“Treat him pretty ugly,” huh?

The explosion of condemnation over Rick Perry’s supposed faux pax shocked me. Not, mind you, his own words:

On Tuesday, talking about the Fed’s policy of keeping the economy afloat by injecting money (given the anodyne name of “quantitative easing”), Perry commenced with the down-home Texas rhetoric:

“If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas,” he said.

“Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous — or treasonous — in my opinion.”

The depth and breadth of disapproval bothered me. Everyone came out against Perry’s aside. Reading this helped:

The real news isn’t the rhetorical gaffe but the substance and politics of Mr. Perry’s demarche. Here we have a Presidential candidate, a Texas populist no less, laying out a position in favor of sound money. This is a bear walking on its hind legs. The ghosts of Wright Patman and Henry B. Gonzalez are howling in the Hill Country.

The media trope of the week is that Mr. Perry is George W. Bush only more so, but he clearly isn’t the same on monetary policy. Mr. Bush, who first appointed Mr. Bernanke, was an easy-money, weak-dollar President. He and his former economic advisers still don’t understand how Alan Greenspan’s policies at the Fed contributed to the credit and housing manias that led to the financial meltdown that caused the GOP’s political undoing in 2008.

Mr. Perry seems to appreciate that the Federal Reserve can’t conjure prosperity from the monetary printing presses. His articulation needs some work, but we hope the Texan doesn’t let media and other criticism deter him from pursuing the argument. The issue is crucial to understanding—and explaining to the American public—how the meltdown happened and why Americans are so unhappy with the current recovery.

The Texas Governor has a better insight into middle-class economic anxiety than do most Washington-Wall Street elites. Americans intuitively understand that their after-inflation incomes haven’t risen for a decade. Even when incomes rose during the growth years from 2003-2007, the gains were undermined by the rising cost of housing, as well as by rising food and energy prices.


Merely by raising the Fed as a subject, Mr. Perry has sent a political signal to the folks at the Eccles Building to tread carefully as they conduct monetary policy in the coming months. This alone is a public service. Mr. Perry and the other GOP candidates should be more careful in their language, and more precise about the Fed’s mistakes. But they shouldn’t shrink from debating the subject of sound money that is so crucial to restoring American prosperity.

From the WSJ, no less. I don’t think Perry stuck his foot in it. I laughed when I read it initially, and I still do: real people connect (sorry, Karl Rove) with Perry, and he gave voice to a very specific and very real threat to our economic stability in a way that made folks laugh. I can’t fault that. Do you?

A “Featured Blog” at Pundit & Pundette. Thanks!


3 Responses

  1. I certainly think that Bernanke should be open to criticism, but i do think calling him treasonous is inappropriate. That may have been good red meat for some conservatives, but I think it lowered Perry’s status. I didn’t think it was presidential. He could have criticized him with more appropriate language.

  2. Ha! Gig ’em, Rick! I hope the progressives and the media have solid shoes on because they are going to be walking backwards non-stop from here on out. Governor Perry said exactly what he meant to say, and voters all over the country jumped up in delight to hear honest words from a guy running for office.

    Perry is a good governor, and a solid leader. He represents everybody but without betraying his values. Predictable, reliable governance that embraces change when necessary and goes after genuine innovation with a passion. The best of all worlds.

  3. Perry is misquoted. Printing money out of thin air to help Obama destroy this ailing country is treasonous!

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