Yesterday Texas Governor Rick Perry ended his race for the Republican nomination for President. His brief campaign started with a bang and ended with a whimper — his departure wasn’t even the top news story on a day that featured stories about open marriages and another debate — but it’s worth some reflection.
When Perry came into the race a few months ago he was viewed as a formidable contender. Why not? He is the popular, long-standing governor of one of our largest states. Moreover, Texas’ economic and job-creation performance has been a bright spot during the recent economic doldrums. Perry seemed like a candidate who could present a sharp contrast with President Obama on the job and economic issues that are the primary concerns of most Americans.
Alas for Governor Perry, he just wasn’t ready for a presidential campaign. His stumbling performances in debates caused his poll numbers to shrivel to insignificance and led his potential supporters to look elsewhere. He seemed unsteady, and never could gain traction. The spotlight quickly moved on to others, and by the end of his campaign, Perry had become almost an irrelevant figure.
Perry’s rise and fall shows that running for President is different in kind, and not just in degree, from other political races. The intensity of media scrutiny and criticism, the crucial role of capable staffing and planning, the paramount need to respond quickly and forcefully to missteps or changed circumstances — all of these distinguish a presidential campaign from, say, a governor’s race in your home state.
The story of Rick Perry is one that every potential candidate for President should consider before they make the decision to run. Seeking the presidency is brutal. Are they truly ready, where he wasn’t?
Kish brought this story to my attention. It’s another example of why running for President in America would suck.
Mitt Romney is flying coach class to Boston and is seated next to Carolyn McClanahan of Jacksonville, Florida. He poses for a photo, then puts on headphones, reads a newspaper, and works on his iPad. But Ms. McClanahan has other ideas. She’s a doctor who “heads a financial planning company” and boasts of having read every page of the “health care reform” bill. She decides to tell Romney of her idea for improving health care by “switching to an electronic billing system.” Romney says “I understand” and goes back to his reading.
What is the lesson from this episode? Why, according to Ms. McClanahan, it is that Romney is “out of touch” and “wooden” — all because he didn’t listen appreciatively to her views. Indeed, the New York Times blogger who reports the incident says it offers “a glimpse of a widening gulf between Americans and politicians.”
Huh? I get just the opposite message. I applaud Romney for ignoring some droning busybody who wanted to lecture him about her health care ideas. If Romney were wooden and programmed, he would have let Ms. McClanahan monopolize his time. The fact that he ignored her bad manners shows he isn’t a robot.
Any criticism should be directed at Ms. McClanahan, for pestering a fellow passenger who just wants some down time. Any business traveler knows how frustrating it can be when the total stranger in the next seat over is dead set on boring you with their views, despite every non-verbal signal you are sending. Perhaps Ms. McClanahan has never had that experience. I hope that the next time she flies she is seated next to a hypochondriac who learns that she is a doctor and spends the entire flight talking about his bowel problems. Maybe then Ms. McClanahan will learn some manners.