The Ballad of Perry and Erickson: A Blogger Gets Co-Opted

Rick Perry had always been coy about his presidential ambitions. Yet, they were never far from the surface, if one cared to look. He actually shoved Sarah Palin off the stage at her own press conference in 2008. This should have been a tip-off that he was being less than forthright about his plans. After Obama’s inauguration, Perry gradually began to raise his national profile. Indeed, by July 2009 he was already doing interviews talking about the state of this nation, the glories of Texas, and the failures of the Obama administration.

Then in late 2010, Perry released his book, Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington. While he now claims that he would not have written the book if he had known that he was running for president, the full title of the book says it all. Indeed, even as dim a bulb as Ezra Klein saw it as a campaign book when it came out. Newsweek, in its review, said, “If he’s good for Texas, why not America?” Yet, despite all of the evidence that he was planning a run, Perry was still evasive about his intentions.

By the spring of 2011, there was a growing drumbeat that Perry should run for president. However, Perry denied that he had any intention of running, even while giving interviews with the National Review where he speculated what it would be like to be president.

By summer, this drumbeat had turned into a wild cacophony of paid political operatives beating on garbage cans, co-opted reporters tooting his horn, and naive bloggers thundering from their basements. Anyone with any degree of sophistication could see that this was being whipped up by the candidate himself. Yet, Perry played it cool: “Really? … Me? Could I … should I run? Well, only if you beg me.”

Perry got people to think that it was their idea that he run, and everyone fell for it. By the time Perry gave his “surprise” announcement that he was running for president on August 15, many Republicans were willing to make him president by acclamation.

Yet, Perry was unvetted and untested. While people knew that he could give a good speech, his past record and positions on many issues were all but unknown outside of Texas. As it turned out, even though Perry may yet become the nominee, in many ways he is not the candidate people thought he was. He is obviously highly ambitious, coldly calculating in his view of what he thinks he can say and get away with, and not very up-front about the motivations for his decisions. On the issues, he also carries a lot of baggage that many conservatives may not approve of.

How does a man like Rick Perry go from point A to point B without being found out for who he is? He needs willing tools. He needs people like Erick Erickson of RedState.

There was a time when Erick Erickson was a reputable commentator on conservative issues. He was, after all, an early supporter of Sarah Palin. However, there was always something a little hinky about the man. His commentary was always just a little off.

Then he began appearing on CNN, where his opinions took upon all the insight and gravity of a David Gergen, a man who served many presidents with mediocrity, a man whose judgement is ignored by all with good sense. Erickson’s own commentary–the reason he was on CNN to begin with–began to suffer in direct proportion to his newly raised profile. In short, he became Gergenized.

Something else also happened. In 2007, RedState was bought by a media company with ties to conservative causes. Suddenly, Erickson apparently decided that his old ways and old friends were no longer good enough. By all appearances, he was co-opted by the very people he was supposed to write about.

This all became public earlier this year. Eric Erickson had supported Tea Party candidate Jamie Radtke for the Virginia Senate. However, his corporate masters were supporting George Allen in this election, so Erickson turned on a dime and began viciously attacking Radtke, accusing her of being “a drunk, rambling idiot”. As reported by Stacy McCain,

Erickson had endorsed Radtke in January but an Aug. 24 Politico column by Ben Smith reported that Erickson was pressured to back away from that endorsement by Eagle executives because of their friendships with Radtke’s GOP primary rival, former Sen. George Allen.
In the telephone interview … Radtke said she believes Erickson’s accusations against her were an attempt to divert attention from the substance of that article: “So I think the issue is that he was confronted by Politico about [backing away from his earlier endorsement] and he didn’t tell the truth and now this is a dodge game for him: ‘So I don’t have to deal with the real story, let’s totally defame Jamie and throw her under the bus and say complete lies about her so I don’t have to deal with the real situation.’ And it’s absolutely reprehensible.”

Later, Erickson issued a rather lame, non-apologetic apology to Radtke.

Radtke was not the only person Erickson turned on. His latest betrayal is of Sarah Palin and her supporters, as he trumpets his new found savior, Rick Perry.

Erickson’s single excuse for trashing Sarah Palin is that she has not made up her mind on whether or not she is running for president. It has nothing to do with Palin’s qualities as a candidate or her position on any substantive issue. In his view, she is playing the coquette and stringing people along, just as Perry did for more than four years. Yet, somehow, Erickson sees this as disqualifying for Palin, even though he accepts it from Perry and from the other candidates. Indeed, even while Erickson was railing against Palin last night for not announcing her decision on his timetable, he was open to the idea of Mike Huckabee getting back into the race.

Meanwhile, Erickson has done an admirable job of carrying water for the Perry campaign. Perry in fact announced his candidacy for president at a RedState gathering after being introduced by Erickson. Erickson apparently sees Perry as the only viable alternative to Mitt Romney. While he has admitted the obvious–that Perry has had a miserable performance in the debates–he excuses this on the basis that Perry is not much of a debater. Though in 2007 he compared Perry’s Gardasil mandate to using young girls as lab rats, he now states that Perry should be given a Mulligan on the issue because no girls were actually harmed. He has become an apologist for Perry’s stance on in-state tuition, and even sees Perry’s views on immigration as an advantage with Hispanics. Despite the fact that many people have questions about Perry’s cronyism and business ties, Erickson has never addressed this issue, except to say that Merck’s many ties to Perry are “unsubstantiated”. However, he has given this unique explanation as to why people are attacking Rick Perry:

Let me sum this all up for you into what Rick Perry’s biggest problem is.
Whether you are talking about Alex [Castellanos] (Team Carole Strayhorn 2006) or Karl Rove (Team Kay Bailey Hutchison 2010) or a host of other national Republican consultants, Rick Perry and his Texas team have beaten a significant portion of them.
But they did not just beat them. In many cases, Team Perry then shut the consultants who opposed him out of future business with him.
So there are scores and scores of Republican consultants who have scores to settle with Rick Perry and his team …
So there’s a lot of score settling in a lot of the attacks. Next time you hear some Republican consultant say Rick Perry can’t win because he is too much of a cowboy, understand that it is probably a national Republican consultant fearful they will be shut out of work if Perry wins …

So, in Erickson’s universe, a complete rejection of Palin because she has not announced her decision on his timetable is fair game, while anyone who offers up criticisms or questions of Perry’s record or stance on the issues is only doing so in order to settle old scores and promote their own careers.

In the light of how he turned on Radtke, it is completely legitimate to ask if Erickson has turned against Palin in a nod to his corporate masters, in order to curry favor with his new friends on TV, or even to advance his own career with a future Perry administration. It is impossible to know the real motivation for his attacks. However, whatever the case, it is clear that he is no longer an honest voice, that he has been co-opted by the system, and that he is now just as compromised as any other political operative and the journalists in the MSM.

It is time to stop pretending that Erick Erickson is an independent blogger offering his true, unfettered opinion on things.

It is time to say to Erickson, Enough!

If anyone is unconvinced that Erickson is being underhanded in this whole thing, then they should read The Tragedy of Red State, posted, ironically, on RedState. It seems as though Erickson has been quietly pushing Perry’s candidacy since the beginning of this year, despite earlier swearing absolute allegiance to Palin even if she went down in bitter defeat in the general election.

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4 Responses to The Ballad of Perry and Erickson: A Blogger Gets Co-Opted

  1. I’ve been following Erickson’s updates on “the Horserace” for some time, and while they’ve sometimes been informative, they’ve also often been petty and even contradictory. I’ve found it’s best to take Erickson with a couple grains of salt.

    Even so, “the end of September” is not Erickson’s timetable, it’s Palin’s. She did say she would make a decision by the end of September. Now maybe that means she has made a decision and simply not announced it, but her time is quickly running out.

    The longer she takes, and the more self-established deadlines she misses, the more supporters she loses. A Fox News poll last month found 71% of GOPers don’t want her to run. As time goes on, that number will only go up.

    • John Scotus says:

      Erickson’s behavior regarding this issue has been so unbelievably petty and childish that he is without excuse. And in the last 24 hours, he has acted as though he was deranged in his postings in RedState and Twitter. If indeed people do not want her to run, then she will gain no support when she throws her hat into the ring. There is no logical reason for Erickson’s behavior and the things he has said about her and her supporters, except that he has been co-opted, or has gone insane.

  2. So much for independent objective reporting. Apprently the MSM are not the only ones with this problem.

    • John Scotus says:

      Indeed. How does one go from saying that he will support Palin in the general election even if she suffers a defeat of Goldwater proportions, to writing her off in such a way just a year later? And, how many other bloggers are skewing what they write because they have a secret agenda?

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