Begging For Nixonland

Texas Governor Rick Perry doesn't have a particularly long list of contrasts between him and the last Texas governor to become president:

"I am Rick Perry and he is George Bush," Perry declared as he marched through the Iowa State Fair, surrounded by reporters. "And our records are quite different."

Asked what the biggest difference is, Perry responded: "I went to Texas A&M. He went to Yale."

Getting into Yale is much easier when you're a legacy applicant, but it won't be hard for Perry to aim this kind of attack at Harvard and Columbia alumnus Barack Obama. Except in the latter circumstance, it'll come along with the implied subtext that the president is an affirmative action baby who only got in because he's black. He won't have to imply that himself either--his base, properly primed over the course of the last four years, will do it for him.

Meanwhile, Rich Lowry begs for anticipates signs of liberal elitism, predicting Perry will be "an object of derision for self-appointed cultural sophisticates everywhere."  Liberals won't dislike Perry because of his hostility to the welfare state, it's because he wears cowboy boots or something. 

You could be mistaken for thinking that Perry set out from his infancy to trample on certain eastern sensibilities. Born in nowheresville Texas to a family of cotton farmers. An Eagle Scout. Attendance at Texas A&M, where he was a “yell leader” — basically a male cheerleader — and in ROTC. After earning a degree in animal science and serving in the Air Force, he entered politics and eventually ascended to the governorship in the wake of another hated Texan — George W. Bush.

Perry makes Bush look like a sniveling elitist, what with his patrician, highly credentialed family. Perry went to Paint Creek Rural School in Haskell, Texas; Bush went to Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and then on to Yale and Harvard.

Bush was a sniveling elitist from a patrician, highly credentialed family. It's just that when he was running for president, Republicans were eager to portray him as a salt-of-the-earth cowboy who would have spent a quiet life clearing brush at his Crawford Ranch if not for his deep, abiding love of country. 

As for Perry, it's not so much that Lowry is irritated by the thought of people condescending to Perry's background as much as he really wants it to happen. Since Richard Nixon, the GOP playbook has been reliant on deploying cultural markers as a way to foster class resentment and blunt the appeal of social insurance and taxes on the wealthy. Lowry is practically salivating at the possibility of being able to do so in the event of a Perry nomination. As for Perry himself, well he's already playing the aggrieved Orthogonian, casting Mitt Romney as an elitist Franklin:

“I was in the private sector for thirteen years after I left the Air Force,” he said. “You know, I wasn’t on Wall Street, I wasn’t working at Bain Capital, but the principles of the free market — they work whether you’re in a farm field in Iowa or whether you’re on Wall Street.”

Romney of course, was a former executive at Bain. You needn't actually "condescend" to Perry to be cast as an out-of-touch elitist, in fact you don't even have to be a liberal. Let's all pretend though, that faux conservative disdain for coastal elites from the pipe-clutching bow-tie set at National Review isn't its own form of hypocritical cultural condescension.

Lowry writes that because of his background, no matter what Perry does he will "still be hated." Well that's the plan isn't it? Even if in the real world, the librul media can't stop salivating over him. 

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