Calculated Risk

Stanley Kurtz on Perry’s promise and problem:

I’m impressed by Rick Perry. He’s got an effective speaking style. I like his book, Fed Up! I’ve also defended Perry against a biased New York Times hit piece. Perry still needs to be vetted on the campaign trail, but on current indications, given his extensive gubernatorial experience, sterling record on job creation, and ability to unite the libertarian and social conservative wings of the party, Perry would make a great nominee. Having said all that, I think we need to be honest with ourselves about Perry’s potential vulnerability.

The Left has been busily mining Perry’s book Fed Up! for material they can use to paint him as an extremist. It’s not a fair claim, as I’ve already argued, but there’s enough rhetorical ammunition around that the claim will be made — and made repeatedly — nonetheless. The latest example comes from Ruth Marcus. Ramesh and Michael Barone have responded to Marcus’s most explosive charge, but the fundamental controversy remains.

The easiest way for Perry to diffuse the raft of charges that will continue to be made against him based on Fed Up! would be to put forward some concrete proposals on entitlements. Perry could embrace the Ryan plan, or offer a Medicare proposal of his own. He could also express support for Social Security, while calling for a higher retirement age for people now 55 and younger. These moves would carry political risks, of course, but given the unrelenting attacks that will be leveled at Perry on entitlements, doing nothing may be riskier still.

Barring that move, Perry could still be an excellent and successful Republican presidential nominee. Yet I think it’s fair to say that, as it stands today, he’d be a riskier pick than Romney.

A calulated risk for Republicans? We need reform. We need a candidate who will embrace entitlement reform rather than run hiding.

More on the risk:

David Catron recently claimed that, while Perry can beat Obama, Romney cannot. While Catron makes some good points, I’m not persuaded. Even if Romney finds it awkward to attack Obama on health care, he’ll do it anyway — and it will work. In this case, the conventional wisdom is right. To the extent that the campaign is a referendum on Obama, he loses. To the extent that it becomes a choice election, Obama has a chance to win. In the public’s mind, this election is already going to be a referendum on Obama. So Romney will be treated as a clear alternative, even before he begins to criticize. On the other hand, unless Perry takes steps to diffuse the attacks on his book with clarifying proposals, he may become almost as much of an issue as Obama. That would make Perry the riskier choice.

I disagree. I fail to see how Romney can effectively criticize Obamacare with the Romneycare albatross ’round his neck. I’m willing to take a calculated risk rather than end up with Obama-lite. Romney may be capable of revving the economic engine again, but at what expense? More regulation? More “compromise” with liberals?

No thanks.

Linked as a “Featured Blog” at Pundit & Pundette. Myriad thanks!

Holy Smokes! Linked by Doug Ross in Larwin’s Linx. Thanks!

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