November 2nd, 2011
If you haven’t seen the video of the “highlights” of Rick Perry’s speech at the Cornerstone Action Awards Dinner in New Hampshire last Friday, check it out below — this copy alone has already been viewed over 800,000 times. [Note that the Post has the full speech as well.]
I’ll leave others to decide whether Brother Rick was drunk, giddy, stoned or just feeling a little loose that night, but what fascinates me is how quickly this particular clip has affected how people see him as a candidate. Back in the pre-internet days, politicians could say different things to different crowds, or be a little “loose” on the stump here and there, and no one would know outside the particular hall in which the remarks were delivered. Even if a political journalist reported what someone had said, it was often buried somewhere in a local newspaper or seen only on local TV news.
But the internet/cable TV axis changes everything: a candidate gives a wobbly speech or has a Macaca Moment and we all see it, and fast. Audio, too — remember that Obama’s “clinging to guns or religion” remark blew up in 2008 after it was released by a citizen journalist (and Obama supporter) who recorded it at a fundraiser.
In this case, the video spread particularly quickly because it reinforced an idea people already had about Perry, that he’s maybe not the sharpest crayon in the Republican presidential box. Plus, I think part of its appeal lies in the gap between Perry’s portrayal as the Next Great Thing a couple of months back, the inevitable Front Runner, and the fact that in this clip he looks like a drunk frat boy delivering a bad toast at his buddy’s wedding (“Can I tell you how much I love this guy? Let me tell you how much I love this guy!”).
Note that I said “internet/cable TV axis” above, because the two media have developed a symbiotic relationship in recent years. Videos may start on the internet and get passed around via email, Twitter and Facebook, but once cable news picks them up and shows them again and again, they suddenly reach a much broader audience. Those viewers, in turn, go online to search for the video and share it with their friends, creating a ripple-upon-ripple-upon-ripple effect.
The upshot, in Perry’s case, is likely yet another nail in his proverbial political coffin — coming after a series of shaky debate performances and some Birther gibberish, this video will help solidify the idea that he’s simply not to be taken seriously (plus there’s the fact that he might be a little delusional all around if he thinks that this is what The Political Establishment wants in a stump speaker). Next up, Herman Cain and sexual harassment. Wait until the accusers go on TV! And YouTube, and Twitter, and….
The future is clear. Soon, the only candidates who’ll be able to run for office are our friends and future masters: the robots, who’ll have no skeletons in their metallic closets.