"I, Rick Perry, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and I further will avoid physical proximity to racially charged names susceptible of scandalizing the media on pain of public disembowelment."
Would that speech do the job, should Gov. Perry against lengthening odds, become President Perry? Not a chance. The trivialization of American politics proceeds apace, with the enthusiastic collaboration of the media -- my own profession, one way or another, for nearly half a century.
With 9.1 percent unemployment weighing down the economy, The Washington Post started the "racially charged name" story that The New York Times elaborated on thus: "at least seven people ... said the name for a portion" of a hunting trip that Perry took guests on at a West Texas hunting camp that bore the racist name "at different points in the 1980s and 1990s." The Name That Must Not Be Spoken.
My knees grow weak. The '80s! A hunting camp! My governor! And a bad word. Not such a word as you hear regularly on "Grey's Anatomy" and "Master Chef." Words describing bodily parts and functions -- that's fine. Why, &$&$&!!, it's downright cool! I say so because I never heard the Post and the Times animadverting on the degenerative effects of R-, not to mention, X- rated language.
Butter, we all know, wouldn't melt in the mouths of our cultural saviors in the media as they advertise, front page, Perry's exposure to words, which he may or may not have reacted to at a hunting camp. Concerning that, in any case, he never raised a ruckus. To the impeachment of ... search me. It's hard to figure the Eastern seaboard media, save as experts in the art of political ambuscade.
The Eastern media were bound to dislike Perry, with his boots, accent and political record. And, it must be confessed, that my governor hasn't always been artful in presentation of his viewpoints. Using the word "heartless," in the context of opposing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, was plumb awful, as well as wrong on its face. Then there was "treasonous," applied to Ben Bernanke. Nonetheless, the idea of a media foofaraw over a name painted here and there at a hunting camp patronized by a presidential candidate -- it insults our intelligence.
This trashy non-story, at a time of economic anguish, matters to the media chiefly, I think, because my profession, generally hostile to conservatives, truly despises populist conservatives from the South. This is true even in Texas, whose newspapers, staffed largely with liberals, miss hardly a chance to throw a roundhouse punch Perry's direction (by way of enriching public discourse, you understand).
Racial conflict, real or fancied, plays a central role in grabbing media attention. To the East Coast media, most Southerners are latent racists. If they like Perry, he may well be one, too. (Follow the logic?) It becomes necessary to find out then if he is. Sniffing around usually produces the intended result. A hunting camp sign reading "Niggerhead"? Honey to bees, is what that is.
Barack Obama, to be sure, had his own brush with news stories concerning ties more intimate, and more deeply regrettable, than any evidenced by Perry at a hunting camp. Obama's pastor really did preach left-wing claptrap, some of it racist. Obama, in full hopey-changey mode, received the media's implicit blessing to throw the Rev. Jeremiah Wright off the railroad trestle -- without further inquiry as to why he hadn't previously discovered Wright's philosophical orientation. Hadn't he been listening, without obvious objection, to this stuff all along? Never mind: We were on a new course.
Come to think of it, that's the big objection to Perry, not to mention the other horses in the GOP presidential stable. They are bent, if not with perfect unanimity, on defining a new course for the country. I wouldn't suggest the media have decided Perry and the rest have to be stopped. If not, though -- I say this sadly -- you can't always tell.