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November 10, 2011
By Michael P. Delhomme, Contributing Columnist
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Last night’s Republican debate in Rochester, Michigan featured
one of the worst political gaffes in history. Governor Rick Perry
of Texas, lagging in the polls and needing a strong debate
performance, advocated the elimination of three Federal
agencies to close the yawning budget gap:  Pointing with his
thumb for emphasis, the Governor triumphantly began to tick
off the list of the 3 dead-men-walking agencies:  Commerce,
Department of Education and…and….?

The audience waited as the seconds ticked by. As seconds
stretched into an agonizing pause, it became clear…no, it can’t
be...this man, now in full glare of millions of Americans
watching…had actually forgotten the name of the third agency
he wanted to eliminate.  

There he was, lost in space.  There he was, a deer in headlights.
There he was, dying on stage.  Dying in the agony of the
silence.  

He was the singer who had forgotten the next line of the
National Anthem. With millions watching, no one can help.  At
that moment, a stage feels like a cold, black ocean. And you are
the unlucky sucker, abandoned, clinging to a piece of driftwood.
“EPA?”, a kind offer from his opponent Ron Paul.  Never before
had a lifeline thrown to a drowning man seemed more like an
iron anchor.   

More seconds.  The deed was done.  It was clear that Governor
Rick Perry had forgotten the third in a short list of 3 agencies.  
C’mon, 1-2-3!

“Can you remember the name of the other agency?”, one of the
reporters asked, trying to be helpful in that condescending way
that people “help” doddering elderly with failing eyesight cross
the street.

Too late. Too late seconds ago. Was it minutes ago, that I
started down this road?, Rick Perry must have wondered.  
Where did I miss the turn in the road? I thought I knew these
woods…oh well.

“No,sir, I can’t. Sorry, I can’t remember,oops”, Governor Perry
sighed, surrendering.  

And there it was.  The moment a candidate knows that he’s
been exposed as an impostor. That fear of being exposed as an
impostor is rather a healthy insecurity when you’re aspiring to
the highest office in the land.  In fact, I often wonder what
malignant ego wakes up in the morning so self-assured that
they think they were “born” to be President of the United
States. Better to be humbled to find yourself in so large a
moment.  But never, ever, having found yourself in so large a
moment, can you afford to look lost.

That was what happened to Governor Rick Perry last night. He
flung himself against a tidal wave-sized moment. The moment
won. Insufficiently humbled by the invitation of big-money
donors to run for President, he has not tried to bear down, do
his homework, grill, grill and grill some more, so as to make up
for what are his obvious shortcomings at public speaking. The
man fairly swaggers as he walks.  His natural manner of speech
can be charming.  The Governor’s nonchalance throughout this
campaign season suggests he views himself as a quarterback
who is so naturally gifted that he doesn’t need to practice hard
in the week before the big game, preferring instead to “wing
it”.  

But a Presidential Primary debate is not a moment when one’s
natural confidence should inspire you to “wing it”.

Winging it.  The Presidency is just not that kind of job.














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Now, you know half the story, enough for half an opinion. Find
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term in office and what other world leaders make
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Governor Rick Perry Has a Moment He's Rather
Forget
Rick Perry forgot the name of an
agency he wants to eliminate at
last night's debate