Politico Asks an Impolite Question About Rick Perry


Whether he's dumb. It's probably not a good sign when a reporter needs to devote four pages and talk to multiple sources to answer that one. Of course, it's also not a great sign that the question was posed at all, or phrased that way. Even "Is Rick Perry smart?" would have been slightly less damaging.

So is he? Well, depends what you think dumb is. (One joke making the rounds: He's Bush without the brains.) We already know that the governor wasn't one for book learning. What about street smarts?

“In terms of sheer brains and understanding policy at a deep level, he’d rank pretty low,” said [political consultant Dave] McNeely, looking back at the chief executives he’s covered from John Connally on. “But as far power politics and control, he’s the most powerful Texas governor in history.”

Another consultant offered this assessment: “If he should know about John Locke, he’ll know about John Locke. If it’s not on his schedule, it’s irrelevant to him.” Presumably, he won't dine with the philosopher anytime soon, so he's off the hook for that one. A shame, really: Locke was a proponent of the tabula rasa theory of human intellect, which would be a good counter for Perry against those questioning his inherent mental capacities.

Perry prefers a different description for his brain, though.

“If Karl Rove hadn’t been my consultant, I would not have been agriculture commissioner today,” Perry told the Dallas Morning News in 1994, adding: “My brain is like a chicken pot pie. His is like a refrigerator that is all very organized — pickles here, salad there.”

That's actually a very sophisticated metaphor! With great economy, Perry indicated that he finds Rove cold, briney, and unsatisfying. Rick Perry, poet?

Is Rick Perry dumb? [Politico]