Rick Perry’s Three Problems

Tonight’s debate was fascinating and not just because we got the clearest answer yet from Ron Paul on how much he sympathizes with Al Qaida. Essentially, Rick Perry’s front-runner status was on full display as single-digit pollers like Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann went aggressively after him, as did his primary rival, Mitt Romney. I think every debate viewer will have a different take on how Perry handled the criticisms from a debate standpoint and a political standpoint, and I don’t think it really matters. I think he was really strong at some points and really weak at others. But I want to focus on the substance of the three issues involved tonight to see if Perry has anything out there that should cause a conservative to re-think their support of him.

(1) Social Security – I don’t really believe what I am seeing here. He is being criticized, by conservatives, for pointing out the disaster of the largest government entitlement program in history? What in the world am I missing that Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann of all people are criticizing Perry for criticizing social security? It is a disaster, it is not in the jurisdiction of the federal government, it has not been funded, and the demographics involved mean utter failure. Perry is dead right here, and I am really, really impressed that he is holding his ground.

(2) HPV vaccine issue – I am pretty bored by this whole thing. He says he wishes he hadn’t signed the order. What else do you want him to say? Bachmann’s innuendo about Merck is both childish and idiotic. And I don’t mean to burst the ideological bubble of my fellow parental rights advocates (of which I am one), but unless Bachmann and Santorum want to come out in opposition to ALL compulsory vaccinations, I suggest they shut up before someone out there who has been trained to think points out the inane hypocrisy in their position. Do you think Bachmann and Santorum want to be forced to say that they oppose all mandatory vaccinations? That would be the only position consistent with the venom they are attaching to this issue. Perry’s executive order was a dog. He regrets it. Time to move on.

(3) DREAM Act/Immigration – the Ann Coulter’s of the party tweeted tonight that this is the issue they are having a hard time with Gov. Perry on, and all I can say is, unlike issue #1 and issue #2, I get that many Republicans are just not going to like Perry’s views here. The problem, though, is that Perry is right, and they are wrong. His view, which happens to be my view, is anathema to many of the anti-immigrationists in our party. I think it will be a conversation in the primary, but if Perry wins the primary, it will help him in the general election, not hurt him.

If one watches Perry tonight on all three of these issues, they ought to be impressed with his resolve. He is standing by his positions even where they may not be popular. Flip-flopping on every major issue has been the way of life for some candidates. Whether you like him or not, and whether Perry will win or lose the nomination because of these issues, it is indisputable that he has dug in his heels, and is not backing down.