If Perry Can’t Debate, How Can He Govern?

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 27 2011 @ 12:13pm

Rick Perry is thinking about sitting out some of the debates. Ed Morrissey is perplexed:

Perry needs some serious face time to re-energize his campaign, and he’s not going to get that by pulling a Jon Huntsman and staying off the stage.  If he wants to make a point about protesting the number of debates that have been scheduled, that might be worth protesting — except that he’s attended fewer debates than almost everyone else on stage at this point, and his campaign isn’t making that case, at least not at the moment.

But when you can bypass any forum like this and sell yourself directly in carefully controlled ads and speeches, that's a pretty big temptation. Remember you-know-who? Friedersdorf thinks this shows that Perry isn't fit to be president:

This announcement is an admission that the Texas governor doesn't even expect he can improve over time.

Of course, it isn't actually essential that a president be a good debater, but it is essential that he has a deep grasp of numerous issues, is a quick study, and can use the bully pulpit to good effect. As it happens, these are the very things at which Perry is failing miserably. Would you send him to meet with world leaders? To address the press corps of foreign nations on trips? To quickly understand the issues at play in a complex and unexpected crisis? To do Town Hall meetings where he persuades the American people to rally behind his policy initiatives? The guy isn't even quick enough on his feet to get off a one liner about Mitt Romney's tendency to flip flop. How would he handle a matter for which he wasn't prepared?

Kevin Drum pokes fun:

Perry's not hiding from anything. He's just choosing to stay off national TV because it makes his dimness a little too painfully obvious to voters who are trying to choose a leader of the free world. Better to focus instead on what he's best at: attack ads and laughably flimsy policy proposals.