Posted on | January 19, 2012 | 25 Comments
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.
Several years ago I picked up a book called The Black Box: All-New Cockpit Voice Recorder Accounts Of In-flight Accidents, which is a major reason why, whenever I travel by air, I always pray before takeoff.
Because what you will learn from studying air disasters is that takeoff is the most dangerous part of any flight and, in many cases, the people who died were doomed from the time they boarded the plane. An undetected mechanical malfunction or a bungle by the maintenance crew and, from the time that jet rolls away from the gate, there is no hope for anyone aboard that doomed plane. They bought their ticket, and they are going to die.
Which brings us to Rick Perry’s presidential campaign. First the headlines:
Perry quits race, backs Gingrich
— The State (Columbia, S.C.)
Perry’s Speech, Dropping Out, Endorsing Newt
— Ace of Spades
Perry’s Voters May Not Flock to Gingrich
— New York Times
I was there at the Hyatt Park for today’s press conference, along with Dave Weigel of Slate, Byron York of the Washington Examiner, Dan Balz of the Washington Post, Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times, Willie Geist of MSNBC and dozens of other reporters. When Perry said, “I’ve always believed the mission is more important than the man,” I remembered that Perry was an Air Force pilot, and thought about The Black Box, because Perry’s campaign was doomed from the moment it began.
Rick Perry is a good man, and he deserved a better campaign than he got, but his political advisers — Dave Carney and those other guys — had all the wrong ideas, and thus Perry’s “mission” was destined to failure from the outset. Exactly how these men, so widely hailed as shrewd strategists, got so many things so badly wrong is a story that I’m sure will be the subject of many campaign post mortems, like Jennifer Jacobs’s excellent examination of what went wrong with Michele Bachmann’s campaign. But I have neither time nor inclination to offer a full analysis today.
What is important today is to realize that there was never really any hope that Rick Perry could win the presidency. All the hype generated about Perry’s candidacy last summer was mistaken, based on a flawed assumptions about the candidate, about his campaign staff, about the entire strategic conception of the Perry campaign.
It was all wrong, wrong, wrong, from the very beginning, an utter waste of time, money and effort, and everyone involved would have been better off if Perry had never run at all. Instead of asking, “What went wrong?” we should be asking simply, “Why?”
But that question is one that Perry’s most vocal supporters — who loudly and repeatedly proclaimed their candidate the only viable alternative to Mitt Romney — do not wish to0 contemplate. And so I will simply link my American Spectator report on the Perry press conference, which ought to be the final word on this tragic folly.
It won’t, of course, because the campaign will continue, until it is at least recognized that Perry’s endorsement of Newt “Share Me” Gingrich, like everything else about the Perry campaign, has proved to be a mistake.
And then no one will give me credit for that prediction, either.