Rick Perry: Not Ready For Prime Time

Yesterday Rick Perry made the astonishing claim that it was a mistake for him to participate in this year’s GOP presidential debates:

“These debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates. It’s pretty hard to be able to sit and lay out your ideas and your concepts with a one-minute response,” the Texas governor told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly. “So, you know, if there was a mistake made, it was probably ever doing one of the [debates], when all they’re interested in is stirring up between the candidates instead of really talking about the issues that are important to the American people.”

The mind boggles. Perry regrets participating in the debates because, by his own admission, he has not performed well in them. But voters expect presidential candidates to be able to articulate their ideas, answer questions and respond to criticisms. These are not optional skills for a presidential candidate. The idea that Perry could have stayed away from the debates, on the ground that he isn’t very good at them, and remained a serious candidate for the GOP nomination seems almost delusional.

Then there is Perry’s bizarre excursion into birtherism:

In an interview with Parade Magazine published Sunday, Perry said he does not know if Obama’s birth certificate is authentic. He continued to press that point in an interview with John Harwood of CNBC and the New York Times that aired Tuesday, saying: “It’s a good issue to keep alive. . . . It’s fun to poke [Obama] a little bit and say, ‘Hey, let’s see your grades and your birth certificate.’ I don’t have a clue about where the president — and what this birth certificate says.”

Wrong. Obama’s birthplace is not “a good issue to keep alive,” it is a dumb distraction from what next year’s election needs to be about: Obama’s record in office. And for a candidate to announce that it is “fun” to “poke [the president] a little bit” does not exactly raise that candidate’s stature.

By all accounts, Perry has been a very good governor of Texas, but as a presidential candidate he is out of his depth.