What the Bush Aides Who Bash Perry Are Really Saying

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Loyalty to the former president shouldn't be the main factor in their assessments of the current Texas governor

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Several weeks back, I mused on whether Texas Gov. Rick Perry, his cowboy hat, and his Lone Star State twang could win the GOP nomination, despite having an image problem: namely, that he reminds people of a certain ex-president. He's criticized George W. Bush sparingly in the past. Is he going to do so again in order to highlight the many differences between the two men?

As it turns out, some Bush loyalists think so. And they aren't happy, as Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny report:

Some are indicating that they will oppose Mr. Perry should he join the presidential race with an anti-Bush message. One close associate of the former president, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid a personal confrontation with the governor, warned Mr. Perry against establishing his own conservative bona fides by criticizing Mr. Bush, saying, "If you're really trying to be the nominee and want to go the distance, you just don't want the former president of the United States and his people working against you."

Another, speaking anonymously as well, said, "He's going to need all the help he can get from all the Republicans he can muster, so he ought to be prudent about that."

I am not accustomed to calling people bad Americans, but here I'll make an exception: if a governor launches a bid for the White House, and the factor that determines whether you support or oppose him is whether or not he criticizes your former boss -- as opposed to whether he'd make a good leader -- you're a bad American. And telling the New York Times about your blinkered value system does far more to discredit your former boss than any mere critic ever could.


Image credit: Reuters
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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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