Hey, did you hear about the Republican governor running for president in 2016 who just hired two of the GOP consultants conservatives loathe the most?
I bet you thought I was referring to “Republican in Name Only” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. If only I were.
Sadly, and mystifyingly, I’m talking about Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Yes, the man of the hour Rick Perry. The man conservatives nationwide have rallied behind the past month because of the border crisis our lawless president dropped in his lap. Not to mention that ham-fisted indictment, which is so blatantly partisan even notorious Obamaista David Axelrod is taking his side.
Recall the very likable Mr. Perry previously ran for president in 2012. A feeble effort he and those close to him would probably like to forget. About the only thing that campaign accomplished was proving once and for all you shouldn’t run for president when you’re doped up on serious pain medications following back surgery.
However, a new Mr. Perry emerged this year. Gone was the uncomfortable, likely medicinally-driven quirkiness that made him a hit with the late-night comedy writers for all the wrong reasons. That was replaced with a more serious Mr. Perry, complete with hipster glasses and a record of guiding liberty’s largest port in the President Obama storm to a one-state economic success story.
Conservatives got a long look at Perry 2.0, and many of us decided we liked it. Finally we were seeing the Jock (not J.R.) Ewing, go-big-or-go-home alpha male we’ve been waiting for from the state known as conservative Valhalla.
So of course, being that he’s a Republican politician and all, Mr. Perry had to go and ruin it just as we were beginning to buy in. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
One of the most respected thinkers in the conservative movement is Morton Blackwell at the Leadership Institute. One of his tried-and-truisms is “personnel is policy.” If Mr. Blackwell is right, then what Mr. Perry has done here is very wrong.
According to numerous reports, two of Perry 2016’s initial hires are Henry Barbour and Steven Schmidt. These two gentlemen currently rank in the top two of just about every grassroots conservative’s excrement list.
Mr. Barbour is one of the ring leaders of the infamous race-baiting U.S. Senate primary in Mississippi. An election conservatives around the country believe was stolen from them with despicable Obama/Alinsky type of tactics. The cut-throat “methods” Mr. Barbour and his machine used to get Thad Cochran through a contentious run-off were considered so heinous, a who’s who of conservative leaders sent an open letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus urging him to investigate. These leaders also asked for Mr. Priebus to censure Mr. Barbour for his “role in racially incendiary appeals to Democrat voters that voting for Thad Cochran was a means of helping stop the Tea Party.”
Then there’s Mr. Schmidt, who is the ruling class’ favorite kind of Republican. Which is to say he’s really not much of a Republican at all.
Schmidt was the mastermind of John “don’t use Obama’s middle name or you’re a racist” McCain’s failed 2008 presidential campaign, which is one of the main reasons the country has been suffering under Mr. Obama’s Marxist leadership ever since. In typical ruling class fashion, Mr. Schmidt attempted to rewrite the history of that disaster — including his decision to suspend the campaign to go all-in for the still-hated TARP bailout — by blaming the whole thing on conservatives afterwards (namely Sarah Palin).
Last year, Mr. Schmidt was given a $10 million war-chest by the ACLU in an effort to recruit Republicans to join in the effort to “strike down” state marriage laws passed in a majority of the U.S. That means Mr. Perry, who began his 2012 presidential campaign with a national call to repentance (from sin) and the backing of several Christian conservative leaders, is now taking counsel from a guy that wants to celebrate what Christians believe to be immoral.
But wait, there’s more.
Mr. Schmidt on fellow Texas Sen. Ted Cruz: “A lot of Republicans wish Ted Cruz would go back to Canada. We’re following (Cruz) down a policy path that will ultimately lead to the destruction of the Republican Party’s ability to compete as a national party.” Because obviously a guy that ran a presidential campaign that got beat by almost 200 electoral college votes knows all about what it takes to “compete as a national party.”How about when Schmidt said that Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump needed to be “shut down” for actually wanting the alleged party of conservatives to be — gasp! — conservative?Then there’s Schmidt urging the GOP to “dump” Tea Party “kooks.” Last, but certainly not least, remember when Schmidt said the GOP needs to “take conservatism’s good name back” from the Cruz/Tea Party “freak show.” Because if there’s anyone in America attuned to what it means to be a conservative, it’s the guy that ran McCain’s campaign into the ground.
The book of Proverbs warns us that “bad company corrupts good character.” Or as we used to say in my neighborhood back in the day, “You are who you roll with.”
If this is who Mr. Perry is planning on rolling with in 2016, he’s going to get rolled. Maybe even worse than he did in 2012, because he’s not even the most popular GOP presidential candidate from his own state. Only 23 percent of Texas Republicans believe Mr. Perry should run for president, and only 10 percent make him their top choice. Surrounding yourself with the likes of Mr. Barbour and Mr. Schmidt isn’t likely to help him improve those numbers. But don’t just take my word for it. Richard Viguerie, one of the founding fathers of the conservative movement, recently said that “Governor Perry’s friends are the enemies of conservatives.”
Yikes. That’s going to leave a mark.
Mr. Perry has experienced a renaissance as of late because he’s been seen as bold and conservative. Unfortunately, with the hand-picking of establishmentarians Mr. Barbour and Mr. Schmidt for his inner circle, it’s obvious Perry didn’t get that message.
Unless he repudiates these two cancers, it’s quite likely 2016 GOP primary voters will send Mr. Perry an even louder message he couldn’t possibly ignore.
(Steve Deace is a nationally-syndicated talk show host and the author of “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” You can like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.)