David Brooks' column today appears dedicated to the proposition that other people should start criticizing Rick Perry:
He does very well with the alternative-reality right — those who don’t believe in global warming, evolution or that Obama was born in the U.S.
So, yes, it is time to take Perry seriously as a Republican nominee and even as a potential president. ...
It’s more likely that sooner or later Romney is going to have to prove his own toughness by taking Perry on directly. Two lines of attack are pretty obvious.
First, Romney could accuse Perry of being the latest iteration of Tom DeLay Republicanism. On the one hand, he is ideologically slippery. The man who sounds so right wing today was the Texas chairman of the Al Gore for President campaign in 1988. The man who now vows to appoint only anti-abortion officials to relevant administration jobs endorsed Rudy Giuliani four short years ago. On the other hand, he is unwavering in his commitment to the government-cash nexus. Even this week — amid much attention to his pay-to-play proclivities — Perry named two big donors to powerful state jobs.
The second line of attack is to shift what the campaign is about. If voters think Nancy Pelosi is the biggest threat to their children’s prosperity, they will hire Perry. If they think competition from Chinese and Indian workers is the biggest threat, they will hire Romney. He’s just more credible as someone who can manage economic problems, build human capital and nurture an innovation-based global economy.
Romney might be able to beat back the Perry surge. In the meantime, it’s time to take Perry seriously. He could be our next president.
Yes, it's really time for somebody to start persuading moderate or mainstream Republicans that Rick Perry is dangerously unsuited to the presidency. If only Brooks knew of anybody who would be good at making a case like that.
Sure, Romney, might be that guy, though attacking Perry might not fit with Romney's strategy of making himself acceptable to a far more right-wing primary electorate than the one that considered him too squishy four years ago.
Wait. Maybe this is a job for conservatives who don't have to put themselves before the voters. Like perhaps some kind of public intellectual. If only there was some kind of moderate conservative columnist, perhaps with a national reach at a newspaper like the New York Times.
Hey -- I've got it. Brooks surely knows Ross Douthat. Maybe he can ask him to write that column!