The Perry Brain Freeze

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I am not a fan of Rick Perry, but it strikes me that there is something fundamentally unserious about the way Rick Perry's mental lock during the last debate has been covered.  All most all of the coverage has focused on whether his campaign can recover after forgetting that he has proposed abolishing the Department of Energy.  It is as if debate performance were the sole qualification of the presidency.  Does anyone really think that if he were elected he would not eliminate the department because he forgot to?

The main issue of course is whether eliminating the Department of Energy (as well as the Education and Commerce departments) is good policy or not.  How much money would it save?  How well would any of the critical functions be performed in other departments?  Etc?  But journalists seem to ne dispositionally and perhaps intellectually incapable of focusing on such things.  It much easier and more fun to repeatedly show clips of a candidate saying "oops."

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It is of a piece with the horse-race style of coverage, I'm afraid, which encourages voters to think in cosmetic terms rather than substantial ones. I suppose there really are good reasons to worry about this sort of thing for electability, but as far as the media is concerned style comes first. Unfortunately, there is plenty of blame to go around to the candidates themselves (including Perry) as well as the Republican primary electorate, who doesn't seem to be demanding something different.

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