Rick Perry’s Turkey comment won’t hurt him with his base
Gaffe master and rapidly sinking GOP presidential hopeful, Texas Governor Rick Perry, caused quite a stir this week with his uninformed comments about Turkey, an important and strategically situated U.S. ally that shares borders with Iraq, Syria and Iran:
“Obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then … not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it.”
It kind of makes you wonder if he’s getting his foreign policy briefings from the same people that took care of Sarah Palin’s, somebody that another GOP presidential hopeful, Newt Gingrich, now assures us he would like to see play a major role in his administration. (Speaking of strategically situated, she can see Russia from her house.)
It’s not as though there aren’t any Republicans that know anything about foreign affairs, but they may be trying to get rid of them as fast as they can. If Newt had said that GOP Senator Dick Lugar would be his first pick for Secretary of State, for example, he might have been worth listening to for another 20 seconds. Lugar is the most senior member of the U.S. Senate, a Rhodes scholar, former mayor of Indianapolis and the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has been instrumental in reducing the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons around the world. He gets it. Sarah Palin never has.
Unfortunately, none of that stuff means much with narrow-minded nationalists and they seem to hold great sway in GOP primaries. Now in his sixth term, Lugar faces a primary threat from a TEA Party candidate after a stellar career in public service because when they talk about foreign relations at all, too many in the Republican base value bravado, saber rattling and jingoism over things like world peace and international cooperation. In fact, you don’t really have to talk about any of that foreign stuff at all, unless it’s to mention that you want to increase the budget for the military. I have nothing against the military since I spent a half dozen years in a uniform myself, but it’s often the most costly and crude way to pursue foreign policy goals. It’s something we resort to when we’ve failed elsewhere along the way, for whatever reason. (The TEA Party also likes Sarah.)
Working off that same kind of sentiment, Gingrich is running ads picking on Romney for knowing some French. That’s the kind of stuff that plays well to his freedom fry eating supporters and it’s a problem for the Republican Party, in general. Their standard bearers like Rush Limbaugh and other narrow-minded mouthpieces regularly suggest helpful things like saying that the U.S. should quit the United Nations because it is anti-American. That may be why their greatest contribution to true patriotism is that of making Canadians forever grateful that they don’t have to live in the United States of America. (And just to show you how these things can come full circle, remember when Rick Perry talked about having Texas secede from the union he now wants to lead?)
As for Turkey, they’ve got some issues, but probably nothing that Rick Perry would ever be likely understand or be able to help with. We do, too – and he doesn’t get a lot those, either.
UPDATE: Then again, Rick Perry may not have much of a base. Word that he’s dropping out of the race:
How Europe became a dirty word in the U.S. election:
Lugar loses Indiana U.S. Senate Primary: