For Rick Perry, It's Not the Heat, It's the Stupidity

The newest meteor to streak through the Republican primary skies is, of course, Texas Governor Rick Perry. But for Perry, it could be a pretty fast fall back to Earth. Fully feeling the heat of the national media spotlight for the first time, Perry has quickly shown his supporters that the thing that they should worry about most is not the heat — but his stupidity.

Even many of his fellow Republicans denounced his statements about Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s quantitative-easing possibly being an act of “treason.” Among others, Bruce Bartlett, a former Treasury Secretary under Republican President George H. W. Bush, called Perry an “idiot.”

An 11-year-old boy who appeared to actually know the answer asked Perry about the age of the Earth. Perry said he didn’t know. I believe him. Perry then seemed to disavow evolution and give some credence to the theory that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Come on, I have ties older than that. And Mr. Perry had the bad timing to do this the same week that scientists announced that they believe they discovered fossilized, single-cell organisms in Western Australia that could be about 3.4 billion years old.

Perry’s disavowal of evolution, geology, biology, and all that pointed-headed science mumbo-jumbo will probably not sit very well with GOP moderates, independents, swing voters or those who have ever been to school, read a book, or watched a show on the History Channel.

Perry also had the singular misfortune to be ranting about how climate change is a scam the same week as stories were published about how farmers in Texas have suffered more than $5 billion in crop and livestock losses associated with a record drought and record high temperatures.

Perry’s claim that there is no scientific consensus on climate change has repeatedly found to be totally false by non-partisan fact checkers and researchers with the National Academy of Sciences. They are people who believe that the best way to establish what the truth is about something like consensus is to count real things that exist in the real world. Such as the number of scientists working in the field of climate research who support the theory of anthropogenic climate change (between 97-98 percent) versus the number who don’t (2 percent), the number of scientific papers on climate research written by both sides (supporters of climate change have per capita, published far more on the subject of climate research), the number of citations of those papers (far more for the climate change side) and the academic degrees and research-based qualifications of those who support climate change versus the same for those who do not (the ayes have it). It turns out that, in the real world, there is a scientific consensus. And it’s not even close.

And given his Mr. Perry’s views on economic policy, it was not a big surprise to many when his college transcript somehow appeared online, there were a lot of C’s and D’s, including a D in Principles of Economics.

Beyond question, being willfully ignorant about science or lacking the ability to tell the difference between what is real and what is not does not amount to a handicap when it comes to some jobs. Radio talk show hosting comes to mind, where it seems to confer a distinct advantage.

But the job of being President of the United States is not such a job. Presidents have to make critical life and death decisions of great moment, and such decisions should be based on what is real and what is true. However far-right, faith-filled and fearless Mr. Perry may be, he is clearly not qualified for the job. And that’s the plain and simple truth.