Here's Rick Perry's new ad in Iowa. Watch, and then we'll discuss:
The first thing you notice is that he's wearing a dress shirt, but no jacket or tie. I think this is the first time I've seen him dressed this way. There's also something odd about the lighting and makeup—I can't quite put my finger on what it is that's producing the effect, but the best way to describe it is that he looks like a person who normally wears glasses but has taken them off. There is something kind of dark about Perry's looks —Joshua Green described him perfectly as having "the dark, slightly exaggerated good looks of the villain in a daytime soap opera"—and this washed-out look may be an effort to mitigate that. But he's also displaying a kind of happy-go-lucky affect that is at odds with most of what we've seen of him so far. Even when Rick Perry is smiling, there's usually something kind of sinister underneath. But everything in this ad is bright—the background, the music, and Perry himself.
Finally, his campaign is trying to counter the effects of his awful performances in the televised debates by having him say "I'm a doer, not a talker," and this could well be a repeated theme of the coming weeks and months. The only problem is that the guy has been in public office continuously for the last 27 years. It's awfully hard for him to pull off the "I'm no slick politician" shtick. And I can think of another Texas governor who wasn't too good at talking. But that's probably not what Perry wants to remind people of.