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Didya miss me?  Don’t answer,

1.  I think Perry is undervalued at this point.  The salience of Texas’ job creation should come back over the next several months.  Perry could hardly become more incompetent at attacking Romney.  If he has the chops, he’ll be back.

2.  But I love it that Romney is rubbing Perry’s face in all that old Perry talk about Social Security being unconstitutional/maybe let Social Security be run by the states stuff.  It isn’t that I hate those ideas (though I disagree with them.)  It is that I hate how some vain, phony-tough politicians deploy them.  When these politicians are in front of very conservative audiences (or readerships), they do their anti-Social Security, anti-federal entitlement state strutting.  When they get in front of a broader audience and are pressed to defend those statements, these politicians go “Humina, humina, humina.  I was just offering ideas for a conversation to a national dialogue to an intellectual exercise of let’s change the subject.”  I’m looking at you Rick Perry and Sharron Angle.  It is so very healthy that Perry is taking these hits.  The costs of flirting with those positions should be so high and so visible that only politicians that are willing to stand up for their principles when pressed will go in that direction.  Principled small government Madisonian (on the general welfare clause) constitutionalists might have something useful to contribute to the conversation and, in any case, deserve respect for their political courage.  Phony tough, phony radical, poseurs are worse than worthless.

3.  With the rise of Cain, Perry is facing a genuine two-front war.  He has Cain gaining with conservative authenticity-first voters and Romney has been making the stronger case to competence/electability-first voters.  Romney has to love that there are two major right-of-Romney candidates.  If the current split remains unchanged (and the race has been very, very, volatile), the split on the right might actually allow Romney to win Iowa and roll to the nomination with fairly few bumps.  Romney’s political interests line up with not attacking Cain (yet) and Cain seems to like Romney more than Perry.  Perry has to either take them both down or hope that Cain collapses for some reason other than attacks from Perry.  But hope is not a plan.

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