The video: Texas Gov. Rick Perry ignited the first potential controversy of his fledgling presidential campaign Monday night with some violent words for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. "If this guy prints more money between now and the election," he said while campaigning in Iowa, "I dunno what y'all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas." He followed up the "shocking" statement by saying that Bernanke would be committing a "treasonous" act if he approved another round of quantitative easing — in which the Federal Reserve creates electronic money to buy up corporate and government debt and keep borrowing costs down. (Watch the video below.) Treason is a punishable by death.
The reaction: "This guy may be good for Texas," says Taylor Marsh at her blog, "but he'd be a disaster for America." Calling Bernanke treasonous for doing something that is the very essence of his job is "political knuckle-dragging" at its scariest. Perry didn't do his campaign any favors with this unpresidential threat, says James Fallows at The Atlantic, but any politician is "destined to make mistakes" when moving from state politics to the intense scrutiny of a national race. Actually, this "hysteria is ridiculous," says Erick Erickson at Red State. Perry's language is no worse than anything scores of politicians have used to criticize Wall Street executives and blast their political opposition. Judge for yourself: