From Sunday's Houston Chronicle, we learn that Perry's campaign was doomed from the start. No, not for the reasons you think. Sure, he swaggered onto the campaign scene just in time to steal Michele Bachmann's thunder at the Iowa State Fair... Sure, he was the poster child for suspicious pay-to-play political schemes... Sure, he was telling the world about the Texas Miracle even as the curtain was being pulled back on the shameful treatment of our poor and uninsured and inmates on death row. No, it's none of those things, or the thousand other things revealed in Perry's meteoric ascendancy and catastrophic debate debacle.
Jay Root of the Texas Tribune has finally cleared up the mystery in his e-book entitled "Oops: A Diary of the Campaign Trail."
Root, who has covered Perry for years makes clear there's no simple answer to explain what James Carville described as the worst presidential campaign in American history, but there's one explanation that comes close: sleeplessness.
In Root's view, Perry's back surgery in early 2011 was much more serious than his campaign people let on, and the candidate was in constant pain on the campaign trail. (Perry refused to take painkillers.) The pain exacerbated a lifelong sleep problem, which left him almost dead on his feet during the 24/7 demands of a presidential campaign.
"The chronic lack of adequate rest seemed to get worse and worse as the schedule of events multiplied and the travel wore down," Root writes.
Like the NFL player who schedules a knee operation in June, you have to wonder about the timing. Perry's July 2011 back surgery involved a controversial stem-cell treatment. Looking to make Texas the only state in the country where this procedure could be licensed, Perry put his own sleep-ravaged body on the line as a guinea pig.
You have to wonder about this long-term sleep deprivation, though. We do know that our governor has a weakness for red wine. Heck, the taxpayers have even covered the cost of a fine wine magazine subscription (not to mention gallons and gallons of the stuff). Faced with the choice between red wine and pain meds, you'd think his answer would be "both". But if Root's chronicle of the campaign is accurate, Perry refused to take the pain meds. I guess he was worried about looking goofy. Wouldn't want that to happen.
Interestingly, Perry did have the stamina to make it to important meetings with deep-pocket campaign donors in California as the wildfires ravaged much of the Lone Star State last year. His aides even joked - and I am not kidding - that the fundraising was going "like wildfire".
When he returned, he was expected to speak to the firefighters and local officials in especially hard-hit Bastrop, a mere 30 miles from Austin. He was a no-show.
His staff cited "logistical" reasons for being unable to attend. I guess the boss finally dozed off, and nobody wanted to wake him. When sleep's that elusive, you gotta grab those zzzzs when you can. If there's a crisis looming outside your door, oh, well. Even President Obama managed to visit, when our own governor couldn't or wouldn't.
Sleep must have been a welcome respite for Perry, given the rolling catastrophe of the campaign:
Even if Perry had slept like a baby for eight hours a night, the multitudinous gaffes, the infighting and feuding at the top and the candidate's woeful ill-preparedness would have been enough to doom the campaign. The "oops" moment from Rochester, Mich., perhaps the most memorable mistake in campaign history, was merely the coup de grace.All the while, Anita Perry - foreshadowing the plaintive wails of Ann Romney - whined that the media, the other candidates, and the process were brutalizing poor Rick. Yeah, Anita, it's never little Ricky's fault. He's just a nice fella in a cruel world.
There's another curious parallel to Romneyworld: "the infighting and feuding at the top and the candidate's woeful ill-preparedness". Mitt, unlike Rick, can handle that. Just fire those involved. Still, they both reverted to the "hiding behind the wife's skirts" defense. Send the little woman out to chastise the media, the voters, the opponents, and the cruel vagaries of the world. "Campaigning is hard. Leave our poor husbands alone!!"
One wonders how Rick could possibly have considered himself medically fit for the presidency, if his sleep disorders really have been "lifelong". Then again, maybe being awake all night would put him in better shape to answer those 3:00 a.m. phone calls. Curiously, he did note during one of the debates that the possibility that Texas might execute an innocent person didn't keep him up at night.
Perry had plenty of reasons to spend his nights worrying... and that was before he ran for the presidency. With the added scrutiny and the apparent ineptitude of the internal workings of his campaign, it's amazing that he slept at all. Evidently, the glimpses we saw from the outside don't begin to explain the horrors of the Perry campaign:
In present-tense diary fashion, Root chronicles the ill-fated presidential quest from the heady early days with Perry atop the polls and raising more money than Mitt Romney to the sad, chaotic end. "Dude, no matter how bad you've heard it was, it was 10 times worse," a senior campaign aide told Root toward the end.Ten times worse? Wow. I have to wonder: has Root sold the rights to this tell-all e-book? It sounds like an awesome miniseries. I'll bet you $10,000 someone's already working on it.