Huffington Post

Rick Perry's Epic Lying Could Make Him the Next President

(My latest for the Huffington Post.)

The scariest thing about Rick Perry isn't just that he's the likely Republican nominee, it's that he's displayed an unapologetic exuberance for telling supercolossal lies, most recently in the form of a pulse-pounding, face-melting, cinematic commercial. The efficacy of these kinds of lies could catapult him to the White House.

Most politicians equip their mendacity with convenient escape pods with which they can conveniently jettison their weaselly words by way of a few artful dodges. Not Rick Perry. His lie machine is a red, white and blue phallic rocket ship fueled by post-apocalyptic imagery and a musical score that Michael Bay would reject for being too over-the-top.

Perry's latest commercial, titled "Proven Leadership" is a perfect example of what Perry is capable of. And it's something the Democrats and the president's reelection campaign staff ought to take very seriously.

The story begins with hyperspeed edits of the aforementioned post-apocalyptic hellscape, each one reminiscent of I Am Legend or the nuclear bomb sequence from Terminator 2. Empty streets, empty houses, empty playground swings swaying as though the children formerly in them were, seconds earlier, vaporized by President Obama's army of Internal Revenue Gaydroids.

The audio, and especially the music, is a fantastic way to test the dynamic range of your home theater subwoofer, and it builds to such a crescendo that it makes the old THX "Digitally Enhanced" movie bumper sound like the Mr. Roger's Neighborhood theme.

There's even an air-raid siren in there. An air-raid siren! Even if it were true that President Obama ruined the economy all by himself (it's not even close to true), there's nothing in the history of the last three years indicating that we're in danger of an aerial attack. At least not in our commonly known dimension -- the epistemically closed fantasyland playing out in the twisted imaginations of tea party Republicans is another story.

Throughout this Armageddon sequence, we hear the voice of President Obama describing how the economy has improved since he took office, which is true. Contradicting the president's words are the voices of, I assume, various Fox News anchors telling us that the president has created "zero jobs." More about this lie presently.

Another air-raid siren leads up to a full stop cut-to-black transition and the triumphant entrance of Rick Perry who angelically materializes with majestic, patriotic B-roll that includes fighter jets soaring in formation, Perry riding in a helicopter, archival Perry in a flight suit and aviator glasses, cheering throngs of supporters, spotwelding sparks, the Iwo Jima memorial, churches, farmers, a gazillion American flags and, inexplicably, several horses running on a beach (appropriately, they're running to the right). This second half of the video is clearly designed to make Sean Hannity's entire audience have a simultaneous orgasm.

And, you know, I'm seriously understating the ridiculousness of the thing.

This is how Rick Perry delivers a lie. With thunderous gusto.

The video tells us in no uncertain terms and with steroid-pumped jingoism that the president created "zero jobs." This is the big lie being delivered by this garish extravaganza and it's repeated throughout the first half of the video. Perry also spoke this lie to everyone watching the most recent CNN debate.

Rick Perry on CNN last week: "[President Obama] had $800 billion worth of stimulus in the first round of stimulus. It created zero jobs, $400-plus billion dollars in this package. And I can do the math on that one. Half of zero jobs is going to be zero jobs."

The nonpartisan website Politifact gave Rick Perry a "Pants on Fire" rating for this one -- as in, liar, liar, pants on fire. Not even remotely true. Rick Perry made this up. It's fiction. The entire premise of his latest video, with all of its amplified puffery, is a fabrication. Not like it really matters to Republican voters who exist inside an ideological bubble the size of Mark Levin's adenoids, but here's the truth from Politifact. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA, also known as "the stimulus") saved or created 1.3 million to 3.6 million jobs. IHS/Global Insight reported 2.45 million jobs were saved or created. The Macroeconomic Advisers reported 2.3 million jobs were saved or created. And Moody's Economy reported 2.5 million jobs were saved or created.

Even if only one job was "created" and the rest were simply "saved," that's still not "zero jobs," as Rick Perry claimed.

Politifact also wrote that during the second quarter of this year alone the ARRA created "555,029 full-time equivalent jobs."

Let's recap. Where were we when President Obama took office? The economy was hemorrhaging up to 820,000 jobs a month during the deepest recession since the Great Depression -- and we've learned recently that the economy was even worse than was observed at the time. This was before the president took office in late January, 2009. Before the president was inaugurated, the economy lost 3.1 million jobs during the recession under President Bush, and another 2 million jobs in the first three months of the Obama administration before any of the president's economic policies were in place.

I don't care who you are or what party you represent but no one on this planet is capable of restoring that many jobs in this economy within three years. Impossible. Especially considering that corporations have discovered during the recession that profits are higher if they pay fewer people to do more work, or if they simply ship the jobs overseas. That's one reason why corporate profits are skyrocketing even though unemployment remains high. Workers, especially those with mortgages on the brink, are terrified of losing their jobs, so they're agreeing to do more work for less pay and reduced, if not eliminated, benefits. No amount of tax cuts for corporations or the super rich will roll back this corporate strategy. It works.

Nevertheless, upon the signing of the ARRA, every economic indicator shows that the economy turned around almost instantly. In January of 2009, the economy lost 820,000 jobs. By June, that number was cut in half. In November on 2009, the economy was creating 50,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the Dow rose from 6,000 at the beginning of 2009 to over 10,000 by the end of the year. First quarter GDP rose from -6.4 percent to +5.7 percent by the fourth quarter.

The only problem with the ARRA was that it simply wasn't large enough to match the utter magnitude of the catastrophe. In subsequent months, the recovery leveled off, and the Republican efforts to sabotage the economy by stonewalling support for anything that could turboboost the recovery have been shockingly successful.

Despite congressional Republican obstruction and the need for more stimulus, we're still in a recovery albeit a slow one (hence the need for the president's new American Jobs Act), and none of these factors alter the reality that the ARRA worked. It created or saved millions of jobs and rescued the economy from a decline into what could have been an insurmountable disaster, and no amount of anthemic bumper sticker marketeering can change this objective reality.

The Republican marketing machine is strikingly powerful. Rick Perry's new video is a fantastic example of the Republican capacity to obfuscate the truth and win supporters in spite of flagrantly lying to them. They're able to get away with whopper lies so massive, they're almost hilariously off the rails. Mitt Romney, for example, released a chart recently that blamed President Obama for the job losses that occurred in 2007 and 2008 -- before the president was even elected.

Their ability to shape their own reality -- to blame the president for the entire recession while simultaneously rigging the game against the recovery is unprecedented in American political history. It's evidence that the modern Republican Party has ceased to be driven by policy and ideas, and, instead, has become nothing more than a marketing and advertising firm selling candidates like packs of cigarettes. You'll look cool and it'll feel so good. They fish you in, get you hooked and you wind up voting against your own best interests while lamenting, "Why-oh-why does the nation have cancer? Must be the black guy." It's infomercial fiction pitched and sold using Fox News propaganda, AM talk radio fury, cinematic production values, easy-to-remember Frank Luntz zingers and all varieties of star-spangled cheerleading. They've been able to so effectively whitewash their guilt in this economic mess that the current Republican frontrunner is a top-down J.J. Abrams reboot of George W. Bush (who actually was the president when the economy collapsed).

And voters are buying it like pie.

The consequences include the results of the latest CNN poll showing that independent voters are supporting the Republicans -- lies and all -- by a margin of 53 to 28 over President Obama.

That's scary. So maybe the air-raid siren was appropriate after all.

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  • Michael Schwartz

    The Tenacious D THC intro, just cause its so fun.

  • muselet

    It’s up to all of us who recognize that objective reality exists to nag every low-information voter we know with the facts about the economy, President Obama’s first term and Rick Perry.

    This second half of the video is clearly designed to make Sean Hannity’s entire audience have a simultaneous orgasm.


    … [T]he current Republican frontrunner is a top-down J.J. Abrams reboot of George W. Bush …

    Expensive, overhyped, underwritten, makes no sense, lots of lens flare … yup, got it in one, Bob. (Yes, I am recycling my barbs. Why do you ask?)



  • Chachizel

    How could we expect anything less from the country that loves DWTS & Jersey Shore. Craziness. Before January of this year job growth was slow, but moving forward. Since the Rs took over the house, growth has slowed to a baby’s first crawl. Where are the jobs Speaker Boner?? Who are these “independe ­nts” anyway? How do they not see this insanity? Surely they’re the ones that give those big ratings to DWTS & Jersey Shore. If they really favor a generic Repub candidate, they must be. Pres. Obama & the Dems aren’t perfect, but…the alternativ ­e is VERY scary. Vote progressiv ­e 2012!!

  • TimEldred

    Here’s some solace: the polls swung drastically against Obama in 2008, in the wake of the Republican convention when the douchebags were high as a kite on the Palin bump. Turned out they were just driving drunk and the public took away the keys.

    There’s still almost a whole year for this thing to play out. All the current TV seasons, the next wave of summer blockbusters, an entire round of holidays and birthdays, a whole cycle of seasons will come and go before we vote. Plenty can happen in that time.

  • With any luck, all the noise and flashing lights in this piece of propaganda will do little more than induce seizures.

    • Robert Scalzi

  • Chris Andersen

    If you are going to lie, do it loudly!

    That’s the kind of character I want in a President.

  • fyllo87

    Perry’s ad looks as if it was created by Barney Stinson of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ fame!

  • Robert Scalzi

    If the Republicans succeed in this deception and win in Nov 2012 I will be left hoping that the Mayans were correct about 12/21/2012

    • GrafZeppelin127

      If the Republicans win in 2012, I’m thinking of joining a hate group. Any suggestions?

      • Robert Scalzi

        I have few in mind that don’t exist yet that we can start up…

      • gescove

        As Tina Fey said about the prospect of a McCain/Palin win in 2008… if Republicans win in 2012, I might have to leave Earth.

  • jimtowndem

    I’ve said it before and it is still true.

    Okay here is the way it is going to go in 2012.

    Perry will be elected to president.

    There will be a republican super majority in the house and senate.

    At this point the following will be shut down.
    education dept
    social security
    all banking regs
    the fed
    planned parenhood
    all unions
    minimum wage.
    student loans
    national parks sold to oil companies
    the fda (poison food – who cares?)
    the cdc

    They might ever try to outlaw all religions except christian evangelical but that might be reach even for them.

    There will be a new war with Iran and maybe in Yemen or somewhere else to feed more military contracts

    When people stop getting their checks and medical help you might see some blow back but the government has the guns so that won’t go far. Get used to it folks, you voted for it.

    • GrafZeppelin127

      Well, there is some saving grace in the fact that Republican­s don’t mean most of what they say. They get so much more mileage out of making people -think- they’re going to dismantle government­, outlaw abortion, persecute gay people, &c, than they could ever get by actually doing it. Never mind that they’ve never actually balanced a budget, cut spending, reduced the federal deficit or national debt, or produced any economic gains (let alone sustained, long-term gains) for anyone other than the top 1%.

      What worries me is that in order to win elections, given the absence of real domestic accomplish­ments, the GOP has had to change the American ethic from one of solidarity and compassion to one of selfishnes­s and cruelty, and do it in large part by propagatin­g fiction and getting people to vote against fictitious things. -That- will have long-term consequenc­es.

      • jimtowndem

        you are right about them not really doing what the say in the past but i believe that with perry (who is nuts) and his new tea party cohorts will try to change everything to their way. it will take a lot to open the eyes of most people who vote for them. when they stop getting ss checks and medical paid or when there are no more police or fire depts because of cutbacks in funding then they might wake up but don’t count on it.

        • GrafZeppelin127

          They’ll try, but the “trying” will be limited to the occasional TPer trying to prove (s)he isn’t a hypocrite by complaining and pretending to care about “big government” and “spending” and such during a Republican presidency. After all, they need these things to continue to exist so they can complain about them during the next Democratic administration.

      • mrbrink

        “Well, there is some saving grace in the fact that Republican­s don’t mean most of what they say.”

        This falls in line with, “what’s the worst that can happen?”

        They’ve presented 1000 anti-abortion bills throughout the country. Enacted numerous anti-voting laws. Stripped public sector unions. Cut education. Cut the elderly, women and children’s safety net to save subsidies for oil corporations. Bullied and harassed the unemployed. Opened up the floodgates for unaccounted corporate money in elections. Threatened to crash the economy like terrorists holding the country hostage until the patriotic hostile corporate takeover gets here.

        Do not doubt their ability to do what they say.

        “Gumming up the works” is doing what they say one election at a time.

        They may not get there today, but they’re beating down the gates with a deluded sense of righteous mandate.

        That’s a destructive formula.

        • GrafZeppelin127

          I don’t doubt their ability; I doubt their intention.

          You’re right about all that they’ve done to hurt people at the state level; all they’ve done at the federal level is make it easier for themselves to win elections and pursue the winning of elections for the sake of winning elections. And a lot of what they’re doing at the state level is to help themselves win elections at the federal level. Think of it this way; why didn’t Republican governors and state legislators do any of the things they’ve done in the last 25 months, which you point out, between 2001 and 2008?

          They understand that when people think of “government,” they think of the federal government. They understand that people pay far more attention to the President and Congress, and to Presidential elections/politics in particular, than they do to state and local officeholders, elections, laws, policies, etc. They understand that people are far more likely to take their misery and frustration out on the President than on any and all other elected officials combined.

          The GOP wants one thing and one thing only: the Presidency. Everything else they do, say, write, think and believe, in every context and at every level, follows from and is done in pursuit of that singular goal.

          • mrbrink

            I think it’s actually just bragging rights they seek in the presidency. These are shallow people who taunt the poor and the condemned, especially in victory and positions of authority. They wage economic war on women and children. They laughed about evicting Big Bird! These are people who instituted indiscriminate torture of captive human beings.

            While a good deal of our focus has been diverted to saving the country from the Bush presidency and getting a Democrat through the front door of the White House, the Republican party has been infiltrating precincts, townships, municipalities, and school boards like the mob moving pallets of aged Democracy and shaken bottles of confidence-in-government out the back.

            They’ve shown a new found sense of determination and divine purpose the past two years with an authoritarian’s mandate and pressures to continue to deliver to the crazies. They possess the biggest corporate battering ram this country has ever seen paving the way for their advance. There’s very little standing in their way. Not even a conscience anymore.

            The fact that we’re already talking about an arrogant Texas governor with a boot full of squinty-eyed bullshit taking the presidency next year is like being told rape has been legalized for conservatives only.

            They’re gonna get that ass good next time, Graf’.

  • trgahan

    He can lie like this because no one will call him on it on the national stage. He can lie because the coming election is not about policy, it is about “correcting” the results of the 2008 election and making sure “they” don’t ever achieve such an office again. He can lie because he doesn’t need to do anything else, the nomination is his. He has already said things that would have killed campiagns in the past..and his numbers surge. There is not reason for him to do anything but throw red meat at his base and he’s golden.

    • Here, here! The 4th Estate is pretty much toast. If we didn’t have bloggers, we’d be be screwed.

  • mrbrink


    It’s all there, Bob.

    This post is a weapon.

    • The problem with using it as that weapon is that the people we need to convince have already been brainwashed, and as long as the fascists whip out the American flags, their ability to think for themselves is damped down. Or something.

      • mrbrink

        The 2000 Presidential election came down to 537 votes.

        Bob’s post should be good for at least 1000.

        “Stay active.”

        • I hear ya, and I intend to do just that. 🙂

      • JWheels

        The far right won’t be convinced, but I think Independents can be swayed. We still have 14 months to go, that’s a lot of time for things to change and develop before the general election.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    [cross-posted from HuffPo, where mods have deemed this unacceptable.]

    I’m not sure this is unpreceden­ted. What Gov. Perry, et al. are doing is not so much lying as it is fiction. Americans have always, to one degree or another, voted based not on a fully-info­rmed, fully-cont­extualized understand­ing of reality, but on bite-sized nuggets of emotionall­y-satisfyi­ng fiction, taken at face-value and understood in a vacuum.

    The 2010 mid-term elections were based on fiction; mainly, fictitious “governmen­t spending” that bears little to no resemblanc­e to what, when, where, how and why the U.S. government actually spends money in the real world; an imaginary health-car­e law called “Obamacare­” that bears little to no resemblanc­e to any actual law, let alone the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that was passed in 2010; and a fictional character named “Obama” that bears little to no resemblanc­e to any real person, living or dead, let alone the current President of the United States.

    The GOP has understood for some time that very few people are direct observers of the events and conditions that influence their voting choices; people “know” only what they are told, and what they in turn choose to believe. There is therefore practicall­y no risk and substantia­l potential reward in propagatin­g fiction, whether as a means of winning elections or achieving some other self-inter­ested end.

    I don’t think anything good can come from having the outcome of elections be based on fiction. We do so at our own peril.

    • mrbrink

      For me, I think it’s actually the Obama-character-composite-sketch artists on the left who are still trying to prove Hillary Clinton deserved to win who act as the oxygen feeding the GOP’s relevance and power.

      Without that bitter shitty diaper stinking up the discourse, lingering in the aroma of political treason, I don’t think we’d have reason, as Democrats, to feel threatened by the likes of Rick Perry, or Mitt Romney.

      I refuse to take political fashion tips from the drag queen left.

      • GrafZeppelin127

        For reasons passing understanding, the Left seems to believe that the best way to achieve progressive policy goals is to emotionally blackmail Democrats by electing (or sitting at home with their arms crossed while others elect) Republicans. Liberals and progressiv­es draw far too much pleasure from martyrdom, from feeling “disappoin­ted” and “betrayed” and “taken for granted” by Democratic officehold­ers.

        Every time Republicans win elections because Democratic voters stay home feeling sorry for themselves, they push the Democratic party further to the right, and closer to Grover Norquist’s dream of making it impossible for Democrats to govern as Democrats.

        • mrbrink

          Yeah, that’s the emo-left. I can forgive them because at least I know their heart is in the right place.

          But I think the bitter Clinton faction of the Democratic party are the real gravitational force holding the party down while the GOP works the country and president over like Julius Cesar just to say they told us so.

          They might as well be letting Jack Ruby in through the front door.

          “It should have been Hillary” is not so much a broken heart, but the warning of a twisted and rejected soul.

          • GrafZeppelin127

            “It should have been Hillary” is the whining of an immature and self-indulgent soul. They’re like teenagers; what they want, what they think they want, what they say they want, is always the opposite of what they have.

    • Graf, why on Earth did they deem that unacceptable? I can’t stand HuffPost anymore. The ONLY thing I go there for is the Comedy page.

      • GrafZeppelin127

        They’ve posted it now, about an hour and a half after I wrote it. I had about five comments get stuck in the queue for that long; they’re all buried 4-5 pages into the thread now.

    • Yet another reason I no longer post at HP. 🙂