female genital mutilation -- it's like saying Christianity condones/condoned lynching and mob violence because Jesus was crucified in such a fashion.

    More importantly, our policy in Iraq under the Bush Administration nearly collapsed due to Kurd separatists launching attacks across the Turkish boarder -- the State Department was at all ends to keep the collation together, since Turkey was the only Islam-majority state willing to support us in our misguided endeavor in Iraq, and were going to demand US troop removal from Turkish territory.

    It's little factoids like that which craven polls like Perry refuse to acknowledge when they pander to the holy roller crew who can't even be bothered to actually look at the CIA World Fact Book webpages, let alone a credible news source...

  • cmdicely on January 18, 2012 12:30 PM:

    Ugh, I am really tired of the inaccurate connection between Islam and honor killings. Honor killing is a practice that pre-dates Islam, and is practiced by several ethnicities and sects (INCLUDING CHRISTIANS) in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

    And also Europe and North and South America, including the United States.

  • chi res on January 18, 2012 12:30 PM:

    How about it Hedda? I am available

    Hedda Peraz and MisogynistOldVet... Sounds like a match made in republican heaven.

  • Redshift on January 18, 2012 2:21 PM:

    By Perry's "logic," since there have been assassinations of abortion providers in the US, the United States has a Christian terrorist government.

  • DAY on January 18, 2012 2:47 PM:

    In some primitive societies it is the custom to cut off the end of an infant's penis. . .

  • Tom Dibble on January 18, 2012 3:49 PM:


    In Texas in 2012, there were 168 officially-categorized hate crimes (per http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/crimereports/10/citCh6.pdf). Over 65% of those were motivated by race or ethnicity, and about a quarter by sexual orientation.

    This with a total population almost exactly a third that of Turkey!

    Since they happened, the governor of the state obviously allowed them to happen.

    Texas is run by hate-crime-loving extremists!

  • Tom Dibble on January 18, 2012 3:50 PM:

    (Change "in 2012" to "in 2010" ... not sure how I made that typo ...)

  • thebewilderness on January 18, 2012 4:59 PM:

    That is pretty rich coming from the governor of a state where gay panic defense is commonly used in cases of "honor" killings, and it is perfectly legal to murder a cheating spouse because they impugned your "honor".

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