The Other McCain

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

Ain’t I Done Told Ya So?

Posted on | April 2, 2012 | 9 Comments

Perhaps you remember this Sept. 23 headline:

Does Pain Explain Perry’s
Poor Debate Performances?

Once more, I give credit to Brian Ledbetter of Snapped Shots for the e-mail tip alerting me that Rick Perry had undergone back surgery in July, thus permitting me to become the first national journalist to suggest that there might be a connection between the Texas governor’s back pain and his problems in the TV debates.

The day after I posted that at The American Spectator, Perry’s campaign denied (to Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post) that the governor’s back pain was a problem. It was nearly three months later — in an interview with the Des Moines Register published Dec. 11 — that Perry admitted he was “pretty fatigued” because of his back problems.

Ah, but it was worse than mere “fatigue,” as I was told during my trip to Iowa and reported on Dec. 31:

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.

The Iowa source who told me that was speaking off-the-record in such a way that, when he described (but would not name) his source, I suspected I knew the quite famous political operative. However, I don’t burn my sources, especially not in such a way that it would burn my source’s sources, so therefore:

  1. I only mentioned it once, burying it in a blog post on New Year’s Eve; and
  2. I made sure the sourcing was vague.

Also, given that this was a second-hand sort of item, I didn’t want to seem to be spreading malicious gossip without substantiation. However, in my defense — another fact that was necessarily omitted from that Dec. 31 item — I knew it wasn’t malicious because the Iowa source actually had a favorable disposition toward Perry, despite being disappointed by the mismanagement of Perry’s campaign in the Hawkeye State. (Note to self: Call source and see if we’ve reached “now it can be told” status.)

OK, so that’s what happened from September through December, from my first speculation until the subsequent confirmation that back pain was a major factor in Rick Perry’s undoing. Now, via Alex Pappas at The Daily Caller, the denouement:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was under the influence of painkillers during televised presidential debates over the last year to help relieve severe back pain, according to a soon-to-be released eBook on the 2012 Republican race for president obtained by The Daily Caller.
It became an open secret that he was using painkillers in sufficient dosages to keep him standing through the two-hour debates,” write the authors of “Inside the Circus.”
A source provided TheDC with an advance copy of the eBook, authored by Mike Allen and Evan Thomas. The book comes out Tuesday.

Read the whole thing. And keep this little episode in mind next time I tell you something that seems too strange to be true.

UPDATE: My smartass friend Doug Winship — one of the world’s greatest bartenders — knows just how to stick the knife in:

Too bad you quit blogging. You could brag about this….

Yeah, thanks, smartass. I would have actually quit, too, if tip-jar hitters hadn’t talked me out of it. So hit the freaking tip jar.


9 Responses to “Ain’t I Done Told Ya So?”

  1. Shelleys Playtime
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    I did not see your post about this but I have a friend who is an avid supporter of Perry who told me about this awhile ago. She is hoping he plays a role in a brokered convention.

  2. Lisa Graas
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

    Wow. Well, I feel bad for him, but perhaps he should have stayed out of it. 

  3. Adjoran
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

    Just because the information from anonymous sources  without on the record confirmation may sometimes turn out to be true does not make it ethical to report it based on the single anonymous source.  Not that there has been much concern about ethics in journalism for some time now.

    Just within the past week, we had the DC and others picking up the Logan Smith BS anonymous source report claiming SC Governor Nikki Haley was about to be indicted for tax fraud.  Oops.  IRS says that investigation (of her parents’ Sikh temple finances) has long been closed.

    How many times have you seen George Zimmerman’s weight referred to as “220” or “240” in the last week or two?  Including by some on this site?  Try 170.  And Martin as “120” or “140” also?  Well, the police report has him as weighing 160. 

    The point is reputations are besmirched and you can never un-ring the bell.  A good and ethical reporter either finds a way to confirm the anonymous source on the record, or doesn’t use the information.  But where do you go to find one these days?

    And people wonder why the news biz is among the least trusted professions!

  4. robertstacymccain
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

    He wasn’t going to run, but certain people — including some of Newt’s staffers at the time — talked him into it. The complete backstory of this whole thing is beyond anyone’s imagination, and will perhaps never be known entirely.

  5. richard mcenroe
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

    Who the hell does oxy NOT affect negatively?

    Did no one in the Governor’s operation — or his household — notice that not only could he not stand up and fight, he could barely stand up?  Who the hell let him keep stumbling out there like that?

    Remember what I said about the quality of political consultants that are still available in an election year….

  6. JC C
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

    This does piss me off.  It seems a uniquely American thing to attribute to ANY drug use a moral overtone.
    Now get that damn skunk out of the jury box, damnit.

  7. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

    If you shouldn’t drive on it, you should not debate on it. 

  8. ThePaganTemple
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

    It was probably the Oxy that made it easier for these people to convince him to run, even though the same Oxy was the very reason he should not have run.

    Sadly, of all the people that run this year, he was probably the best, and best qualified. A successful governor with all the executive experience that entails, plus he and Bachmann were the only two real conservatives in the race, or at least the only real federalist, tea-party conservatives. A shame it didn’t work out for him, and also that his entry was probably what helped derail Bachmann before she really got off the ground.  

  9. Charles
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

    Makes one wonder if Rush may be again broadcasting on the Oxy.