Thursday, November 03, 2011

Perry: Plastered?

I probably shouldn't write about Rick Perry, since his campaign is toast. Still, there's no freude like schadenfreude, and I can't help taking an interest in the debate over the Texas governor's instantly-infamous New Hampshire speech. Was he high? Or is this man simply a born buffoon?

This blogger (previously unknown to me) votes for "buffoon":
But Rick Perry wasn’t on drugs, he’s just that dumb. For years, he’s hidden his intellectual inadequacies behind a blustery bravado that blinded us to his stupidity. As I watched him physically intimidate Ron Paul and shout over Mitt Romney during the debates, I assumed Perry’s chief ignorance was his belief in bullying as a campaign strategy. But I missed the point: Rick Perry’s chief ignorance is his ignorance – he’s an idiot.
On the other hand...
I live in Texas--Perry has been governor forever, and I've never seen him like that. He is usually very packaged and controlled and typically comes across more as a seething bully/slithery politician than the drunken Aggie who was in those clips. Then again, most of the soundbites that appear in the Texas media are things he wanted us to see.
Rachel Maddow interviewed a reporter that has followed Perry for 20ish years. He stated he has only seen Perry act like that once before and that was this year at CPAC in Feb. Absolutely every other time he's spoken it was as you describe it. The feb instance tends to rule out the June back surgery angle. This suggests either new meds with unexpected side effects or missing the meds that keep him grounded the rest of the time. If either of these, the next question is what are the meds for specifically?
Apparently, he had not been drinking before the speech...
"I can tell you unequivocally he wasn't drinking at the event and he hadn't been drinking prior to the event," said Kevin Smith, executive director of conservative group Cornerstone Action, which organized the event, told The Hill. "I was sitting with him, and I found him to be very engaging with all of the people he was talking with, he was very articulate."

According to Smith, Perry drank "only water" in the period leading up to his address. He also said that the general reaction by the Granite State audience had been, "wow, he hit it out of the park" with the speech.
Is it possible that the folks in NH actually liked what they heard? Gawker certainly has it wrong:
The only qualities Perry exhibited that evening were those of someone "articulate, animated and loose" — kind of like vintage Charles Nelson Reilly on a particularly engaging episode of Match Game.
That -- and I'm not making a joke here -- is deeply insulting to the memory of Charles Nelson Reilly. I presume those calling Perry "articulate" do so in the same sense one might nickname a seven-foot bruiser "Tiny."

The most persuasive diagonosis I've seen is this one:
I’m not a psychologist, but I’m the child of someone who’s bipolar — and I know bipolar people well — and this has the *exact* qualities of mania. It’s possible to experience manic episodes from a handful of medical (or chemical) conditions, but as someone who grew up around a LOT of mania, I’d bet money that Governor Perry is expressing it here. Look up ‘mania’ on wikipedia to learn more.
Maybe the answer is simpler. I posit that Perry's handlers have continually told him that his debate performances were too stiff, so he psyched himself into a "loose as a goose" state of mind. Or mindlessness. "Just be yourself," they told him -- and ohmygod, that's who he really is.
I hadn't actually watched that before now, but I think you've got it right Joe. He doesn't seem drunk or on drugs to me (though I suppose there are a ton of different drugs out there that could alter his behavior in that way). I suspect that your assessment is quite close to the truth. Advisors told him to "loosen up" and he took it to the extreme.

However, the mania suggestion is quite possible as well, judging from his politics.
"Was he high? Or is this man simply a born buffoon?"

Death to the Either/Or!
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