Perry makes quite a first impression

Though Rick Perry’s name has been in the political mix for a while, yesterday was the Texas governor’s first weekday as a candidate for national office. The New York Times noted his “confident” swagger had the effect of “injecting a shot of vigor into the contest.”

He certainly injected something into the race, but “vigor” isn’t the first word that comes to mind.

This, for example, might very well be the single craziest thing uttered by a presidential candidate so far this year.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, making his maiden campaign swing in Iowa after jumping into the race for the Republican presidential nomination, suggested Monday night that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would be committing an act of treason by printing more money between now and November 2012.

Responding to a question about the Federal Reserve at a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Perry said: “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous, or treasonous, in my opinion.”

ThinkProgress has the video.

As a matter of policy, this is plainly idiotic. As a matter of decency, listening to a governor who raised the specter of secession accuse the Fed chairman of “treason” is just appalling.

Even Tony Fratto, a former spokesperson for George W. Bush, called Perry’s remarks “inappropriate and unpresidential.”

Also yesterday, Perry went after President Obama’s patriotism again. Asked if the governor had suggested Obama doesn’t love the United States, Perry replied, “I dunno, you need to ask him.”

And if that wasn’t quite enough, Perry also told Iowans yesterday, “If this shirt has a few wrinkles in it, it’s not my wife’s fault.”

I argued the other day that so-called “savior candidates,” who jump into the presidential race late, tend to do very poorly, at least in part because they don’t have the luxury of working out the kinks away from the spotlight. Every candidate needs time to get better — on the stump, in interviews, in debates, in engaging with diverse national voters directly — but so-called saviors are forced to be polished and proficient immediately.

And yet, here’s Perry, suggesting a Fed chairman doing his job is acting in a treasonous way, attacking the president’s patriotism, and suggesting that ironing is women’s work — all on his first weekday as a candidate.

It’s certainly possible that Republican voters will swoon and find Perry’s nonsense endearing, but at this point, the Texas governor has only reinforced fears he’s little more than a thuggish buffoon.