01/04/2012 07:46 am ET Updated Mar 05, 2012

Rick Perry: The Man Who Never Was

Rick Perry has always been just smart enough to know what he can do and what is a waste of his time. When he was asked to sponsor bills during his days in the legislature, he told proponents not to bother leaving him analysis or draft copies because he would never read them.

"Just tell me what it does," he said.

When he won his first statewide office as Texas Agriculture Commissioner, he did it by changing parties and having Karl Rove run his campaign. Perry, in fact, later acknowledged, "Karl did everything." Unfortunately, more than a decade after he left that office, Texas is still dealing with bad debts from an agriculture loan program backed by Perry.

He was not Lieutenant Governor long enough to make major stumbles because George W. Bush left for the White House and Perry moved into the governor's mansion. If he'd had even the slightest amount of self-awareness, Rick Perry would have looked around that grand old structure and pinched himself while wondering how in the hell it all happened.

Rick Perry has never had a true sense of who he is until he conceded here in Iowa. What he knows, and what most of America has also learned, is that he may be the least intelligent governor in the country. Just like he had never paid attention to those bills he was asked to sponsor as a legislator back in the 80s, Rick Perry ignored issues relevant to winning the presidency. He was always too busy helping his lobbyist friends and corporations seeking taxpayer handouts to bother learning the number of Supreme Court justices or even their names.

He was a gaffe machine in cowboy boots powered by oil money and rich Texans who drooled over the idea that Perry would open Washington's doors to all of their big dollar dreams. And Perry, on paper, which is where he should have stayed, was the best candidate for the GOP. He had been a governor of Texas for more than a decade and had the political positions that evangelicals and the Tea Party lusted over. Perry would have done better in this campaign if he had never spoken a word and simply walked around and waved his arm at the crowds.

But then he went and talked.

Sort of. His "oops" moment will be taught in political science books for generations to come. And young collegians will wonder how a man so stupid could ever think that he might become president. Hell, even Ronald Reagan learned his lines. But Perry couldn't be bothered. He'd never had to debate much to get where he was and it's clear he didn't read or think on complex issues. He just decided to run for the office and raise money.

He might say he is "reassessing" but he is done. The worst governor in the history of Texas may have set a new standard for the worst presidential candidate. Money and profile and reputation are not sufficient in the race to the White House. Perry has embarrassed himself and his state and is likely oblivious to the scope of his failure. A friend and long time associate of Perry's said the governor had always been very good at just trying things to see how they unrolled. If he failed, he simply shrugged and moved on. He has failed and failed miserably and a simple shrug will hardly do for a response. How does he explain the $17 million plus that he wasted, including about $4 million on TV ads in Iowa? One analysis indicates he spent $500 per vote. He has done worse than Texas Governor John Connally did here in 1980 and worse the Texas U.S. Senator Phil Gramm in '96. Rick Santorum did better with $500,000.

His endorsement may end up being sought by Romney or Gingrich or Santorum because Texas will be essential to any Republican presidential plans for Washington. But who wants the dumb guy's support? Rick Perry can reassess all he wants, but his campaign, which was mangled as poorly as his syntax, is finished.

And if he doesn't know that, he is even stupider than he appeared during the debates.

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