Let's take a few walks down memory lane, shall we?
Remember when Governor Perry and Senator Paul couldn't stand each other....?:
There are many things I like about Texas Governor Rick Perry, including his stance on the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. But apparently his new glasses haven’t altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly.
There are obviously many important events going on in the world right now, but with sixty thousand foreign children streaming across the Texas border, I am surprised Governor Perry has apparently still found time to mischaracterize and attack my foreign policy.
Governor Perry writes a fictionalized account of my foreign policy so mischaracterizing my views that I wonder if he’s even really read any of my policy papers.
....and when neither could stand Donald Trump?
Let no one be mistaken – Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.
It cannot be pacified or ignored, for it will destroy a set of principles that has lifted more people out of poverty than any force in the history of the civilized world – the cause of conservatism.
I feel so strongly about this because I believe conservatism is the only way forward for this country.
I will not go quiet when this cancer on conservatism threatens to metastasize into a movement of mean-spirited politics that will send the Republican Party to the same place it sent the Whig Party in 1854: the graveyard.
Appearing on Comedy Central’s Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore Monday, Paul invoked his experience as an optical surgeon to draw an analogy between voters’ love affair with the bombastic business mogul and a speck of dust in one’s eye.
“Have you ever had a speck of dirt fly into your eye? Annoying, irritating, might even make you cry,” Paul said. “But if the dirt doesn’t go away, it’ll keep scratching away at your cornea until it eventually blinds you with all its filth, and then it makes fun of you on CNN.”
“Donald Trump is a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag,” Paul continued. “A speck of dirt is way more qualified to be president.”
Fast forward almost a year, and now Governor Perry and Senator Paul are the oddest of Odd Couples.
Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, asked on Thursday if he would endorse Donald Trump now that he’s the party’s presumptive nominee, answered that he has always said he would back the winner of the Republican primary.
“You know, I’ve always said I’ll endorse the nominee,” Paul said in an interview with interviewed by radio host Leland Conway. “I said that even when I ran [for Senate] in 2010.”
Except that six years ago, you never in your worst nightmares imagined that the nominee could ever have been somebody as manifestly anti-libertarian as Donald Trump.
As I've been saying, I get the impossible tightrope that Senate Republican incumbents up for reelection this fall will be walking, so in that sense Rand Paul's craven cuckolding to the New York liberal conman is not particularly remarkable. What is remarkable is that such a hardcore libertarian and worthy heir to his father's kooky legacy would bow the knee before a man who is a personification of just about everything he supposedly opposes - corruption, big government statism (though not foreign policy isolationism, which is where the two overlap). Maybe there's a "Trojan horse" kinship at work, but given that those respective Trojan horses came from opposite ideological and temperamental directions, it's still spit-take-inducing.
But Perry? He's out of elective office, if not politics altogether. He has no institutional impetus to submit to such a perfidious humiliation.
Rick Perry would be open to being the vice presidential candidate on a ticket with Donald Trump, CNN reported Thursday.
“I will be open to any way I can help. I’m not going to say no,” the former governor of Texas and two-time presidential candidate told Dana Bash, who recounted a phone conversation she had with Perry earlier that day on Erin Burnett Outfront.
“Rick Perry just told me on a phone call from his home State in Texas that he does support Donald Trump and that he’s going to do everything he can to help Donald Trump get elected,” Bash reported.
“He said that he believes in the process and the process meaning the voters inside the Republican electorate clearly said Trump should be the guy and he is going to follow that process.”
Seriously, man? When you announced for president, you had Marcus Luttrell standing by your side. Trump is the guy who mocked war prisoner John McCain.
So did Perry mean what he said ten months ago about Trump being a cancer on conservatism or didn't he? Or had he not thought it through to the extent of contemplating the possibility that Trump might actually win the nomination and the impact of that on his still quite evident political ambitions? Most of it is likely the latter, but you'd like to think that the convictions with which Perry accurately pronounced The Donald a malignant political tumor would have had the stamina to survive Trumpageddon. In the words of Red Skull, "Evidently not".
There is one other possibility, though.
Recall that the closest Republican analog to Donald Trump in recent history is Richard Nixon - a perceived "tough guy" (Nixon in the context of his anti-communist street cred for having busted Alger Hiss) who was, in reality, on the left on domestic issues (EPA, OSHA, etc. all came into existence through his signature, taking the U.S. off the gold standard, wage & price controls) and even ultimately used his past anti-communist props to sell out those principles by "opening" to Red China and pursuing "detente" with the Soviet Union. Nixon was similarly thin-skinned and vindictive, with his enemies lists and attempting to use the IRS to go after them, and similarly naive in the sense that he thought, as a Republican, that he could abuse power with impunity the same way past Democrat POTUSs did. In Watergate he found out the hard way that that was not the case.
I've already predicted that if Donald Trump ever made it to the White House, he would become either (1) the second president to resign from office (because he doesn't want the actual JOB of the presidency because he would quickly get bored with it once he found out that it wasn't the royal throne he thinks it is now; he just wants to prove that he can win it) or (2) the first POTUS to be impeached and removed from office (He'd have any number of scandals from which for the Dems to choose). If he didn't resign first, as Nixon did. Which, in that situation, I don't think Trump would, given his penchant for mindless, reflexive "counter-punching". Nixon resigned once the late Barry Goldwater told him that there weren't the votes in the Senate to save him, much the same way that he conceded the 1960 election to JFK despite knowing that the Daley machine in Chicago had stolen Illinois and put Kennedy over the top: He chose not to put an already bitterly divided country through the spectacle of a Senate trial that would combust whatever was left of it. Nixon, ultimately, put America ahead of himself. Does anybody seriously believe that Trump would do that?
Which brings us to the outsized significance of who Trump's running mate ends up being, because that person would be very likely to wind up the forty-sixth POTUS were Hairboy to go all the way this fall. Could that be what Rick Perry is thinking with his endorsement? Make himself a conservative Trojan horse within TrumpWorld, assume the role of loyal lieutenant and shotgun-rider, ready to step in after Trump quits or is toppled? That is the only viable option true conservatives have left at this point (third-party protest candidacies don't qualify). And we could do a lot worse than the three-term Texas governor waiting in the wings.
Assuming, of course, that he still secretly has his principles intact and hasn't "gone native," as deep-cover operatives sometimes do.
It's almost a pity that we're never going to find out which it is.