Rick Perry, Down Not Out

Despite his lackluster debate performances, the Texas governor is still very much a viable contender for the presidency.

Governor Rick Perry hasn’t had a couple of very good weeks. His popularity has plummeted after a series of disappointing debate performances which culminated last week in the now infamous “oops” moment when he couldn’t remember it was the Department of Energy he would like to eliminate.

The governor was instantly written off as a serious contender. No presidential candidate, the commentariat declared, could survive a gaffe so embarrassing. Rick Perry’s campaign, they said, is over.

Yet less than week after the incident, Perry unveiled a comprehensive plan to “uproot and overhaul” Washington and defended it credibly and concisely on a number of television shows.

If Perry had his way, Congress would be made a part-time legislature, lawmakers’ pay would be cut, federal spending capped at 18 percent of gross domestic product and all regulations enacted during the Obama Administration audited with many of them, one supposes, repealed — foremost among them, Obamacare.

It was hardly the first time that Perry avenged himself with a bold and conservative policy proposal. His optional 20 percent flat tax was also presented to primary voters after he had tried to attack Mitt Romney’s flipflopping in debate and failed — a feat in itself for Romney’s lack of consistency will be the stuff of legends one day.

It’s precisely because conservatives so mistrust Romney that Perry still stands a chance of winning the nomination.

Social Security privatization, a flat tax, government reform — it’s like Perry is ticking off a box on the Tea Party wish list every other week to actually make Washington as “inconsequential” in people’s lives as possible. Does anyone expect Romney to ever do the same?

Right now, Perry is in single digits in most nationwide polls but if Herman Cain continues to pretend that presidents don’t need to know anything other than “9-9-9” to get elected and once Newt Gingrich inevitably implodes, there will be an opportunity for the Texan to rally the conservative base and position himself as the true anti-Romney. He has the experience of fostering economic success in his state and boasts an impressive campaign war chest that will be utilized to demolish whichever candidate won’t get out of the way after Iowa and South Carolina have both voted in January. If Romney doesn’t manage to lock up the nomination in Nevada and Florida the next month, he probably never will and there’s a clear path for Perry to the Republican candidacy.