I cannot watch Texas Governor and Republican presidential contender Rick Perry debate anymore. His temporary memory losses and gaffes might have been funny in the beginning, but now, watching him is not just painful; it’s uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Last night during the debate, Perry said that if elected president, he would cut three federal agencies. He named two, then stumbled and stammered as he tried to remember the third. When the other republican candidates chimed in to save him, everyone, including Perry, laughed to bring levity to the awkwardness of the moment. When the moderator asked Perry to reiterate the three agencies he’d cut, he named two, only to admit–yet again–that he could not remember the third. No one was laughing this time.
I can only imagine that Perry wanted to crawl and hide beneath the podium in front of him. I wanted to hide for him.
Before you can confidently state your case in any situation, you must first be clear. Clarity is more important to excellent expression than the words you choose, your ability to turn a phrase, your wit, or your charm. If you’re not clear—first, in what you want to say and second, in how you say it—it doesn’t matter how photogenic, attractive, articulate, or poised you are. You’ll come off sounding, and looking, like an idiot. End of story.
It’s time to pull the plug on television debates for Rick Perry. Clearly, live debates are not his strength. Perry’s crisis communications team and PR people either need to coach him to make sure he’s clear on where he stands on the issues and what he wants to say before he takes the stage, or persuade him to step down, to remove himself from the race and save us all the embarrassment of watching this man continue to make a fool of himself.
Fumbling and stumbling during one debate is understandable; it might even be funny and can be chalked up to nerves. But failing to remember what you want to say or being unable to clearly express yourself every single time you’re asked to state your case is inexcusable. For the President of the United States, all the world is a stage. Perry’s camp needs to do the right thing and convince him to clear the way for someone who at least exhibits the ability to command it.