Manning Up: The Rick Perry Problem

By Powers, John | The American Prospect, December 2011 | Go to article overview

Manning Up: The Rick Perry Problem


Powers, John, The American Prospect


In Master of the Senate, the third volume of his massive, still-unfinished biography of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro devotes a memorable paragraph to the great man's fondness for exhibiting his sexual equipment, which, with characteristic humility, he called "Jumbo."

   If he was urinating in a bathroom
   of the House Office Building and a
   colleague came in, Johnson, finishing,
   would sometimes turn to him
   with his penis in his hand. Without
   putting it back in his pants, he
   would begin a conversation, still
   holding it, "and shaking it, as if he
   was showing off," says one man
   with whom he did this. He asked
   another man, "Have you ever seen
   anything as big as this?"

Now, I don't know the slightest thing about Governor Rick Perry's endowment or whether he's endowed it with a nickname, but when he entered the Republican presidential race in mid-August, he did so in the same spirit as a Method actor auditioning for the lead in Hung. Flaunting his broad shoulders and the overbearing smile of a man who jogs carrying a laser-sighted pistol, he swaggered onto the campaign trail reeking of what we might call Texastosterone, the time-honored Lone Star hormone that not only enhances the feeling of being manlier than other men but positively compels you to brag on it.

Perry instantly went to the front of the pack, much to the baffled horror of liberals. In a sane world, surely the presidency of George W. Bush would have accomplished one positive thing--inoculating even Republicans against voting for another provincial, evangelical Texas governor eager to pass himself off as a tough hombre. Especially when Perry soon showed all the symptoms of Bushcan maladroitness, flubbing his attempts to label Mitt Romney a flip-flopper and calling Pakistan "the Pakistani country" much as Bush once delightfully termed Greeks "the Grecians."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

But if Perry's fluffs were seized on by a media eager to write him off as unready for the national stage, his personal style--the strut, the cocky smile, the inflammatory words, the evident lack of concern over getting things wrong--remains one that tens of millions of Americans still find hugely attractive. Even as it gives liberals the heebie-jeebies, such barroom braggadocio is catnip to the right, which sees it as an antidote to the weaseling effeteness of the Democratic elite. Republicans love the idea of their candidate--be it Perry or the lamented no-show Chris Christie--debating Professor, er, President Obama and pulverizing his pedantry with straight talk. After all, what they loved most about Reagan wasn't all that Morning in America shinola, it was Dutch snapping, "I paid for this microphone," or intoning, "Mr. Gorbaehev, tear down this wall" (which, if we're being honest, really was a rousing line).

Once vain about being more cultured than the left--think of William F. Buckley and his Latinisms, George F. Will and his Bartlett's--today's conservatives are happier with machismo, even when it comes from women: Sarah Palin blasting wolves from her chopper, Michele Bachmann telling Obama to "man up" about Israel. Naturally, this doesn't mean that they actually want a woman to be president. That's one reason the rightwing base was so stoked when Perry first entered the race. It wasn't only that he's on their side ideologically and theologically, brazenly saying the scary stuff that Bush kept hidden when he first ran in 2000. Perry fits their fantasy of what their side should look and sound like. He's not an unelectable oddball like Ron Paul, an overreaching Sunday-school teacher like Google-tormented Rick Santorum, or a publicity-loving flash in the pan like Herman Cain, who, rather like his former company's pizza, specializes in crustiness Smothered with cheese. Above all, Perry isn't the staggeringly synthetic Romney, who may look like a hologram of the perfect president but sounds like that old line from Groucho Marx: "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Manning Up: The Rick Perry Problem
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.