The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Perry Campaign’s Amateur Hour

Posted on | December 31, 2011 | 47 Comments

The secret to an effective “oppo dump” is to leave no fingerprints. The campaign trying to push negative information about its rival into the media strives to obscure the origin of the attack.

If the Rick Perry campaign thinks that delivering its opposition research files to Erick Erickson is an effective messaging technique — well, good luck with that. And the fact that the “oppo dump” doesn’t indicate any wrongdoing by the targeted candidate? Hey, if desperation was a cologne fragrance, you’d reek of it.

The overpaid staffers who have run the Perry campaign into the ditch are already preparing their excuses for failure in Iowa:

[S]ome of his advisers have begun laying the groundwork to explain how the Texas governor bombed so dramatically in a race that he seemed to control for a brief period upon entering the race in August.
Their explanations for the nosedive come against the backdrop of a campaign riven by an intense, behind-the-scenes power struggle that took place largely between a group of the governor’s longtime advisers and a new cadre of consultants brought on this fall. In the end, the outsiders won out — and ever since have marginalized Perry’s longtime chief strategist while crafting a new strategy in which the Texan has portrayed himself as a political outsider and culture warrior. . . .
[S]ources close to the campaign depict a dysfunctional operation that might be beyond saving because of what they describe as the political equivalent of malpractice by the previous regime.
“There has never been a more ineptly orchestrated, just unbelievably subpar campaign for President of the United States than this one,” said a senior Perry adviser.

Even Perry supporter Dan Riehl is getting sick of this clumsy campaign. Yesterday, I was talking to people about how a candidate with such a great story to tell — Texas has the best economy in the United States — has done so poorly. People who had called Herman Cain’s campaign the worst-run presidential campaign of the year may owe Mark Block an apology.

Remember when I was the first reporter to raise the question of whether Perry’s back pain was a factor in his poor debate performance? They originally denied this, but two weeks ago, Perry admitted that had been a problem. Earlier this week, I talked to a well-informed conservative who claimed to know — from sources close to the Perry campaign — that the governor had been prescribed Oxycontin for pain, and was subsequently taken off that medication when it became apparent it was affecting him negatively.

If true, that would explain a lot about the candidate. Now the question is, “What’s wrong with his campaign staff?”

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey:

There’s an old saying that success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan. That’s not entirely true; when a big enterprise fails, it usually produces a thousand claims for paternity for someone else. . . .
In order for Perry to regain credibility as a contender, and especially as a Not-Romney who can take on Barack Obama, the collapse of his campaign in October has to be laid at the feet of someone other than Rick Perry.

Indeed: This finger-pointing festival may just be an effort at “strategic communications,” pre-emptive face-saving intended to assure campaign donors (and Perry supporters in South Carolina) that the likely caucus catastrophe on Tuesday isn’t the death knell on his campaign.

And no one now seems to remember who originally dubbed the Perry campaign in Iowa “The Phantom Menace.”

Speaking of being denied the credit I deserve, last night I gave Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard an earful for not mentioning me as an early prophet of the Santorum Surge in a widely-cited item he published this week.

Of course, I don’t blame Hayes personally for the fact that no one important reads a blogger who is Not Good Enough for BlogCon. “A Venn Diagram Might Be Helpful.”

Meanwhile, Dan Riehl has a startling confession: “I guess I’m getting soft in my old age.” Say it ain’t so!


47 Responses to “Perry Campaign’s Amateur Hour”

  1. Pathfinder's wife
    December 31st, 2011 @ 11:23 am

    That campaign is sunk and should just dial it back on the negative ads, see what happens in the first set of primaries.  If he doesn’t do well (which it doesn’t look like he will) then graciously bow out and go home.   That may be a bitter pill for Perry supporters to swallow, but as the song says: you need to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away.

  2. Dianna Deeley
    December 31st, 2011 @ 11:43 am

    If the campaign is this badly managed, why would we have confidence in a Perry administration? If his health was this uncertain, why did he get in?

    This has been a very frustrating pre-campaign. Let’s hope the campaign itself is better.

  3. Dcmick
    December 31st, 2011 @ 12:02 pm


    What staff, even were it made of the Archangel choir, could possibly rectify the self-inflected wounds of Rick Perry?

    HE blew his own candidacy sky high, not his staff, not the media, not opposition skullduggery.

    There was NOTHING his staff could do to prevent what was inexorable, that is, that his own lack of preparation was going to doom him. 

  4. Dcmick
    December 31st, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

    The general is going to be worse……………

  5. Edward
    December 31st, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

    I feel for anyone with serious back pain.  But if you’re not 100% healthy then you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re up to being President.

    And ….

    After that insane response from Perry over amnesty you have got to be kidding me.  Idiotic campaign staff or not it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that calling your potential supporters a bunch of bigots is not an effective campaign strategy.

  6. Benjamin Koenig
    December 31st, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

    You’re a good man Stacey McCain.  When you are in for a candidate you’re all in.  But this guy, he’s a company man.

  7. The Rick Perry campaign « THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL.
    December 31st, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

    […] Then there was the second article, from Robert Stacy McCain; it was not so uplifting: Perry Campaign’s Amateur Hour […]

  8. richard mcenroe
    December 31st, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

    New Rick Perry Billboard Debuts in Austin… 

  9. richard mcenroe
    December 31st, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    It works for John McCain…

  10. richard mcenroe
    December 31st, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    On the upside, the sheer incompetence of this campaign op pretty much exonerates them from the Herman Cain leak.  Unless they’re getting desperate AND stupid.

  11. WOB
    December 31st, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

    Being a life long Republican and Texan, I have always admired Rick Perry and what he has done as Gov.  However, there is NO WAY this man should be President.  He doesn’t have the intellect, international knowledge/experience, or stature to be respected worldwide.  We have seen what happens when we select someone who is less than qualified … in fact, we’ve seen it several times in our history.   Let’s stop making the same mistake … and choose someone who can get the job done.  Rick Perry “ain’t” it.

  12. Anonymous
    December 31st, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    “The secret to an effective ‘oppo dump’ is to leave no fingerprints.”

    That’s not necessarily true. Sometimes making sure the fingerprints are very visible is itself a strategic move.

    For example, if your candidate or campaign has an image problem in terms of “wimpy” or “can’t seem to lay a glove on [opponent],” you might want to move that image toward “hardball son of a bitch.”

    It can also have a positive effect not necessarily on the instant campaign but on subsequent ones. If Lee Atwater had lived for another campaign after getting Bush the Elder elected in 1988, nobody would have been in a hurry to get in a mud fight with any candidate he worked for  later.

  13. dad29
    December 31st, 2011 @ 2:44 pm


    I could grant Perry a flub like the “3 Departments” one; stuff happens.  I  could, less willingly, grant him the immigration flub, even though it was offensive.

    But when he can’t name the TEXAS-originated revolutionary homosex-rights case……..and proposes a Constitutional Amendment every day…….

    Well, par’dner, it’s time to say buh-bye.

  14. Another year shot to hell! Ending 2011 with thanks-a-lot-links « The Daley Gator
    December 31st, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

    […] Stacy McCain is trying to get me down […]

  15. Adjoran
    December 31st, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

    The charge is ridiculous on its face, as a couple of the first comments demonstrate – Directors have no idea what it happening with front-line managers at the retail locations, that isn’t their job and it is patently unfair to suggest otherwise, just as it is ridiculous to blame Directors for a motion to dismiss a lawsuit:  that is a decision made by attorneys in most companies, isn’t it?

    So it’s a smear by Erickson without doubt, is there a connection to Perry besides the fact Erickson looks at him with goo-goo eyes, or is that a pure guess?  Because guesses aren’t “fingerprints” on CSI, Sherlock.

    Dirty little secret:  check close enough on ANY Medicaid/Medicare provider and you will find, if not outright fraud, pushing the line, ordering tests and procedures which may not be necessary to pump the reimbursement.  Why?  Not just greed, but survival.  The reimbursements on Medicaid have already fallen below provider costs in many states, so they put on a few extra tests, etc., to make it somewhat worthwhile.  Eventually all will follow those scrupulously honest providers who refuse to see Medicaid patients and accept no new Medicare patients.

  16. Adjoran
    December 31st, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

    Stacy still blames Hagar for Cain’s crash and burn campaign, on the theory they sold him pants with defective zippers which kept flying open.

  17. EBL
    December 31st, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

    I do not even think about Perry as a contender.  I probably think more about who Herman Cain will endorse than how Rick Perry is doing (and I am not thinking about the former much).  That is how sad things are for Perry. 

  18. EBL
    December 31st, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

    I still think Cain was not what they made him out to be.  The stories are weak and seem to be BS.  What Herman Cain was is stupid for thinking two employment harassment settlements would not become news stories.  A competent campaign would have had this dealth with months before it blew up.  Herman Cain was not that serious about running a competent campaign and that is why he is out now.   

  19. Adjoran
    December 31st, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

    Cain advised his Senate campaign inner circle about the settlements, and perhaps other charges.  That he didn’t do so when “running for President” underlines your point:  he was never serious about being a contender.

  20. Anonymous
    December 31st, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

    Agree that Perry is toast.  Easily the greatest disappointment / underperformance of all the candidates.  Just never seemed to be ready for prime time.  A shame given the factors favoring the GOP in the Fall, not least of which are the new Electoral College numbers – thanks in no small part to population gains in Texas … 

  21. Pathfinder's wife
    December 31st, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

    But Perry was not the canidate who needed to improve his “hardball SOB” credentials; in fact he was the canidate who most needed to tone the pugilistic image down a notch (he had already been hyped as that very thing).

    Anymore tough guy stuff starts to make him look like an bullying  jack***.  Perhaps this is more the fault of elements within his campaign than the man himself, but the bottom line is that it’s not helping at all.

  22. Pathfinder's wife
    December 31st, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

    Since there seems to be a strong connection between Perry and Erickson, was it too much to ask that someone on Perry’s campaign staff took some time to tell Erickson to ixnay ontay hardballitsnay?

    It’s hardly a new development, and by now it should be obvious that it is backfiring to a certain degree.

  23. Dai Alanye
    December 31st, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

    Running for Pres with a bad back, huh? Who does Perry think he is, John Kennedy?

    But to explain his inept performance he’d have to be swallowing oxycontin by the handful. He’s been that bad.

  24. Anonymous
    December 31st, 2011 @ 5:04 pm


    You may be right. To be honest, I stopped paying attention to Perry early on.

    I admired his “hey, maybe if we Republicans stopped being such fucking anti-American morons on immigration” play, but when it became clear that rather than buoying him to the top of the field, it would simply harden the GOP base’s “no, really, we should be as fucking anti-American and moronic as we can figure out how to be on immigration” attitude, it was also clear he was probably finished.

  25. Dcmick
    December 31st, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

    A good question that will need to be addressed is what the hell is going on down there in Texas!

    Kay Bailey HutchinsoN!



    They can’t do better than that, in a conservative state like Texas?

    It’s almost as bad as South Carolina……. What’s up with them?

  26. richard mcenroe
    December 31st, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

    This is how government medicine works.  They make it impossible to provide service on their terms and then use your failure to provide services to stop offering them altogether.

  27. richard mcenroe
    December 31st, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

    One of Dan Riehl’s commenters, Gary4205, makes the good point that Perry’s success in Texas came largely from getting out of Texans’ way and letting them get busy.  Sadly, Washington needs more than that kind of hands-off leadership to fix what’s busted inside the Beltway.

  28. Dcmick
    December 31st, 2011 @ 6:58 pm


    Perry would be a disaster, because we need a guy to uproot decades worth of regulations, we need a guy to overhaul EPA in a major way, we need money returned to states, we need baseline budgeting tossed in the trash can.

    So much needs to be done, and so much needs EXPLAINING why it must be done.

    Perry is the last guy we need right now.

    He’d be as bad as Romney, and that’s saying something.

  29. Dcmick
    December 31st, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

    The people who feel they need oxycontin are those of us in the rank and file who have been watching this prolonged train wreck.

  30. ‘Occupy’ Protesters at Bachmann HQ: Proof That Gardasil Causes Retardation? : The Other McCain
    December 31st, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

    […] 31: Michele Bachmann Flyer Omits Comparison to Records of Santorum, PaulDec. 31: Perry Campaign’s Amateur HourDec. 30: ‘Quite a Difference!’Dec. 30: Guess Who’s Gonna Be Watching Hawkeye Football Tonight […]

  31. Gillian
    December 31st, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

    I think Perry’s supporters turned me off even more than the candidate himself.  Erickson and RedState make me disgusted to be on the same side of the political spectrum.  I’ve never seen such bullying douches as I have at RedState, they should think about having bodyguards when they go out in public.

    Perry was handed this nomination wrapped in a bow, but he blew it at every single opportunity.  All he had to do was show up at the debates and say “Obama Sucks” and he would have easily won the nomination, but he couldn’t even handle that.

     I started out as a fan of Perry, and loved the idea of a balls to the wall conservative entering, but when you nominate a President, you really have to vet the individual, it’s not just an ideological check list.  The average American would see this was a guy in WAY over his head.

  32. ThePaganTemple
    December 31st, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

    Somebody needs to remind Perry that we are a constitutional republic with separation of powers, and that he as chief executive would not get to decide to put the Congress on part time and cut their pay. They actually seem to get a vote on such matters, come to find out.

  33. ThePaganTemple
    December 31st, 2011 @ 10:17 pm

    Well as far as I know Perry hasn’t screwed idiot starlets, mobster goomahs, or any other seldom vacant vagina that crosses his path. Nor has he tried to ingratiate himself with the Irish mob by going after the Italian and Sicilian mob. Nor has he almost single-handedly brought us to the brink of WW III through sheer incompetence. So no, he’s not like Kennedy.

  34. Adjoran
    January 1st, 2012 @ 1:24 am

    So, what?  Were you a David Beasley fan or something?  You preferred the Andre Bauer crowd have the keys to the safe in Columbia?

  35. Adjoran
    January 1st, 2012 @ 1:35 am

    The reason I think Romney can be made to work out is these policies need to be driven by the Congress.  Executive Orders and regulations are only authorized to administer the law.  Romney would ideally be the Chief of Staff under a reformer conservative President, but we don’t have one.

    Romney knows about cutting expenses and laying off unneeded employees, and that’s a key qualification for what must be done.  There will be pain.

    And if we can’t take the Senate by enough, and with conservatives in Congress who are willing to bite the bullet and lead the restructuring, it really won’t matter who the President is – as long as he is a Republican for the purposes of judges, regulations, and EOs.

  36. Adjoran
    January 1st, 2012 @ 1:38 am

    I agree that Red State has grown into something different than it was.  It’s a private site and the owners’ privilege, but it’s startling to see some of their moderators employing ban hammers with all the subtlety of the Democratic Underground.

    I often dissent there, though, and have yet to be even warned.  Probably that’s due to my crystal clear logic and sublime prose.

  37. Adjoran
    January 1st, 2012 @ 1:41 am

    He stole the idea from Lamar Alexander, whose first slogan in his own Presidential try – I think it was 1996, he wore red plaid flannel everywhere, it was pretty odd in July – “Cut Their Pay and Send Them Home” was the theme. 

    When reminded Congress set their own pay and sessions, Lamar just winked.

  38. Dave
    January 1st, 2012 @ 3:38 am

    You’re lying again Napp. I don’t know a single Republican or conservative who is against immigration. Not one. What we are against is illegal immigration. Imagine that, people who think that the rule of law should be the guiding principle of the Republic. Crazy.

  39. Happy 310 days to go! « Don Surber
    January 1st, 2012 @ 7:01 am

    […] From Iowa, Robert Stacy McCain: “Perry Campaign’s Amateur Hour.” […]

  40. ombdz
    January 1st, 2012 @ 8:34 am

    Actually, I think they all served Texas pretty well.  Obviously, some translated better nationally than others …

  41. Anonymous
    January 1st, 2012 @ 10:00 am


    I didn’t say Republicans are anti-immigration.

    I said they’re anti-American morons on immigration.

    I’ve never heard a Republican come out in favor of the rule of law on immigration (the Supreme Law of the Land says that the federal government can’t regulate it).

  42. ThePaganTemple
    January 1st, 2012 @ 11:20 am

    Perry has actually gone up in the polls, according to most of them his support is about twice what it was a month ago. I don’t go for a lot of cheer leading. Just stick to the facts and you might not be happy, but you’ll never be disappointed either. Here are the facts-

    1.There is currently an on-going meme to the effect that there is “no such thing” as a Republican establishment. Of course, this is bullshit.

    2. That same allegedly non-existent Republican establishment is going to do whatever they can to insure that Romney gets the nomination.

    3. If Romney wins, he might be a good President in a lot of ways, certainly orders of magnitude better than Obama, but if you turned the amount of government and spending reductions and other reforms enacted by a Romney Administration into an angel, it could dance on the head of a pin.

    4. Big government is here to stay, at least for an appreciable length of time yet. Maybe forever.

  43. ThePaganTemple
    January 1st, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

    I’m against immigration, but its not anti-immigration sentiment as much as its anti-leftist sentiment. Ship all fucking leftists overseas, or even better, under the sea, and you’re welcome to bring an equal number of immigrants over in their place, provided they’re not leftists or jihadists.

  44. ThePaganTemple
    January 1st, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

    The problem is, Perry doesn’t seem to be winking. I think he actually believes he can do that through some kind of executive order or something. It would take a constitutional amendment to make a change that drastic, and on top of that, I don’t think it would be a good idea anyway.

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