To be fair, if you and I had to be up on stage with Charlie Rose and Karen Tumulty, we’d be soporifically stupefied after a few minutes, too.
But then again, we’re not running for the highest office in the land and raising millions of dollars from people across the country who are counting on a candidate with the guts, gall, and gumption to take on Barack Obama.
By those basic measures of fitness for office, Rick Perry once again failed to deliver. He was languid. Passive. Half-hearted. Listless. Just like he was during the 9/23 debate.
I’m really, really trying to be nice.
Looks like Team Perry’s plan to have him sleep more isn’t working.
At one point during the debate, candidates were allowed to question each other. Armed with the golden gift of new White House records showing intimate meetings between Romneycare architect Jonathan Gruber and the Obama administration, Perry mumbled a jovial question at Romney for a few seconds — after which Romney steamrolled him with his usual spin for the next several minutes.
Perry disappeared somewhere under the table after that. Or maybe he was playing Words with Friends on his iPhone. Or looking at his watch George H.W. Bush-style.
At another point, Perry mentioned “block granting” — several times — as the answer to America’s fiscal prayers.
Crickets chirped in the audience.
His next golden opportunity to show a fighting spirit came when Tumulty asked him about Obama’s Solyndra disaster.
He failed to go after Obama’s crony corruption (perhaps because of all the skeletons in his own closet).
He failed to go after the green jobs racket (perhaps because of all the skeletons in his own closet).
And instead, he defended the state-level subsidies game of picking winners and losers.
Cringe-worthy x 1,000. From the debate transcript:
MS. TUMULTY: Right. Governor Perry, taxpayers stand to lose half a billion dollars in the collapse of Solyndra, which is a solar energy firm that was a centerpiece of the Obama green jobs initiative. Do you think there were inadequate safeguards there, or do you think this is just the risk we run when the government gets involved in subsidizing new industries and technologies?
GOV. PERRY: Well, I don’t think the federal government should be involved in that type of investment, period. If states want to choose to do that, I think that’s fine for states to do that.
Fine for the states to siphon taxpayer money away from workers and redistribute it to cronies behind closed doors in sweetheart deals?
Taxpayers continue to pay the bill for cronyism as the debt balloons, the dollar collapses, and our credit rating falls. From the 2008 financial meltdown, the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac debacle, and multiple pork-laden stimulus bills to auto bailouts, TARP, and easy federal loans for speculative projects, the costs mount.
With such a clear pattern of corruption and special deals for contributors and insiders, how could Republicans possibly fail to capitalize on Obama’s reckless waste of taxpayer money in rewarding his biggest fundraisers? Republicans can easily throw away the advantage by nominating a candidate with a record of rewarding friends and donors with the spoils of government power.
In Texas, bio-tech firm Convergen LifeSciences looks a lot like Governor Rick Perry’s Solyndra.
Governor Perry manages the Emerging Technology Fund (ETF), providing financial support to companies developing new technology in the hope of creating high-tech jobs. First created in 2005, ETF is made up of regional panels that screen proposals for a statewide advisory panel (all appointed by Perry). ETF dispersed $342 million through August 2010.
Like Solyndra, Convergen’s project to develop a lung cancer treatment was easily identified as a speculative endeavor. Convegen’s proposal was rejected at the regional review board, part of the normal ETF evaluation process designed to insulate the program from politics.
Solyndra had George Kaiser, mega-fund-raiser for Obama. Convergen had David Nance, mega-donor for Perry. Nance is the founder of Convergen. Despite several business and personal bankruptcies — including previously failed companies partially funded by the state — Nance managed to donate $335,000 to Perry’s campaigns, association fundraisers, and foundation.
As in the case of Solyndra, Convergen received help in circumventing the normal process. This part is very murky. Somehow, the proposal that failed the regional review was presented at the closed-door session of the state advisory panel (which previously included Nance), where it was approved. While the governor’s office claimed that an appeal was filed, there is no appeals process in ETF’s charter. The process by which Convergen received $4.5 million — the highest amount ever awarded — was “extraordinary.”
Where Solyndra received a below-inflation interest rate, Convergen gave Texas an 8% annual interest promissory note with no due date.
Just like Solyndra, the principal investors unloaded risks on taxpayers. According to the previously secret state grant application, Convergen founders put up only $1,000 each, while Texas taxpayers put up $4.5 million. They were entering phase II clinical trials in late 2010, but only 33% of successful phase II drugs make it to market, and the success rate for cancer drugs is only 4.7%.
The big difference between Solyndra and Convergen is that Convergen hasn’t failed. Not yet, at least. The odds of success might be better than a roulette wheel, but this is taxpayer money.
Convergen is not an isolated case, either. In fact, Nance previously received state money “at the direction of the Governor’s budget office” for a now-bankrupt company which still owes Texas $50,000. Max Talbott served on Perry’s ETF panel and simultaneously was a paid consultant for several firms that sought and received money from the ETF. While he claims that he recused himself for some conflicts (in closed-door sessions), conflict of interest questions remain for other clients; $16 million of ETF funds went to the firms of major Perry donors, and $27 million of ETF funds went to firms of former ETF advisory board members.
There are also questions about unusual access by lobbyists who went to work for Perry and then returned to lobbying for firms doing business with the state.
Fail. Texas-sized fail.
The knives didn’t really come out for Herman Cain, whose most serious wound was self-inflicted. Bachmann made a good point about his 9-9-9 plan paving the way for a national sales tax/VAT. Santorum barked about it for a few minutes, too.
But then, the real stumble: Asked to endorse a candidate for the Federal Reserve, Cain chose his old friend Alan Greenspan.
I’ll agree with Ron Paul on this much: Greenspan was a disaster.
Michele Bachmann did best attacking Medicare/Obamacare bureaucracies and, like Cain, looked to be angling for a VP slot.
Newt was Newt. Rick Santorum mostly watched, then piped up for a few seconds to complain about not having enough time.
As for that squishy liberal tan guy from Utah, my mute button got a workout with all of the time he received from Charlie Rose and the No Labels sympathizers. I’m renaming my mute button the “Huntsman button.”
And Romney? Ugh. Main takeaway: He defended TARP — echoed by Cain — and refused to say he would oppose the next massive bailout to come along when another manufactured crisis hits. More of the same old big biz/big government corporatism. The inconvenient truth I’ve pointed out since GW Bush sold out the free market to save it and pre-socialized the economy for Obama is that TARP is ideological quicksand for almost every Beltway Republican. That’s why the Tea Party movement was born in the first place. Let’s not forget it.
Big winner: Barack Obama.
Big loser: Taxpayers.
Runner-up loser: Bloomberg TV’s livestream. Suckage.
Worst mangling of English language: Perry’s use of the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo “impactful.”
Damn, it’s a long road to 2012.
Word to Rick Perry: Nytol will help you get your zzzz’s, but if it’s this draining for you at the primary election stage, maybe this dog ain’t huntin’.
If you can’t convince rank-and-file conservatives you have the gas, pull over and let someone else drive. We tried a GOP candidate running on half a tank in 2008. Don’t need a repeat of that disaster.
Dana Loesch on Perry’s botched Romney attack: “Perry had a golden opportunity to put the screws to him and fumbled.”
David Freddoso: “Perry played it safe and lost.”
John Hinderaker: “Rick Perry, during the half of the debate that I saw, bordered on invisible. I don’t know whether the pundits who say this was make or break for Perry are right, but it certainly was not a strong night for him. One thing that strikes me as odd is how little mileage Perry gets out of his job creation record in Texas. He mentioned it a time or two, but, as in prior debates, he didn’t use it effectively as the foundation of his claim to be the strongest candidate.”
See also: Perry #fail.
Here comes the CYA:
After a two-hour debate on the economy, earnest GOP operatives headed straight to the spin room to tout the merits of their respective candidates.
As for Texas Gov. Rick Perry,he headed straight to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.
“Debates are not my strong suit,” Perry told about 100 fraternity brothers gathered to see him at the house, a few blocks from the debate site on the campus of Dartmouth College.
Swell. Just what Obama ordered…