In my presidency course I have a lecture that begins with a nuts-and-bolts description of the daily life of the president. While it is a powerful and often glamorous position, it entails living a life that not many of us would want to have: the 16 hour workdays, the grueling travel schedule, the death threats (and oppressive level of security necessary around your family), everybody constantly bitching and moaning about how terrible you are, and most of all the incredible amount of stress that accompany all of the responsibility.

For these reasons and more, it's important that we have a psychologically strong president. Even if we have to accept a president with a terrible set of beliefs and issue positions, he or she should at least have a grip on sanity. That basic ability to perceive reality correctly and respond to one's surroundings in a lucid manner is a bare minimum qualification for the office.

The mental health of presidents is definitely challenged by the job. It must be hard to deal with all of that pressure without cracking. Perhaps some of them do crack – Nixon, Buchanan, Wilson – and the consequences are felt around the world. Fortunately we have a campaign process, one that is grueling and mentally draining in its own right, to weed out some of the wannabes who are all too ready to crack under the strain of the spotlight.

Like this guy.

If you have yet to see, hear, and experience Rick Perry's speech to the Cornerstone Church in New Hampshire, you must treat yourself. Much of the speculation since the speech has centered around whether Perry is drunk, high, or possibly both during this lamentable shitshow of a performance. To me it is more likely that he has simply cracked under the strain of high expectations and a heretofore underwhelming showing.

As much of a field day as the media had in 2004 with Howard Dean's "yee-haw" moment – incontrovertible evidence of his lack of psychological fitness for the presidency, we were repeatedly told – it will be interesting to hear the mighty Beltway sages' take on Perry's rambling, incoherent, and labile performance. We were flatly reminded that no one with Mr. Dean's red-faced temper could be trusted with his finger on The Button. While I suspect that most observers already recognize that Perry's campaign is dead in the water – it's more like watching someone commit suicide than an actual campaign, anyway – I can't wait to see whether they will make excuses for this bizarre public spectacle or call him out for the unstable lightweight he appears to be.

31 thoughts on “TENSION”

  • You touched on it with your mention of suicide: Perry is self-sabotaging. When he realized his campaign was unsalvageable he decided to jump before he was pushed.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    People gladly adopt the view the read or view of sources they are used to. Our media cannot, mentally cannot, be negative on Perry. He is right wing and he has great hair and he is from Texas. He has all one needs to president. People therefore like Perry.

    He will go away only if someone will look better. More right wing? Better hair?

  • He's rather adorably goofy here. It makes me like him a whole lot more than I expected.

    But do I want that in the Oval Office? Hell no.

  • There is obviously no one in the Republican field who is qualified to be President under your stated terms. Obviously. They are all crackpots, including Romney, who is also frighteningly craven.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Do not smoke locoweed and drink Jeremiah Weed before giving a speech at the Gardening Society Lunch.

    He actually looked like a HS Sophomore who'd been drinking Boone's Farm behind the gym.

  • Apparently you guys don't know how this works.

    Conservative politician shows emotion = Passionate

    "Left" politician shows emotion = Unhinged moonbat.

    It's based off of a similar standard:

    Man shows strong emotions: Passionate, deep

    Woman shows strong emotions: Over-emotional drama queen.

  • A propos: A blog called "Blondesense" had this exchange between Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore recently:

    From Keith:

    MOORE: Well, then, that’s very smart thinking on their part. I think, too — if I could broaden the Democratic Party problem here to a national scale.

    OLBERMANN: Yes, please.

    MOORE: You’ve got these nine Republicans running, all right? And, of course, we all laugh, and there’s the joke about — you can make about each one of them. And we know that our fellow Americans, at the end of the day — they’re not going to go in the voting booth and vote for crazy. Even though they might be upset at Obama, they’re not going to go crazy.

    So, it begs the question then. If this is the party of the rich — the Republicans — if this is the party of wealth and Wall Street, the party that brought about the crash of ’08, why don’t the wealthy — why aren’t the wealthy — making sure they have a Republican that’s running that’s gonna win?

    It doesn’t look like they’re concerned at all about making sure they’ve their man on the Republican ticket unless — unless they believe they’ve got their man on the Democratic Party ticket?

    OLBERMANN: Yeah.

    I'd submit unoriginally, then, that we have all these clowns on the Republican side because Obama is viewed as sufficiently tractable for the next four years by the plutocrat puppeteers for the next four years. Self-respecting potential candidates saw that the Right has a big friend in Obama and that the establishment wasn't interested in challenging him. So the relatively sane, respectable Republicans didn't run. But you can't beat this crowd for entertainment value.

  • If you haven't done so, Ed, you might examine the presidents from the prism of how much they were really in control of anything, other than the nuclear controls. In fact, I would suggest that the people surrounding a president are more important than the person holding the office (remember Al Haig?) In that regard, Obama has Bernanke Summers and Geithner who are Wall Street surrogates. Makes a cynic ask the question: Who is really in control, or as the saying goes, "Follow the money".

  • "I can't wait to see whether they will make excuses .. or call him out .."

    I think the Vegas odds are 19:1 "Make Excuses" right up until the word goes down that it's time to puff Romney, at which time it goes to 99 44/100:1 "Call Him Out".

  • I still think that he's on pain killers from his recent back surgery. If you've ever known anyone on (serious) pain killers, they go through these periods where they think they're making sense but no one else can understand them.

    That would, of course, disqualify him from being president. If true, and I am speculating.

  • Where does the "cornerstone" title come from? Because that's the same title given to the (in)famous speed by Confederate VP Alexander Stephens to justify secession.

    Here's the key passage:

    "Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition."

    If the "cornerstone" label comes from Perry or his staff, I can't imagine a more blatant indication of the constituency Perry is wooing. Except for the time Ronald Reagan kicked off his campaign in the same town where three civil rights workers were murdered less than two decades before.

  • The media will not allow Perry to be banished until he can lose in an OMG SUPERTIGHT race with Romney some weeks from now. All about the ratings, you know?

    The mental health of presidents should be challenged on the job, given how we've laid it out. Expecting all this hat-wearing from one person means that you'll have guaranteed failure in some areas. A good war chief is a bad peace chief, a great domestic prez is rarely an inspired foreign policy guy, a good caretaker chief is the wrong guy when expansion is needed, and so on. No one should be weak-minded, but no one is likely to be brilliant at all this stuff.

    Perry is weak. I still felt mortified for him. Titrate your meds, my friend. The last thing I want is to feel empathy for a resolutely-anti-everything-of-value tool from the Lone Star State, but I blushed for him. The Maddow clips made me wonder if he was a fan of MDMA, but the Daily Show clips made me think it was 2 Vikes and a Ketel shot.

    Wisely, he'll handle it by not handling it. "Never complain, never explain" is practically the GOP motto. All Perry needs to do is keep his mouth shut while the world watches Herman Cain's disco supernova flame out.

  • Ed, I am delighted to have learned a new word ("labile") from your post today! (I have a running joke with my students, who claim that I know "all the words" and like to test me by trying to surprise me with the kind of words that 9th graders think are impossibly hard. I enjoy this game and occasionally tell them I've learned a new word, to which they always respond by saying, "0_0".)

    In other news, I also find the content of you post enlightening, as always. :)

    AND I can't wait to bust out some (slightly edited) "Ed vs. Logical Fallacies" columns in the next section of my AP class's study of rhetoric. (I know they'd learn more if I let them read the dick jokes, but I like having a job, so….)

  • When I saw the video of Perry's speech I was immediately reminded of Jay Bulworth. I've since rewathed the movie and the similarity is even more apparent. Bulworth was however, an educated and intelligent man who had sold out. The similarity is that Perry has sold out.

  • @zak44

    Let me offer an alternate reading of 'Cornerstone' rather than the Confederate Flashback you propose.

    Many Christian Churches in the US have that word in their name as a reference to Jesus' words during a disputation w/ some of the religious leaders of His time. In Matt 21:42 He says:

    Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures, 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes.'?"

    No Rebs hiding under the bed here, move along…

    Perry is wasted. Been there and have worked w/ lots of people similarly conditioned.


  • The GOP machine couldn't have been pleased with Gov. Blowdrier's pronunciation of "NOUK-ya-kur."

    FOX needs to accept that it's going to the prom with Mittens. Maybe together they can create a job for the Arby's Oven Mitt.

  • The GOP machine couldn't have been pleased with Gov. Blowdrier's pronunciation of "NOUK-ya-kur."

    FOX needs to accept that it's going to the prom with Mittens. Maybe together they can create a job for the Arby's Oven Mitt.

  • Boy, was I reading too much into the title. As I should have known from Ed's text, and the cloth on the lectern, it's simply the name of the church where he spoke.


    But as I watched it again, I realized it actually gets weirder the second time around. Especially the business with the jar of maple syrup at the end—where Perry fondles the jar, turns it around, and peers at it like it's the Coke bottle in "The Gods Must Be Crazy."

  • "…it will be interesting to hear the mighty Beltway sages' take on Perry's rambling, incoherent, and labile performance…I can't wait to see whether they will make excuses for this bizarre public spectacle or call him out for the unstable lightweight he appears to be."

    Not only did both (technically) serve as governor of Texas, but Perry is about as incoherent as George Bush, Jr. was/is. Review that first debate with Gore and get back to me. Subliminable. The failed World Leader Test. And what have you. George Bush, Jr. was the son of a President with the same name and had the Big Money behind him, but neither fact disqualifies him from being decidedly dumb of ass.

  • Condaleezza Rice was on Letterman last night talking about 9/11. Apparently, W went to bed at 11 pm that night, and was irritated that protecting him meant taking him out of his comfy bed. Am I the only one that thought that something was wrong with him curling up to go to sleep at a pretty sane hour on an insane day?

  • @KellyD That's pretty scary…now watch me hit this ball!

    Seems like Perry was already dead in the water, sounding like an idiot in that speech in some weird way could only help his campaign?

    I don't know. I've tried mildly intellectually thinking about the Republican campaign, and it doesn't seem to payoff.

  • I think the award for "non sequitur argument of the year" should go to Chris here for his sterling "I know you are, but what am I" effort above.

  • I saw some footage I had not seen before on Bill Mahr's show for the first time last night. He was definitely fucked up on SOMETHING. Some dude handed him a bottle of maple syrup and he looked at it like he had never in his life seen syrup. Or a bottle. At least one that didn't contain bourbon.

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