As a comedian, I can only watch Rick Perry and think, "I owe George W. Bush an apology."
Of all the witless gaffes Rick Perry has made of late in his bid for the Republican nomination, the funniest may be his inadvertent choice of wardrobe. In his latest ad, Perry laments the state of a nation where "gays can serve openly in the military but kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school," as if one had anything to do with the other, but never mind. In the ad he strolls among the trees, accompanied by a soundtrack seemingly stolen from a John Williams score, wearing the exact same light brown jacket with dark brown lapels worn by Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain.
I can only hope this was planned by a smart-alec gay dresser, knowing what kind of commercial Perry was about to film, exacting revenge in the same subtle way Jimmy Fallon's house band introduced Michele Bachmann with "Lyin' Ass Bitch." Whatever, an amoeba should know that you don't film an anti-gay ad wearing a costume worn by the star of the most successful gay-themed film in history. If Perry or his aides didn't realize this fashion faux pas, they're even stupider than they seem, which is epic.
But the clueless Perry has repeatedly shown that he parks more than a few feet from the curb. In a debate he couldn't remember the names of three federal agencies he would eliminate, or why. He mistook the voting age as 21. He appeared drunk, rambling, downright silly -- and quite effeminate -- during a recent speech. He repeatedly questions the legitimacy of Barack Obama's citizenship, a matter settled ages ago and of interest to only the most moronic Fox News dittoheads.
Most recently, he identified the number of Supreme Court justices as eight (there are -- duh -- nine), referred to them as "not elected" (they are -- duh -- nominated and then confirmed by the Senate) and then pronounced the name of Justice Sonia Sotomayor as "Motomayor." Where George W. Bush had difficulty with words and sentences but seemed to know basic policy, Perry doesn't seem to know anything. Really, think about it -- compared to Perry, Bush seems like Galileo.
But most offensive are his pathetic attempts to court the votes of the most radical fringe of the Christian right, accusing Obama of conducting a nonexistent "war on religion" because kids can't have a moment of prayer in public schools, as if Obama had anything to do with it. Showing a staggering ignorance of law and history beyond most high school students, Perry seems like a marionette manipulated by a particularly clumsy World Net Daily puppeteer. You can't believe the show if you can see the puppeteer's hands.
In the ad Perry says, "I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian," as if being part of a well-funded religion that enjoys tax-exempt status and majority status in America is anything to be ashamed of. But Perry is playing right into the Christian-as-victim mentality that inflates the slightest disagreement with their most radical factions into an anti-Christian bigotry. The most rudimentary gay rights are seen as, in the words of convicted Watergate felon turned Evangelical preacher Charles Colson, as "intimidating" religious freedom: "We've fallen into the spiral of silence, in which case the people who might be a tiny minority but are controlling the conversation intimidate the rest of us."
The poor, put-upon Christians. Gay rights and religious freedom are mutually exclusive, because churches and religious organizations are perfectly free to preach anything they want and always will be. But Perry does know that their resentment at the advances of gays might gain him a handful of voters, those voters who resent that anti-discrimination laws were designed to sort of prevent them from, er, discriminating. What he doesn't seem to know, or care about, is that this kind of divisive rhetoric was played out, and rejected by the majority, long ago. That train has left the station.
Perry seems to exist in a hermitically sealed world that just can't understand or deal with the fact that change has come and the country isn't the backwoods Texas church social they grew up in, and that a large part of the population looks upon him and his kind as a bunch of uninformed hicks. But by merely opening his mouth Perry plays into this cliché, like a drag queen lipsynching Diana Ross and then complaining about stereotyping.
Not only that, but Perry seems unaware that some Christians might be uncomfortable with their religion being used as a political weapon. Fortunately, polls indicate that his brief moment in the spotlight has ended, and Perry will go back to doing whatever he does as governor of a state ranking near the bottom in education, and hang out with those good old boys who yearn for the U.S. to return to what made Amurrica great, when we didn't have to hear about them damn queers.
Meanwhile, what about that fabulous jacket?