Why you should care
Because smart glasses and good hair don’t make you Ronald Reagan.
Remember how The Hunger Games would honor its fallen tributes? In this occasional series, OZY predicts which presidential candidates will be the next to fall — whether they know it or not.
It should be such a good time to be you, Rick Perry. You recently wrapped up a stint as the longest-serving governor in Texas history — 14 years guiding the second-largest state in the Union, with an enviable record for job creation and economic growth. You’d learned your lessons from your last, less-than-stellar run for the top job. You had smart new glasses. You were tanned, rested and ready. It should have been your year.
Good hair or not, there will be no disguising a corpse.
But then you missed the cutoff for the “big kids” debate and were outshone at the earlier match by the fired CEO of Hewlett-Packard. You’ve gamely insisted that reports of your demise have been greatly exaggerated, but things look bleaker than a thunderstorm over a Texas prairie. Your campaign coffers have dried up, your poll numbers are flatlining, and one of your Iowa co-chairs just lit out for the greener pastures, if you can believe it, of the Trump campaign. A few days later, you lost the other Iowa co-chair to the other Rick (Santorum) and your New Hampshire poiltical director to John Kasich.
The unfortunate truth is that your campaign has been on death row for quite some time — years, in fact — and what we’re witnessing now is the last-minute flurry of appeals before the final injection. And just as with the record number of inmate executions you presided over in Texas, there will be no reprieve. (Just as your campaign had no comment for us on its last-ditch clemency appeal.)
Was it only four years ago that you sat atop the polls, a feared candidate and a serious contender for the GOP nomination? True, you’d been a C student and an Aggie cheerleader — excuse me, yell leader — in college, and even began your political career as a Democrat. But “I came to my senses,” you claimed (about being a Democrat, that is), and eventually followed another Texas governor with big dreams, George W. Bush, into the Statehouse. So it was only natural you’d start envisioning yourself in the Oval Office.
In photos, you and your unflappable hair drew the inevitable Reagan comparisons; on paper, your campaign was a conservative’s fantasy. But like an American auto-manufacturing job, things went south pretty quickly after that. Looking the part was never enough, and a series of disastrous debate performances culminated with a single lethal — and self-inflicted — blow when you simply blanked on a third Cabinet department you wanted to eliminate. A former Bush aide called it “the human equivalent of the shuttle Challenger.” “Oops” indeed.
In the years since, you’ve studied up on your three-part answers, and now you’re back in 2015: bespectacled, bootless and under indictment (we’ll let that last one slide; you have enough to worry about). But good hair or not, there will be no disguising a corpse. Heck, you’re continuing to labor in Chris Christie’s shadow, and it looks like you probably won’t qualify (again) for the next prime-time debate. As Weekend at Bernie’s II already proved, there’s only so long you can dress up a dead man before the American public revolts at the cornball stench of it all.
But cheer up, Governor. There are only three inevitable things in this life. The weather. Taxes. And … what’s the third one?
Make room, Iowans, there’s a dead man walking. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. May the odds … well, the odds figured this one out a while back.