Late Returns: For Perry, There's An Upside In Going Birther

10/26/2011 06:08 pm ET | Updated Dec 26, 2011

At first blush, Rick Perry's brief foray into birtherism sure looked to be another unforced error from a hapless candidate who's gone from frontrunner to drain-circler in what would be an impressively brief period of time, had it not been for the fact that Perry's entrance into the race collapsed Michele Bachmann's support even faster. The fact that Perry's gone through an episodic process of backtrack-reaffirm-backtrack again only underscores the notion that the Texas governor remains mired in incompetence. But Jonathan Bernstein cautions that going birther offers Perry some upside, in that all of a sudden, people are pointing teevee cameras at him again:

...Perry’s big task over the next few weeks has been to convince reporters — and any Republican actors who don’t realize it — that he’s Not Dead Yet. Mostly, that means publicity. Thus a wild “flat” tax plan. But we all know that policy isn’t enough to get either Republican voters or the press interested. A good fight helps (and Perry tried to supply that by attacking Romney in the last debate), but freak show stuff trumps, as it were, everything. So a few days of birther questions returned the focus to the Texas governor ... just as he was ready to take advantage of the attention by rolling out his tax plan.

Bernstein concludes: "If the cost of that publicity is taking a pounding from liberals over the birther issue — something Republican primary voters won’t care about — that’s well worth it for him." Let's recall that one of the things Perry said to excuse the birther comments was "It’s fun to poke at [Obama] a little bit." In all likelihood, that's a position that everyone in the GOP primary voter base endorses, whether they are true birther believers or not.

[The Plum Line]


Dave Weigel has a hunch that the media is making too big a deal about Ohio's 9th District congressional race. [Weigel @ Slate]

Glenn Hubbard thinks that President Obama's proposed overhaul of the Home Affordable Refinancing Program "looks like a good plan" and he's "glad they're doing it." One problem: Hubbard is currently "leading the Economic Policy Team for the campaign of 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. [ThinkProgress]

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It's hard to argue with David Frum on this score. [David Frum Twitter]

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