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Rick Perry and The Death Throes of Hyper-Conservative Rhetoric

Rick Perry, with all due respect, does not seem to be a bright man. He is perhaps most famous nationally for forgetting the third agency he wanted to cut during one of the countless Republican debates during the 2012 election. Yet, he is still the sitting governor of Texas – the second-largest state in terms of population and economy – and the longest one to ever hold the position, although his term is coming to an end this year. Perhaps, his preferred style of thinking is on its way out as well.

Perry is not the type of guy who’s going to shy away from public life after he leaves Austin. Yet, his Texas-style conservative bona fides were not enough to get him a single primary win. During his campaign, he spoke out against same-sex marriage and tried to win the faith vote. That also failed.

Thus it is not surprising that when asked at an event in San Francisco about “reparative therapy” being adopted into the Texas GOP platform, Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism. “I may have the genetic coding to be an alcoholic,” Perry said by way of example, “but I have the desire to not do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

Since then he was taken to task for those comments in appearances on CNN’s Crossfire and CNBC’s Squawk Box, fumbling through his lame defenses. CNN’s Stephanie Cutter asked him to clarify if he thinks homosexuality is a disease and Perry parried by trying to shift the conversation to one of jobs.

However, conservative CNBC host John Berman told Perry that he has “a high bar for what [he] would take offense to, but that would exceed the bar for me….” Berman was able to keep Perry focused on the topic, shooting down his implication that the medical community is torn on reparative therapy (it’s not). Berman came the closest to getting Perry to clarify his comments when Perry said, “I don’t condone that lifestyle, but I don’t condemn it either.”

Perry is very likely to make another run at national office and his unwillingness to speak out against homosexuality now, shows that savvy Republicans realize that the social issues of the past – gay rights, racial equality, women’s rights, et al. – are anchors around their neck rather than an asset.

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.