Part of the problem here is that the constant air time they've been given seems to suggest that we should take them seriously. The truth is, BooMan was right...the Perry gaffe we've all be focusing on was minor. Its what he actually said that was the real gaffe. And today, E.J. Dionne says so too.
Perry’s memory lapse showed that he wasn’t asserting anything that he is truly serious about because he is not serious about what government does, or ought not to do. For him, governing seems a casual undertaking.
“And I will tell you,” he declared, “it’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education and the — what’s the third one there? Let’s see.”
Yes, let’s see what “gone” might imply. Would Perry end all federal aid to education? Would he do away with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the part of the Commerce Department that, among other things, tracks hurricanes? Energy was the department he forgot. Would he scrap the department’s 17 national labs, including such world-class facilities as Los Alamos, N.M., Oak Ridge, Tenn., or — there’s that primary coming up — Aiken, S.C.?
I’m not accusing Perry of wanting to do any of these things because I don’t believe he has given them a moment of thought. And that’s the problem for conservatives. Their movement has been overtaken by a quite literally mindless opposition to government. Perry, correctly, thought he had a winning sound bite, had he managed to blurt it out, because if you just say you want to scrap government departments (and three is a nice, round number), many conservatives will cheer without asking questions.
Of course Perry isn't the only one. We have Michelle Bachmann saying the ACLU is running the CIA (this is from someone who thinks she's running for the presidency folks...seriously!). And then of course, there's the so-called "sane one," Romney who keeps suggesting that getting rid of health care reform is a way to help balance the budget - even though the CBO says it will reduce the deficit by $230 billion over 10 years. And of course, when you don't like that reality, you do what Gingrich did and call the CBO "liars" and promise to abolish it.
Going back to the Dionne article, I have to say that I agree with him.
This is a long way from the conservatism I used to respect. Although I often disagreed with conservatives, I admired their prudence, their affection for tradition and their understanding that the intricate bonds of community are established with great difficulty over time and not easy to reweave once they are torn asunder. At their best, conservatives forced us to think harder. Now, many in the ranks seem to have decided that hard and nuanced thinking is a telltale sign of liberalism.
Until they stop this nonsense, I have no idea why anyone takes them seriously.