Gee, You Think? (Running for President Edition)

Via the Des Moines RegisterRick Perry’s wife says scrutiny faced during presidential campaign has been ‘intense’

“I thought I was pretty seasoned, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said.

[…]

“Rick’s been running for office since our son was three years old,” said Anita Perry, his wife of 28 years. “There is nothing that we have done in the past that we’re ashamed of and we know every little nook and cranny is going to be scrutinized.”

One expects that the intensity will only increase.

I personally, cannot imagine going through the process.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Jay Tea says:

    The best way is to get the media behind you. They will not only not investigate you, they’ll screen you from anyone else doing the digging.

    And it works like a fricking charm — look at 2008.

    J.

  2. @Jay Tea: Except, of course, that’s nonsense.

  3. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Tell that to those who wanted to look into Obama’s relationships with Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers. Or those who wanted to look into Michelle Obama getting a hefty raise at her job right after Senator Obama got a million-dollar earmark for that hospital — and, by the way, the hospital didn’t bother filling her position after she resigned and moved to DC. Or to Dr. Stanley Kurtz, whose research into the Chicago Annenberg Challenge led to harassment and threats when he went on a Chicago radio station. Or those who wanted to see Obama’s legislative records from the Illinois legislature.

    Anything in Obama’s background that was not part of the official campaign narrative was declared off-limits by the media, and any who challenged it were called racists or worse.

    J.

  4. Perry apparently never realized the rest of the country has a variety of worldviews completely unlike that of the average Texan.

  5. @Jay Tea: The fact that Ayers and Wright were both national stories (and Wright prompted the need for a national speech by the candidate) will not, of course, dissuade you from your position, I expect.

    There is a difference between “a story didn’t get covered” and “the story wasn’t what I wanted it to be”/”the story didn’t produce the results I wanted.

  6. samwide says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There is a difference between “a story didn’t get covered” and “the story wasn’t what I wanted it to be”/”the story didn’t produce the results I wanted.

    Yeah, there is that. Too bad. It’s enough to make one weep.

  7. Socrates says:

    “There is a difference between “a story didn’t get covered” and “the story wasn’t what I wanted it to be”/”the story didn’t produce the results I wanted.”

    Oh, yes, yes! Exactly.

  8. mantis says:

    Anything in Obama’s background that was not part of the official campaign narrative was declared off-limits by the media

    Shorter Jay Tea: I live in a fantasy world.

  9. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: OK, how about “covered adequately?” As in, wouldn’t it be nice if we’d known what sorts of things the CAC achieved while Obama ran it with Ayers — “this guy who lives in my neighborhood.” Or about Obama’s ties with Tony Rezko. Or a bit more details about Valerie Jarrett, slumlord, and Cabrini Green.

    I heard about these from conservative non-traditional media. Not the mainstream media.

    All I would like is for Obama’s past accomplishments to get the same level of scrutiny as, say, Sarah Palin’s obstetrics records or John McCain’s non-affair with a lobbyist. That last one was a fun one — the New York Times endorses McCain, then turns around and pulls a huge smear job accusing him of having an affair with a lobbyist with zero proof.

    Would it be racist to ask for Obama to be treated like a Republican by the press?

    J.

  10. @Jay Tea:

    I heard about these from conservative non-traditional media. Not the mainstream media.

    My guess is that might have something to do with your choices of media sources as much as anything else.

    All I would like is for Obama’s past accomplishments to get the same level of scrutiny as, say, Sarah Palin’s obstetrics records or John McCain’s non-affair with a lobbyist.

    Ah yes, I recall Palin having to make a major speech about her obstetrics record. Oh wait, no, that was Obama making a speech about Wright. Funny that.

    And, as I recall, the McCain non-affair of which you speech was, in fact, a non-story. Obama’s alleged “palling around with terrorists” (i.e., Ayers) did get a lot more play than that.

    Would it be racist to ask for Obama to be treated like a Republican by the press?

    I know that you think this is a clever retort, but it isn’t. It is an utterly non-substantive question.

    All you are offering up are right-wing talk radio talking points and nothing more.

    And, btw, given that Fox News Channel is the most watched of cable news, it is rather difficult to pretend like they are not “mainstream media” (unless, of course, your def of MSM is simply “stuff Jay Tea doesn’t like”).

  11. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Fine, how about one: how long would a Republican survive as a viable candidate if they had an associate who was an unrepentant domestic terrorist AND whose relationship with said politician kept “evolving” as more and more details emerge, causing said politician to constantly have to update the story as each prior version became “inoperative?”

    J.

  12. @Jay Tea: You are taking Bill Ayers far, far too seriously. Again, this is a talk radio talking point. It is not a serious issue.

    Can you detail, in any substantive way or provide any evidence whatsoever that Obama’s association with Ayers matters in any way?

    Are you really suggesting that Obama shares ideological or political space with the Weather Underground.

    As I stated from the onset in this thread: this is nonsense.

  13. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: How about this: “it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup.”

    Obama story 1: “He’s just this guy from my neighborhood, and I was just a kid when he was helping build bombs to kill Americans — especially American soldiers — so it doesn’t matter.”

    Obama story 2: “Oh, yeah, I’ve met him a few times. And come to think of it, I had my political ‘coming-out’ party at his home. But that’s it. Honest.”

    Obama story 3: “Now that you mention it, he and I did did spend several years on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which I headed up, and we spent a whole lot of money to achieve exactly nothing to improve Chicago’s schools. But that’s the extent of it.”

    Obama story 4: “What book? Oh, that book? He wrote it? I remember someone showed me a book about education that I thought was pretty cool, and said some nice things about it, but didn’t remember it until you reminded me of it.”

    (All quotes paraphrased for sarcastic intent, but generally correct)

    I wonder if Obama ever read Ayers’ prior work, Prairie Fires (co-author), which was dedicated to — among others — Sirhan Sirhan.

    Ayers is a better educated, less competent Timothy McVeigh.

    J.

  14. @Jay Tea: And your point is? First, I am not sure what this has to do with media coverage. Second, I will state again: Can you detail, in any substantive way or provide any evidence whatsoever that Obama’s association with Ayers matters in any way?

    Are you really suggesting that Obama shares ideological or political space with the Weather Underground.

    I wonder if Obama ever read Ayers’ prior work, Prairie Fires (co-author), which was dedicated to — among others — Sirhan Sirhan.

    Well, he must’ve done, at least by your theory, wherein Obama and Ayers are tight, or something.

    Again: you are assigning Ayers far more significance than he deserves. And, worse, you really aren’t even explaining why he matters.

  15. An Interested Party says:

    Fine, how about one: how long would a Republican survive as a viable candidate if they had an associate who was an unrepentant domestic terrorist…

    John McCain, who has certainly lasted a long time, has not been hurt by his association with a domestic terrorist

  16. Jay Tea says:

    @An Interested Party: Would that be the same Liddy who 1) worked for the government, B) never targeted innocents, and III) served his sentence and paid his debts?

    J.

  17. @Jay Tea: I take you have abandoned any attempt to answer the following direct questions: Can you detail, in any substantive way or provide any evidence whatsoever that Obama’s association with Ayers matters in any way?

    Are you really suggesting that Obama shares ideological or political space with the Weather Underground?

  18. @Steven L. Taylor: Because, see, those are the kinds of questions that actually matter in such a discussion.

  19. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I can’t believe I’m having to spell this out to you. So I’m going to assume that you know the answer, but you want me to make it obvious to some of the dolts who frequent this place (such as, say, WR).

    1) It demonstrates a terrible lack of judgment on Obama’s part. As I said before, I think of Ayers as a more educated and less competent Timothy McVeigh. He is a repugnant human being, and should be shunned by those who value civil behavior and not trying to blow up innocent people.

    2) It legitimizes Ayers and aids in the rehabilitation of his public image — which is absolutely only skin deep, as he’s said repeatedly that he regrets none of his radical youth and actually said that they didn’t blow up enough bombs.

    3) It helps sanitize the true history of the worst of the 60’s radicals — that they were idealistic, well-meaning, noble revolutionaries, and not domestic terrorists.

    If Ayers had had a Chuck Coulson kind of conversion, then it would be acceptable. But he’s still proud of his days as a domestic terrorist; all that changed was he got smart about his PR.

    I find it refreshing that, on his retirement, he was denied “Emeritus” status due to the actions of Christopher Kennedy, son of Robert Kennedy, based on Ayers’ book (with others) Prairie Fire, which was dedicated to, among others, Sirhan Sirhan, Robert Kennedy’s assassin.

    Come on, people. Ayers is a guy who considers Sirhan Sirhan a political prisoner, with all the connotations that includes. This is a guy who helped build bombs and plotted to blow up innocent people — including a plan to put a nail bomb at a military Enlisted Dance. And he regrets not one bit of it. This is not a good guy.

    J.

  20. @Jay Tea: Ok, you don’t like Ayers. I sort of figured that out from the get go. As such I can understand why you don’t like the fact that Obama appointed Ayers to a prominent position in the government. Oh, that’s right, he didn’t. Well, there was that sort of unimportant job. What? Not one of those either? Well, I guess the problem was the appointment of Ayers’ disciples to positions of significance. What? None of those, either? Well, I guess it was Ayers’ rather prominent role in the campaign that bothered you. Oh, rats: there wasn’t one of those, either. Maybe it is just the fact that Obama clearly supports in his policies in actions the philosophy of the Weather Underground (not to mention the advocacy for the Sirhan Sirhan half dollar coin).

    You are mistaking me for someone who is impressed with talk radio-esque talking points. I am looking for an actual argument consisting of a proposition defended by actual evidence, not hand waving over the fact that Obama had some dealings with someone you find objectionable.

    I will try one more time (using italics this go ’round). Can you address the following questions: Can you detail, in any substantive way or provide any evidence whatsoever that Obama’s association with Ayers matters in any way?

    Are you really suggesting that Obama shares ideological or political space with the Weather Underground?

    I would note that the issue of the post was about media coverage (an issue you have abandoned to rant about Bill Ayers–a person who is ultimately insignificant to contemporary politics).

  21. I would note, to, my interest in arguing about this is not to defend Obama or that I much care about Ayers. I am engaging because I find this whole type of argumentation to be the product of sloppy thinking and therefore is worth taking to its logical conclusion (which is demonstrate the absurdity of the position). Too much of our politics is this kind of assertion that really isn’t especially helpful. Indeed, it exemplifies, in my opinion, the entire problem with the kind of “thinking” that talk radio had cultivated over the past 20 years.

  22. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I don’t know why you think you can even argue here, Steven. You haven’t read Rules for Radicals, so your poli sci bona fides are still suspect.

  23. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You ask the impossible — to prove what might have happened. But I think I can give an example that might come close to your expectations.

    While Obama and Ayers ran the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Ayers funneled grants to several of his old radical buddies for dubious (at best) purposes. The best example was Ayers running into his old buddy, Michael Klonsky, an avowed Maoist and former head of the Communist Party (Marxist Leninist). Klonsky gave up cab driving, the two set up a “small schools workshop,” and was bankrolled by CAC to the tune of $175,000 — and the “small schools” was only the public portion of their agenda. The rest of it concerned fighting materialism, capitalism, and a host of other American “sins.”

    So here is Obama rubber-stamping grants for Ayers’ own personal project, co-run by him and a former Communist leader. Literally.

    So, had not Obama’s ties to Ayers not been ferreted out, and NOT by the traditional media, what might have happened? Well, I think it safe to say that there would have been a good chance that Ayers might have had a significant say in the Obama administration’s education policy — and that would have been a very bad thing.

  24. @Jay Tea:

    You ask the impossible — to prove what might have happened

    No. I am asking why the Obama-Ayers relationship actually matters. All you keep doing is telling me why you don’t like Ayers and then engaging in guilt-by-association.

  25. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: And as to your main point: the kind of scrutiny routinely paid to Republicans simply was lacking in Obama’s case. And those who tried to look too closely were mocked and marginalized and, in some cases, actually attacked.

    No, not physically; I know the difference. In 1992, a group of Pat Buchanan supporters offered to throw me through a plate glass window for my opinions on their candidate. They didn’t like my asking why the only accused criminals he had any sympathy for were accused Nazi war criminals.

    And they even actively covered up potentially embarrassing evidence. Obama attended a dinner honoring Rashid Khalidi, the noted Palestinian scholar and staunch opponent of Israel. Obama apparently spoke at this dinner. We don’t know what he said, because the LA Times has a video of the event, and won’t release it.

    Please, find me an example of a media outlet possessing video footage of a Republican presidential candidate at a similar event and sealing it away from the public.

    And do NOT make me bring up the John Edwards mess. The National Enquirer should have won a Pulitzer for their coverage.

    J.

  26. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: OK, one last time. I officially give up, because I am getting close to saying intemperate things — and this is your blog, and I won’t be that rude to my host.

    1) Obama gives credibility and standing to Ayers through their association, and diminishes the wretched things Ayers said, did, and believed.

    2) Obama rubber-stamped Ayers’ plans to fund his and his buddy’s little pet project.

    3) Ayers used Obama to push that and several other pet causes, none of which actually achieved a single positive thing and, in many cases, actually made things worse.

    4) Hardly any of these details were uncovered by the traditional media, and in some cases they actually worked to keep potentially embarrassing details about Obama out of the public eye.

    I suggest that your thesis should be altered to read “this is the sort of thing you can expect if you run for office — especially if you’re a Republican.”

    J.

  27. mattb says:

    Jay,

    After doing a bit of research on the Annenberg project and other aspects of the “Obama/Ayer’s” controversy, it becomes pretty clear that your interpretation of the facts doesn’t quite match all of the facts on the ground.

    In fact, your account seems largely the same as a Stanley Kurtz opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (and later explored by the oh so reliable Jerome Corsi). Note that the Kurtz piece was run in the section of the paper where there is no real fact checking. More so, this was investigated by a number of other papers and journalism outlets (one summary of the findings is available here: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2008/oct/10/john-mccain/not-a-radical-group-and-ayers-didnt-run-it/ ). And it appears that most of them didn’t reach the same conclusions. Now that could either be because:

    a. There was a vast left wing media conspiracy to hide this information
    or
    b. There might not have been much going on here in the first place.

    While you might not like the resulting decision (b) — which appears to have been accepted by the public –, but that doesn’t negate the fact that this was actually examined by the press (contra your arguments).

  28. mattb says:

    Michael Klonsky, an avowed Maoist and former head of the Communist Party (Marxist Leninist). Klonsky gave up cab driving

    Of course this account leaves out a few things, like how, since the mid 80’s Klonsky has become a critic of Marxism and has discussed the failings of the Communist project. Also the fact that it wasn’t that he went directly from being a cabbie to running a scam non-profit. He did get a PhD in there, and was teaching at a number of universities. He also served as an education adviser to the the Clinton Administration.

    As far as Klonsky’s group — the Small Schools Project — I find it interesting that it was formed some four years before the Annenberg Challenge started (man, he and Ayers must have been planning that particular scheme for years!) and continues to function to this day.

  29. mattb says:

    Oh…

    Ayers used Obama to push that and several other pet causes, none of which actually achieved a single positive thing and, in many cases, actually made things worse.

    That’s your (and a number of conservative pundits) interpretation of the Annenberg report. It is one of a number of interpretations — including ones by Annenberg and independent reviewers. Here’s a slightly different take on things from the Wikipedia Summary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Annenberg_Challenge#Evaluation )

    Annenberg also ignored criticism from within the education and philanthropic worlds that after five years the Challenge had not produced measurable reform—he hoped that good would come of his gift, but was realistic and doubted he would ever see any concrete, measurable results.[1] For Annenberg that was not the point—his goal was to spur communities and other donors into action—and in that he was not disappointed, with the Challenge raising an additional $600 million from foundations, businesses, universities and individuals.[1]

    On June 12, 2002, the Annenberg Foundation released its final report on the Annenberg Challenge to the press and an audience of education leaders and policymakers at a luncheon in Washington D.C., …. The keynote speaker was the George W. Bush administration’s Secretary of Education Rod Paige, who had been Houston superintendent of schools (1994–2001); in 1997, Houston had become the last of nine cities to win a large urban Annenberg Challenge grant over five years.[86] Paige said he had witnessed the good that came from Annenberg’s gift and had no doubts about the Annenberg Challenge’s accomplishments.[86]

    […]

    An August 2003 final technical report of the Chicago Annenberg Research Project by the Consortium on Chicago School Research said that while “student achievement improved across Annenberg Challenge schools as it did across the Chicago Public School system as a whole, results suggest that among the schools it supported, the Challenge had little impact on school improvement and student outcomes, with no statistically significant differences between Annenberg and non-Annenberg schools in rates of achievement gain, classroom behavior, student self-efficacy, and social competence.”[59] “Breakthrough Schools,” which received special financial and professional support from the Challenge between 1999-2001, a time during which the Challenge began withdrawing funds from other schools, “began to develop in ways that distinguished them from other Annenberg schools and sustained or strengthened aspects of teacher professional community school leadership, and relational trust while other Annenberg schools did not.”[59]

  30. @Jay Tea:

    : And as to your main point: the kind of scrutiny routinely paid to Republicans simply was lacking in Obama’s case.

    I will allow that that is your perception. However, for it to be more than just a perception you would need evidence.

    In regards to Ayers, your argument seems to be that Obama somehow enhanced Ayers, but that doesn’t actually say how the Ayers association matters in terms of Obama’s actions in government.

    I am getting close to saying intemperate things — and this is your blog, and I won’t be that rude to my host.

    I appreciate the desire to remain civil, but I would submit that the reason you are getting frustrated is because I am not accepting your talking points as argument (because they aren’t).

  31. Jay Tea says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: OK, feeling a bit more… temperate?

    I cited the CAC/Small Schools incident of an example of Ayers benefiting from their relationship, and of Obama advancing Ayers’ goals. My conclusion is that such things might have happened if non-mainstream media hadn’t done the work we expect from the usual suspects. And the Rashidi/LA Times story was an example of the media actively covering for Obama, instead of pursuiing the story thoroughly.

    As for non-Obama examples of the media either choosing that certain stories simply don’t “matter” or actively covering them up, I will toss in CNN’s agreeing to cover up some of Saddam Hussein’s atrocities in the 1990’s to preserve their “access,” and the aforementioned John Edwards scandal that none of them wanted to touch until the Enquirer shamed them into it.

    I don’t think I can quite answer the question as you phrased it, but I think I got as close to it as I could. And that’s because I think your question sets an impossible standard.

    Dang, I DID stay civil! Will wonders ever cease?

    J.

  32. Jay Tea says:

    @Jay Tea: Er… let me correct that first sentence. I’m feeling a bit more temperate.

    J.

  33. Neil Hudelson says:

    @mattb:

    So you are saying most of Jay Tea’s examples were horseshit? Shocking!

    @Jay Tea:

    The Saddam thing proves that news outlets choose what to publish as to how it will benefit them and their ratings. This has been true since about…always. Your Saddam example proves nothing as to how the ‘mainstream media’ treats Dems or Republicans differently.

    For what its worth, I agree that the MSM should have covered the John Edwards affair earlier. However once the Enquirer (or whatever tabloid) published the evidence, the MSM did cover it quite extensively. Now you may not be satisfied with the degree of how much it was covered after the fact–I kind of assume you would want to it be the main story for at least a month since it is against someone you find disagreeable–but that doesn’t prove the MSM curtails their treatment of Dems versus Republicans. To prove that you would have to look at two similar cases.

    Was the MSM coverage of the Edwards affair–after the enquirer published their evidence–any less than MSM coverage of the Vitter diapers and prostitutes scandal?

    Nope.

  34. mantis says:

    I would note, to, my interest in arguing about this is not to defend Obama or that I much care about Ayers. I am engaging because I find this whole type of argumentation to be the product of sloppy thinking and therefore is worth taking to its logical conclusion (which is demonstrate the absurdity of the position). Too much of our politics is this kind of assertion that really isn’t especially helpful. Indeed, it exemplifies, in my opinion, the entire problem with the kind of “thinking” that talk radio had cultivated over the past 20 years.

    This is all true, and Jay Tea encapsulates all that you point out is wrong in our discourse. There is no thinking, there is not respect for facts and evidence. There is only repeating the talking points. Always and forever.

  35. @Neil Hudelson: I know, crazy, ain’t it?

  36. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: Let me give that comment the measured, thoughtful, polite response it deserves:

    Blow it out your ass, punk.

    Sincerely yours,

    J.

  37. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea:

    A brilliant riposte from such a great mind.

    Now, I leave you to searching for the Michelle Obama “Whitey Tape.” The em-ess-em sure dropped the ball on that one too, the librul basterds!

  38. @Jay Tea:

    I don’t think I can quite answer the question as you phrased it, but I think I got as close to it as I could. And that’s because I think your question sets an impossible standard.

    Well, a couple of thoughts:

    1) If one cannot articulate why something matters, then my conclusion is that it is quite likely that the thing in question does not matter. You are clearly quite concerned about the Ayers-Obama connection, but if that connection was as important as you (and other commentators) have made it out to be, surely it would be possible to articulate the significance,

    2) Instead, you seem concerned about something that happened in the past. All well and good, but I am having a hard time seeing the sinister nature of this past event,

    3) Perhaps most importantly: the thing you that are concerned with (the CAC stuff) really has nothing to do with Ayers’ radical past. Indeed, if Obama had been involved with someone with a less colorful past that Ayers on the CAC project, would it even be worth mentioning?

    To conclude: it seems like this whole conversation boils down to a) you don’t like Obama, and b) you don’t like Ayers, so c) therefore this is a big deal (oh, and the media didn’t cover it the way you wanted them to). While I fully accept that individual media outlets, and even many of them at once, may do a poor job on a specific story, I honestly don’t see how this Ayers thing is of any great consequence or that it demonstrates anything in particular about the media/

    Indeed, my position would be that part of the reason it didn’t receive as much attention as you think it deserves is that most people disagree with you about the story’s significance.

  39. mantis says:

    I honestly don’t see how this Ayers thing is of any great consequence or that it demonstrates anything in particular about the media

    That’s because you’ve been brainwashed from living the past three years under the Ayers-dominated administration.

  40. An Interested Party says:

    Would that be the same Liddy who 1) worked for the government, B) never targeted innocents, and III) served his sentence and paid his debts?

    Ahh, so if only Ayers had worked for scum like Nixon, targeted Washington think tanks and journalists, and, during the Clinton years, instructed people on how to shoot federal law enforcement agents, he would be just fine to you…