What Rick Perry Can Learn From Clark Griswold

In 2001, I loaded my three boys, ages 13, 10, and 8 at the time, into the car and headed to downtown St. Louis. The Cubs were in town, and I planned to introduce my boys to the greatest rivalry in pro sports. We parked (for twenty dollars) and headed toward the stadium. There was only one problem: we didn’t have any tickets. I planned to buy some on the street.

Scalpers were everywhere, but I underestimated the street value of tickets to this particular game. Four tickets together were hard to come by. I had over three hundred dollars in cash, but the few scalpers with sets of four demanded twice that. After forty minutes, I gave up.

clark-griswold-tree-240x300The boys didn’t complain as we listened to the first inning on the ride back to West County. They’d grown accustomed to dad’s ambitious plans falling apart. I’m pretty sure that when I wasn’t around, they called me “Clark Griswold.” And I know their friends did. (Thanks, Facebook.)

I’m reminded of this embarrassing episode every time I hear Rick Perry’s name.

I put high hopes on a Perry campaign earlier in the summer. I thought he was exactly what the country needed. He looks the part, he seemed great with the press, and he’s a former Democrat, just like Ronald Reagan. He seemed to have the right attitude, as well.

Rick Perry, though, is the Clark Griswold of presidential politics. Like my aborted baseballRickPerryDebateexcursion with the boys, Perry’s campaign strategy seems to have stopped with his announcement. His debate performances—all of them—have been dreadful.

This will sound uncharitable and condescending, but I know of no other way to say it: Rick Perry doesn’t seem to know very much.

He might be intelligent in IQ (I don’t honestly know), but he seems to lack the most basic information about important matters like Pakistani nukes and climate scientists. (Would it be too much to carry a card with “Dr. Roy Spencer” or “Roger Pielke Sr” written on it? Really?)

His defense of tuition credits for illegals irritates many, but at least he knows what the DREAM Act is.

It is Perry’s lack of stamina bothers me the most, though. He seems to punch himself out in the first round of these debates. He seemed to punch himself out in the first 72 hours of his campaign, too. I’m afraid that he’d collapse in exhaustion immediately after the GOP convention. Or, if elected, he’d end up in a sanitarium on a Caribbean island recuperating for six months immediately following the inauguration. For such a rugged looking man, he seems fragile.

Take it from a father who lives every day with the guilt of having been less than a perfect parent: Rick Perry doesn’t want to take a job that he can’t handle. Not when the world seems to be crumbling and frightened eyes everywhere look toward Uncle Sam for guidance and strength and ideas and hope.

And if you don’t believe me, just ask Barack Obama.

A Disgraceful Presidency

Historians will mark March 19 as the day the Obama presidency reached its point of no return.

Obama Toasts His War in Rio

The image of a cowardly and selfish child-president flying to Brazil to launch a war will haunt his legacy, like Nixon’s vulgarities on tape in 1974. Obama’s war on Libya has doomed an already weak administration.

Today, Germany pulled out of NATO because of the bungled, late, and idiotic intervention.  It appears, now, that the alliance that won the Cold War and help sustain two decades of peace could collapse under a lack of American leadership.

Yesterday, the Obamas cut short their South American vacation, returning early to Washington. Obama is now scrambling to rescue, not only his presidency, but whatever prestige America might have left. 

From his obsequious bows to foreign leaders to his denunciations of the USA in foreign and enemy lands, Mr. Obama seemed, for a time, bent on knee-capping American influence around the world.  Having succeeded in damaging our world image, he now wonders why things are so chaotic and dangerous.

A combination of weak decisions – or no decisions – set up what seems to be a no-win situation for Obama, NATO, and the US, not to mention Qaddafi’s internal foes.

First, Obama vacillated for weeks about what to do. Instead of using the time to consult Congress and request authorization to use force—as George W. Bush had done repeatedly—Obama filled out basketball brackets.  And that lost time was crucial.

Second, Qaddafi used Obama’s delays to counterattack the rebels. Two weeks ago, rebels controlled all but Tripoli. By the time Obama acted, rebels were under siege in their final bastion of Benghazi. 

Third, Obama has ruled out both the use of ground troops in Libya and targeting Qaddafi. This combination has frustrated our friends and reassured our foes.  It makes a long stalemate likely, increases the probability of mass starvation and continued death and misery for the innocents. 

Yesterday, when asked how long a no-fly zone might last in Libya, a British Member of Parliament told BBC news, “the no-fly zone over Iraq lasted the better part of a decade.” 

History shows that standoffs like the one facing us in Libya hurt the people in the country the most. There are often food shortages, as happened in Iraq and in Haiti, as dictators seize food supplies for themselves and their supporters.  There are often massacres that escape the watchful eye of the UN and NATO, as happened throughout the Iraq no-fly zone period.  And there is corruption, as (French) companies and politicians exploit embargos and sanctions to demand black market prices of both dictators and the oppressed.

Meanwhile, important questions about Obama’s odd foreign policy remain unanswered.

During the 2008 campaign, everyone from Hillary Clinton to Rush Limbaugh and Rudy Giuliani warned voters to avoid inexperienced and weak candidates like Obama.  But we elected him anyway. 

The chickens are coming home to roost.