Texas Governor Rick Perry appears to want to streamline government . . . if he can just remember which major agencies will be eliminated. I include this tape not to mock Perry — I have previously stated my disregard for politicians in both parties. Rather, in my classes, I have a policy that students cannot read from their notes or their computers in presenting a case. The reason is that I often see lawyers in court who read from notes out of habit. It is a habit formed in law school. What I have found is that students who are barred from using notes tend to develop excellent skills of presentation and quickly become comfortable with speaking without a crutch. I am not saying that this is Perry’s problem who simply appears to have the type of mental block that we all experience from time to time. However, for lawyers and law students, it is a familiar problem in oral presentations. It is a painful 53 second to watch, but it is not an uncommon problem for public speakers and lawyers alike.
Perry is shown struggling with the short list of targeted agencies in the video above:
“Commerce, Education and the — what’s the third one there? Let’s see . . The third agency of government I would — I would do away with, Education, the … Commerce and let’s see. I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”
I am sympathetic to Perry because we all know how a gap can get locked in with the pressure of a moment. While it makes him look like a three item list is one too long, it is clearly just a common mental lapse at the world’s least opportune moment. Half of your mind is on the answer and half is one the fact that everyone is looking at you struggle with the gap. Of course, it leaves federal employees wondering who is the third on the chopping block. To relieve the tension, the third agency is Energy. This is like being dumped by your high school boyfriend who cannot remember your name in the Dear
John What-ever-your-name-is letter.
Yet, in my view, it is far worse of a gaffe for Herman Cain to suggest that China is working on acquiring nuclear weapons.
It is rare to see a modern presidential candidate lose so much ground in debates on pure performance grounds as opposed to his policies. In the age of almost robotic debate performances, candidates usually stay close to prepared and memorized remarks. The fact is that the Republican debates have been quite useful for voters in exposing both the talents and policies of the candidates.
The thing that again worried me is the joking suggestion of Ron Paul that one of the agencies to be eliminated is the EPA — which has been said not in jest by some of the candidates and was a remark that again received applause from the audience.