Telling the Truth Can Be Dangerous Business


True confession: my wife and I like the film Ishtar.  Really like it, think it’s hilarious.  Yes, that Ishtar, the universally-panned, some-say-most-awful-film-ever.  We crack up at it.  If you have two minutes, watch the trailer, and note the irony in Dustin Hoffman’s words at the end:

YouTube player

The signature song of the two aspiring songwriters (Hoffman and Beatty) was “Telling the Truth Can Be Dangerous Business”.  Boy, can it ever.  Fast-forward to the 2012 presidential race, and focus on Rick Perry.  Full disclosure: Rick Perry is my guy.  Is he a perfect candidate?  Of course not; don’t bother telling me how awful his HPAV vaccination executive order was (it was horrible), and I don’t care that he endorsed Al Gore in 1988 (I used to wear a puka shell necklace, so can’t we all be forgiven an indiscretion here or there?).

A Brief Aside on How to Choose a Candidate to Support in the Primaries

Step 1: Determine who is, and who is not, an acceptable candidate; i.e., “can I vote for this guy (even holding my breath, if need be), or can I not?  Going back to 2008, Rudy Giuliani, for instance, failed that test; under no circumstances would I have chosen him over the Libertarian candidate (I assume my readers realize that pulling the “D” lever is never an option).  John McCain was, though I held my nose.  This time around, practically every candidate on the Republican side is someone for whom I’d vote against The Anointed One, though I’m honestly not sure yet on Flip Flopney.  He stretches my tolerance quite a bit.

Step 2: Support the most-electable acceptable candidate.  That candidate, in 2012, is Rick Perry.  In fact, despite Smokin’ Barry’s terrible approval numbers, I’m not convinced any Republicans could beat him except for Perry and Flopney (and I’m not totally convinced on the latter).  The goal isn’t to score ideological purity points; it does no good to nominate a Ron Paul or a Michelle Bachmann who cannot win the presidency (and they cannot).  Rick Perry, on the other hand, is eminently electable, one or two gaffes aside.

Now, back to our story.  Americans,understandably, hold Congress in contempt.  We are tired of politicians, we say, who cannot get things done that need to get done.  We want ’em to work together to solve the problems of this country, we say.  Fine.

So Rick Perry has the courage to bring up one of our significant problems: Socialist Security.  He (rightly) calls it a Ponzi Scheme (don’t like that characterization?  Look up the definition.  Socialist Security is textbook, at least as currently configured).  He even questions its constitutionality (and that is a discussion worth having as well). He is adamant that those to whom promises have been made (read: seniors and near-seniors) must receive what they’ve been promised (that is only moral and fair).  But he rightly says that we have a huge problem that needs fixing.

But remember our title: Telling the Truth Can Be Dangerous Business.  Along comes politician Flip Flopney in the recent Republican debate, and he accuses Perry of “scaring seniors” (well, perhaps those unable to read or understand simple English, one would suppose).  And a new poll suggests that Republicans aren’t sure what to make of Perry because he’s telling the truth about Socialist Security.  We’ve known Socialist Security was a looming problem for at least a couple of decades now, but politicians fiddle, Rome burns, and we get nearer and nearer to Socialist Security insolvency.  Look, maybe you don’t like what Rick Perry has to say about the subject; maybe his choice of words isn’t your cup of tea.  I get it.  But we had better find some leaders who are willing to “touch the third rail” pretty soon, instead of politicians who keep punting this particular football down the field every chance they get.

Look, I understand that Socialist Security is a program that is well-loved, and that despite its dubious constitutionality, it isn’t going anywhere.  Libertarian Byron, meet Reality Byron.  Fine.  But for goodness’ sake, let’s at least fix it so that other concerns aside, it can function as one of the better government programs rather than as just one more that is going south.  In order to do that, we have to make it a real part of our national conversation.  And instead of criticizing leaders like Rick Perry who are plain-talking about it, let’s work together to get it fixed.  Yesterday.



  1. Mark Merritt on November 28, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Drastic times call for drastic measures, and that’s why I’ll be voting for Ron Paul this time around. Have you looked into him, or are you under the impression that he’s a kook?

    • Byron on November 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

      No, I don’t think he’s a kook at all; rather, he’s quasi-libertarian, as am I. I think, truth be told, that he is probably the closest thing we have to a real, Founding Fathers-vision guy. I also think he has zero chance at every being elected. That’s why, much as I like him and MOST (not all) of the things he says, he’s not my guy. At one point awhile back, I posted on how I go about choosing a candidate to support in the primaries. Nutshell: support the MOST ELECTABLE acceptable candidate, derived at by determining who is an acceptable candidate, and then choose the one that has the best shot at being elected president. In my judgment, that’s Rick Perry, though I know it cuts against some current “conventional wisdom”.

  2. Mark Merritt on November 29, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Rick Perry is OK in my book and would be preferable to Obama, certainly. In Paul’s case I think much of his economic message has caught on with the more conservative voters. Meaning ultimately that even if they don’t vote for him, maybe we can get this debt ship turned around – maybe. The place where I disagree with him [and vehemently] is that he feels Iran isn’t much of a threat. Still, if he was to win the White House, he wouldn’t be in a vacuum. He would have intel gatherers and other avenues to inform him of the harsh reality that is the middle east.

  3. Blake on December 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Be careful on the “Most Electable” calculation. While none of the candidates up right now are exactly stellar, choosing the one anointed “most electable” is no sure path to victory. John Kerry was somehow able to gain that title eight years ago and it turns out he was unelectable. It appears that the Repubs are about to make the same mistake (choosing the most “electable” candidate; which seems to translate to “the most recognizable former-big-name politician.” Kerry for the Dems; Newt for the Repubs).

    Perry may well be the most electable candidate because flubs mean nothing, just look at W, he was a flub machine yet won twice (& the popular vote once). I think the “electable” dynamic breaks-down once its popularized/dumbed-down for the masses/anointed as “important” by the mainstream media.

    • Byron on December 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      Blake, first thanks for finding the blog and reading some; after laying out for a year, I’m not sure how many folks have come back, so it’s always nice to get some newbies. Now, to your point, I’m going to disagree to this extent: I don’t really believe that the current rush to Newt is because Republicans consider him the most-electable (frankly, other than Ron Paul, I consider him perhaps the least-electable of the current crop). I think that the rush to Newt is happening because he is smart, articulate, and perceived to be a committed conservative (his reputation as such is not warranted).

      I agree with you about Perry, frankly, because as you say, the “flubs” are meaningless (well, they SHOULD be; as George Will says, these “debates” measure nothing relevant to governing the country), and his Texas record, while not perfect, is quite strong. I’m not sure we’ve heard the last of Rick Perry by any means…

  4. Blake on December 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I’m picking up what you’re putting down, just be careful with the idea of “Most electable” once the media gets a hold of it. I don’t think any partisan democrat who was involved in the primary process in ’04 agreed with the media’s representation of John Kerry as most electable. So I would suggest downplaying the Most Electable, because that means different things to different people and to sheepeople (probably more of a problem demographic for the Dems), it means whatever the media tells them it means. & the right-wing media/establishment is certainly in Gingrich’s corner…

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