At Wednesday's critical GOP presidential debate, Rick Perry suffered one of the most "devastating" embarrassments in modern campaign history. After pledging to scrap three federal departments, Perry managed to name only two, blanking miserably on the third: "Let's see. I can't. The third one. I can't. Sorry. Oops." After that potentially fatal memory failure (see clip here), the Texas governor's presidential campaign quickly shifted into damage control, booking Perry on a slew of morning talk shows, including Today, Fox and Friends, and Laura Ingraham's radio show. "I'm a human being," Perry told The Early Show. "I had a lapse of memory." Perry will also appear on The Late Show with David Letterman to read Thursday night's Top Ten list. And his website posted a poll asking visitors which parts of the federal government they'd like to forget. Could this strategy possibly save his campaign?
This just might work: That epic "brain freeze" gives Perry a rare opportunity, says Maggie Haberman at Politico. Making the media rounds to do damage control requires the normally swaggering Texan to muster "a trait he has not been prone to in his political career — humility." If Perry can pull it off, "it's his best hope on turning the page" after Wednesday's disaster.
"Rick Perry on debate brain freeze: It felt like '54 hours' on stage"
Perry is crazy if he thinks this will work: The governor may get a fleeting boost of support as he "self-deprecatingly addresses last night's brain implosion," says Jonah Goldberg at National Review. But he's delusional if he thinks he can turn this to his lasting advantage. Perry's gaffe was particularly egregious because it punctuated a "deadly" pattern of incoherence and lack of intellectual rigor — proving to uncertain voters once and for all that he's unfit for the presidency.
"The perilous Perry pattern"
The damage has already been done: Perry can try all he might to "ride out his 'oops' moment," says Michael D. Shear at The New York Times, but his campaign was "dealt a serious blow" that can't be erased. The YouTube clip of the cringe-worthy gaffe will be played and replayed (and replayed), each time reminding voters "that he is not capable of going toe to toe with his rivals," let alone Obama. He needed to forcefully prove himself a real challenger to Mitt Romney. A folksy appearance on Letterman won't compensate for his failure to do that.
"Perry tries to recover from his 'oops' moment"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
- 8 secrets to steal from power networkers
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
- Game of Thrones is making a huge mistake by cutting Lady Stoneheart
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- How to make classic pulled pork
- Why GOP reformers are bound to fail
Subscribe to the Week