Jonathan Chait

A Portrait Of Rick Perry's Mind At Work

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Here is Rick Perry, as governor, being presented with the contrast between Texas's abstinence-only sex education program which he supports, and the state's very high teen pregnancy rate. watch him grapple with the question:

Perry appears completely unable not only to answer the question but even to think in empirical terms.

This speaks a bit to the point I made earlier about conservative identity politics. Liberals frequently believe that Republican leaders -- George W. Bush, Sarah Palin -- lack analytical intelligence. Conservatives reply that this is merely liberal snobbery against plain-spoken folks from the heartland. I'd reply that conservatives seem to gravitate toward anti-intellectual figures.

Perry is sort of a case in point. If Republicans were to nominate Mitt Romney, liberals won't be calling him dumb. That's because Romney is obviously very smart. But Perry's anti-intellectualism is much better suited to capture the party id.

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