Conservatives Fear Perry Will Start Another Culture War

Perhaps Perry will win the nomination and prove too gun-slinging for the American people

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In the stupid culture wars of the 2004 election, liberals were stuck playing the role of the sickly kids who can't throw a spiral while conservatives got to be cool dudes who can throw a touchdown pass while simultaneously shooting a rifle and eating a steak. And yet, Friday, across the op-ed pages of America, it is the conservatives fearing another red-versus-blue battle.

In the National Review, Jonah Goldberg first assures readers that the stereotypes are all true:
Perry's twang offends liberals who think everyone should talk like Barack Obama, a man of cosmopolitan and learned diction. 
Let's cut through the clutter: A lot of people on the East and West coasts are bigots and snobs about "flyover types." They equate funny accents with stupidity, and they automatically assume someone who went to Texas A&M must be dumber than someone who went to Yale. Overt displays of religion trigger their fight-or-flight instincts, causing them to lash out irrationally.
... before explaining that he's just dead tired of defending Real America."I think conservatism needs to spend less time defending candidates for who they are, and more time supporting candidates for what they intend to do," Goldberg writes. He then cautions readers that "folksiness isn't a substitute for seriousness, and I have very little patience for those who pretend otherwise."
Likewise, The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan says Perry's personality is a risk to Republicans, as his "primary flaw appears to be a chesty, quick-draw machismo that might be right for an angry base but wrong for an antsy country." Tough talk that the Fed chairman is "treasonous" could cost the GOP the election, she says:
In 2012, the Republican candidate will be called either mean or dumb, or both. Certainly, his politics will be called mean. And if the candidate is Rick Perry, people will look at him and think: Hmmm, is there something to the charge?
He should keep that in mind as he pops off. If there is a deeper, more reflective person there he'd best show it, sooner rather than later. This is the point where out of the corner of their eye, people are starting to get impressions.
And The New York TimesDavid Brooks demands everyone -- especially Mitt Romney -- start taking Perry seriously. Perry's "persona is perfectly tuned to offend people along the Acela corridor and to rally those who oppose those people," Brooks writes. "He does very well with the alternative-reality right -- those who don’t believe in global warming, evolution or that Obama was born in the U.S." He must be stopped! Brooks offers a couple tips on doing that -- by calling him corrupt and by making the campaign about economics, not Nancy Pelosi.
But Republican consultant Curt Anderson is appalled at the right's lack of culture war fight. In Politico, he writes that of course you expect arrogance from the left. Yet now "Perryphobia" is coming from the right too, not just on Capitol Hill, but among conservative elites!
You know the type: they wear the Adam Smith tie; yammer at us on FOX News all day; read the Journal with devotional religious fervor; skip church to watch Meet the Press, and make their living off the generosity of people they secretly look down on with benevolent disdain.
Don't they know about Perry's jobs record?
Well, yes. But you must understand -- Perry is a "cowboy" after all. He holds prayer services in football stadiums, he's skeptical of Al Gore's global warming dogma and he even has the nerve to say in public that it is possible that God created the heavens and the earth. What a Luddite!
Oh snap. Of course, Anderson's right about the native culture of many of Perry's critics on the right -- Goldberg, for example, is so fake American he's not only a native New Yorker, his wedding was announced in The New York Times! It's interesting to see a Republican making the case -- made long ago by liberals like Glenn Greenwald -- that there are plenty of brie-eating sissies on the right, too. (Anderson even includes Karl Rove among those elites -- Rove, the guy who ran the campaign that attacked John Kerry for windsurfing.) But what is to become of American political discourse if people who wear bow-ties are no longer allowed to declare themselves Manwich-eating men of the people?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.