Rick Perry’s Kingmaker, and David Brooks Wakes Up

I went missing last week to an undisclosed location—okay, Wyoming, one of our country’s most beautiful states with two of its most spectacular national parks. Reentry into work is always hard, and this time it’s no exception, coming back to debt ceiling showdowns and other evidence of the collapse of reason.

Last night, before bed, I read the New York Times on my iPad, and I must have caught David Brooks’ column just as it went up. And I thought, ah, he has evolved, he realizes the GOP has gone off the rails. And I anticipated that he would (in Beltway journalist parlance) “win the morning” by saying what everyone else is thinking but is too afraid to say lest they get called a dick by Mark Halperin on TV.

See what I missed while I was hiking in the Grand Tetons! While I was watching geysers erupt in Yellowstone! Is it any wonder that I took a deep breath as I opened my laptop for the first time in 10 days this morning and thought, will everything seem both tiny and blown out of proportion at the same time?

Indeed. But back to work it is for me, with all the tiny and giant inanities that are our political culture. And look who’s rising (Texas Governor Rick Perry, with several profiles presaging his presidential run, but not his Christian right bona fides) and who’s falling (Godfather Pizza exec and Americans for Prosperity favorite Herman Cain, with campaign staff defections coming “after weeks of swirling rumors between Cain’s staff and volunteers in the Hawkeye State accusing each other of affairs, homosexuality and professional misconduct.”)

While Cain’s staff walkouts will surely make reporters hyperventilate for prurient, back-stabbing gossip (because even if there were no affairs or homosexuality, the idea that campaign staffers were accusing each other—or him? not clear—of such is somehow irresistible) it’s Perry’s machinations that are in fact more interesting.

Perry doesn’t have boots on the ground in Iowa yet—he hasn’t even announced an exploratory committee. And Iowa native and religious right (that’s right, not Tea Party) charmer Michele Bachmann is already drawing huge crowds.

As I wrote back in May, Bachmann may be the Huckabee of 2012, wowing Iowa caucus-goers, but fizzling in subsequent states. Enter Perry, another Christocrat favorite whose willingness to substitute prayer for policy rivals Bachmann’s. (Applying Brooksian logic, at what point does one deem the GOP not a “normal” party?)

In Time today, Amy Sullivan highlights Perry’s ties to the religious right, and zeroes in on David Lane, organizer of Renewal and Restoration Projects, and their associated Pastors’ Policy Briefings. When I wrote about Lane’s activities back in 2007 and 2008, it was commonly thought (as Sullivan notes) that Lane and his associates played a key role in achieving at least the Iowa victory for Huckabee, to the chagrin of other Republicans. (Lane scoffs at the notion that his mingling of Christianity and politics is in any way inappropriate.) Looking ahead, Texas political columnist Bud Kennedy reported in May that Lane associate Laurence White may be organizing a “Draft Perry” movement by pastors. And they are undoubtedly looking for their anointed one to go the distance this time.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email