Perry’s ‘lazy’ strategy

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry has seen his candidacy fall apart over the last several weeks, largely done in by his own bizarre flaws and general ineptitude. The Texas governor does, however, have a comeback plan, and it involves relentless attacks against President Obama.

In theory, that seems like a fairly sensible plan. The Republican base hates the president, so it stands to reason Perry would try to connect with these voters by appealing to their rage.

Unfortunately, this means the dimwitted governor has been reduced to ridiculous claims.

On Fox News last night, Perry insisted the president “grew up in a privileged way,” and “never had to really work for anything.” In the world I like to call reality, Obama grew up poor* and relied entirely on hard work to get ahead in life, making Perry’s new line of attack … how do I put this gently … stupid.

But wait, there’s more. The Perry campaign has a new attack ad, too. Here’s the script:

Video of President Obama: “We’ve been a little bit lazy I think over the last couple of decades.”

Rick Perry: “Can you believe that? That’s what our President thinks is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy? That’s pathetic. It’s time to clean house in Washington.”

“It’s time for a Balanced Budget Amendment that forces Washington to stop overspending. If Congress balks, cut their pay and send them home.”

“Obama’s socialist policies are bankrupting America. We must stop him now. I’m Rick Perry. I approve this message.”

Let’s unpack this. First, the president didn’t say Americans are lazy. This myth has been debunked over and over and over and over and over again. When someone makes a claim, the claim is proven false, and the person makes it again anyway, they’re lying.

Second, a Balanced Budget Amendment is the worst idea in the history of bad ideas.

And third, Perry keeps using the word “socialism,” but he doesn’t know what it means. In fact, I’d pay good money to see the poor guy try to explain what he thinks a “socialist policy” looks like.

Perry’s right that something here is “pathetic,” but it’s not the president’s call for more businesses in the United States.

* Update: I’ve received some pushback about the president’s upbringing. He wasn’t well off, the argument goes, but he wasn’t “poor,” either. It’s a fair point — Obama was raised by a single mother who, at least for a brief time, had to rely on food stamps. In time, however, the future president lived with his middle-class grandparents.

That said, the notion that Obama “grew up in a privileged way,” and “never had to really work for anything” is still demonstrably ridiculous. Obama spent much of his early years living in conditions that can best be described as “modest,” and worked hard to get ahead.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.